Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and cofactor for carboxylases; the nutrient affects several key systemic functions such as tissue growth, development, immunity and metabolism. Deficiencies in biotin have also been linked with mild immune impairment. The role that biotin can play in the GI tract is primarily based on its ability to establish microflora balance by preventing yeast, especially Candida albicans, from converting to its more invasive fungal form. In the presence of biotin, yeast is unable to change into the mycelium form.
Phytonutrients from oregano, such as rosmarinic acid and quercetin, have been shown to play a role in supporting antioxidant mechanisms and healthy microbial balance in the body. In addition, the high ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), on a scale developed by scientists at the National Institute of Aging) value of oregano, indicates its significant antioxidant-scavenging capacity to combat free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Oregano oil also contains two naturally occurring microbial balancing agents named carvacrol and thymol. Research suggests that these compounds relieve GI dysbiosis and promote a healthy GI microflora.
Pau D Arco
The inner portion of the Pau D Arco bark has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years to support intestinal microbial health. The herb has been shown to be effective in promoting healthy intestinal flora and is recommended by herbalists for a wide variety of GI challenges. Studies have shown that Pau d Arco may also balance musculoskeletal inflammation and in vitro studies have shown fractions from Pau D Arco support microbial balance.
Undecylenic acid has been used to support microbial and immune balance in a variety of different microbial challenges. Studies show undecyclenic acid to inhibit morphogenesis of Candida albicans; the compound also appears to interfere with fatty acid biosynthesis, inhibiting germ tube (hyphae) formation and disrupting the pH in yeast cells. Of the medium chain fatty acids, undecylenic acid has also been shown to provide more potent support for microbial balance and is approximately six times more potent than caprylic acid.
Sodium Caprylate is the stable sodium salt of caprylic acid, a fatty acid found in coconuts. In vitro studies show that sodium caprylate inhibits aerobic and anaerobic growth, provokes loss of cytoplasm organization and organelles, inhibits budding, triggers potassium loss, and is destructive to the cellular integrity of Candida albicans. Caprylic acid has been shown to contribute to microbial balance.
An alkaloid extracted from plant roots, berberine has been found to express strong microbe balancing activity in vitro, and was found to be the best of four agents studied in inhibition of Candida albicans adherence to HT-29 epithelial cells. Berberine was also found to inhibit SAP (secreted aspartyl proteinases) activity, a marker of yeast conversion to the aggressive fungal form. In one in vitro study, mice given 1 mg/kg body weight of berberine had a potent effect on microbial balance, and displayed synergistic effects with fungal balancing agents.
The essential oil of rosemary has been shown to exhibit broad-spectrum microbial balancing effects. The oil was analyzed in vitro for its microbial balancing and antioxidant activities and was found to have strong activity. Rosemary extract has also been shown to decrease oxidative stress in various tissues.
Cinnamon Bark Extract
In an in vitro study looking at different strains of microbes, including MRSA and Candida species, the essential oil of cinnamon showed consistent ability to maintain microbial balance. In vitro research has shown that cinnamon extract causes a change in cell morphology, destruction of organelles and cellular burst when microbes are exposed to the essential oils of cinnamon.