What are biofilms? Biofilms are naturally-occurring bacterial colonies in both humans and the environment. They are basically slimy, glue-like, protective sheaths that bacterial organisms form around themselves.
There’s good and bad biofilm. By being proactive with your diet, you can make great strides in ensuring gut and immune health by empowering your natural defenses against the bad kind. Pesticides, processed, empty caloric foods along with eating out of season and being disconnected with nature’s cycles may be behind unwanted bacterial biofilm build-up in the intestines.4,6
In addition to eating whole organic foods as much as possible, perhaps the simplest way to balance biofilm is to eat in season. Print my Spring and Summer Grocery Lists and start eating the way Mother Nature intended. Or sign up for my free monthly eating guide, The 3-Season Diet Challenge.
In addition to eating seasonally, there is one herb I specifically recommend for biofilm. For thousands of years, Ayurveda has used this spring- and summer-harvested plant to create the perfect intestinal environment for healthy digestion, elimination, and immunity.1,2 This herb was traditionally dubbed the village pharmacy, acclaimed for its ability to support numerous organs and organ systems.1
In this article, I share science now revealing the mechanism behind the many benefits of this herb.
Neem: The Biofilm Blaster
Neem (Azadirachta indica), literally means the free tree of India. It is a broad leaf tree that is mostly evergreen, except in severe drought conditions. Neem’s use has been recorded back some 4,500 years in the extremely advanced Indus valley civilization.1
While the leaves, bark, branches, flowers, fruits, and seeds of this tree are all used, the leaves and seeds are considered the most powerful.1,2 Neem leaves are loaded with a complex variety of constituents, including nimbin, nimbidin, nimbolide, and limonoids, as well as a host of flavonoids, such as quercetin and ß-sitosterol.2
Neem benefits are widespread throughout the body.
Benefits of Neem1-3
- Supports immunity
- Promotes blood sugar levels already within a normal range
- Maintains healthy bile flow
- Promotes natural liver-protecting mechanisms
- Supports integrity of external skin and skin that lines arteries, intestines, lungs, and more
- Contains antioxidant-forming constituents
- Supports healthy stomach acid production
- Supports normal kidney function
- Promotes healthy complexion
- Maintains beneficial oral bacteria
- Boosts natural glutathione production necessary to clear unwanted biofilms out of small intestine1-6
How Does Neem Support So Many Systems?
To play such a global role in human health for so long, neem must work on a very deep level. Ayurveda emphasizes that the most powerful effects are usually the most subtle. We also see this in modern science.
We now know that gut bacteria, which Ayurveda refers to as krimi, play a role in all realms of human health. Neem has always been considered to create an environment detrimental to bad bacterial residents of the microbiome while supporting populations of good bacteria.
The newest science is beginning to understand the mechanism of how this works. It turns out neem is antagonistic to biofilms that create safe havens for bacteria to flourish, take root on the intestinal wall, and negatively impact gut microbiology.4-6
Inhibiting unwanted biofilm accumulation allows natural gut immunity—driven by beneficial bacteria—to maintain a healthy balance of good and bad intestinal bacteria.4-6
Neem is well-documented to be unsupportive to the proliferation of undesirable bacteria.1-3 To accomplish this, it was traditional to harvest and eat leaves of the neem tree to support overall health, well-being, and immunity. It is said that eating leaves just before spring (January and February) jump starts immunity and offers benefits for a full year.
Queen of Skin
One of neem’s greatest claims to fame is supporting a healthy complexion.
Generally, the leaves, fruit, and seeds are eaten all spring and summer to support appearance of healthy, radiant skin, earning neem the nickname Queen of the Skin. The little-known truth is that neem supports outer skin by supporting inner skin.
Skin that lines your gut wall is the most important skin. It is here that neem’s benefits are the most dramatic.
Incredibly, perhaps as a spring cleaning backup plan, neem leaves have the ability to perform many of the actions that bitter roots, greens, and berries accomplish each spring—scrubbing, cleansing, and fertilizing the intestinal wall.
By promoting a healthy intestinal environment each spring and summer, neem allows for proliferation of beneficial gut microbes. The more we bolster a healthy microbial environment in spring and summer, the better the gut can perform as your first defense.
One could say that optimal health is all about skin—inner and outer. Skin on both our inside and outside is home to trillions of microbes that support optimal health.
Neem may be the original prebiotic, as it seems to encourage the environment the gut requires to unleash the body’s most powerful immune response: gut immunity.
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Neem in Review
Neem is a scrub for intestinal villi, an antagonist to bacterial biofilm accumulation,4-6 and is naturally cleansing and detoxing for the blood, skin, and liver. 1-3
It supports proliferation of good intestinal bacteria without supporting growth of bad intestinal bacteria. Neem seems to acts so powerfully by addressing the subtle, microscopic environment of the microbiome.1-6
Consider neem a whole-body immune booster, spring-summer cleanser, and herbal support for your precious microbiome.