The solution to antimicrobial protection stands tall in our nature

Can an antimicrobial solution be such, that it distinguishes between good and bad microbes?

The answer for man-made solutions so far is a clear “no”. But how about nature? If nature were

not able to do it, we all would have been in big trouble a long time ago. One would think it to be obvious that nature has over the hundreds of millions of years of evolution figured it out and yet, it seems to keep surprising mankind.

Microbes are core to our survival

Microbes are a prerequisite for life and the power of nature's prosperity. Bacteria, mold, yeasts

and viruses allow the natural cycle to break down dead organisms into plant nutrients. Microbes make up 95% of the marine biomass, where plankton and algae feed life in the sea. Microbial living conditions range from modest to demanding. What is essential, however, is their mutual balance and the normal bacterial set formed by the majority of good bacteria. When this balance is upset, pathogens are created. These pathogenic microbes are thus demanding and need both space and more favorable conditions to take over in order to take the place of beneficial microbes.

Nature is able to stop mutation where scientists were not

The most extensive species of microbes, over 1.000 species, live in our gut. In the treatment of

microbial diseases, antibiotics also kill good bacteria in our intestines, render the intestinal flora poor and allow the growth of bacterial and fungal strains of highly resistant antibiotics. Excessive and misuse of antibiotics have accelerated antimicrobial resistance. This is already a very big and growing global issue, and the same trend can be seen for antiviral drugs. The World Health Organization, WHO, calls for urgent action and predicts that by 2050, antimicrobial resistance will cause 10 million deaths compared to the current 700,000. It is also predicted, that by 2030, antimicrobial resistance could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty. The issue with antibiotics, in addition to throwing our intestinal flora out of balance, is that they do not fully stop the bacteria. They only slow it down, still allowing it to mutate over and over again, eventually potentially becoming a super bug.

“NordShield® technology forms a durable protective barrier on the treated surface, which stops the bacteria, virus and fungus. As a physical armor, it is impenetrable. Our unique barrier eliminates the possibility of mutation and thus superbugs being ever born on surfaces.”

Trees as true masters of protection

Conifers appeared on our planet 200 million years ago and deciduous trees 100 million years

ago. Our ancestors lived in the branches of trees before moving to the earth's surface. Over

millions of years, trees have had to develop a versatile defense mechanism against diseases and other invaders. Trees are unable to change their habitat and their generational change takes a long time, so the need for physical and chemical defense mechanisms is very important to them. In addition, as a result of evolution, the genome of one tree species varies greatly and helps it adapt to changing conditions. Trees live in their small ecosystems in harmony with their own neighborhood, where mutual communication is highly developed and mutually supportive in different life situations, as Peter Wohlleben highlights in his book “The secret lives of trees. What they feel, how they communicate – the discovery of a secret world.“

Russian biochemist Boris Tokin noticed that certain trees and plants release very active

preservatives, which he began to call phytoncides in 1929. In his research in the 1950s, he found the air in pine forests to be antimicrobial under the influence of phytoncides that evaporate from them through needles. Pine needles also proved to be antimicrobial.

Insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses lurk in unbalanced trees. One shovelful of earth has millions of kilometers of fungal mycelium, bacteria and organisms. Trees improve the land and keep it together. Even when dying, trees give life to thousands of species. At the same time, the carbon dioxide bound by the wood is released and binds back to the ecosystem as fungi and bacteria break down the wood. The roots have thousands of years of experience in their own living environment, from which they pass on the information they have learned. A healthy tree remains intact and is able to defend itself when needed and communicate with its supporting environment to separate the good and bad, and alert about the latter.

The bark of trees acts as a physical armor, like a skin that prevents pathogens from entering the “bloodstream”. When the skin is damaged, the trees can secrete resin on their surface and form a hydrophobic water-repellent protective barrier against mold, for example. In this way, they can also protect themselves against harmful organisms and make them immobile.

Tree extractants have been found to lower stress hormone levels, blood pressure, sugar levels, improve immunity and our ability to concentrate. The smell of wood activates our senses. In the forest, you can feel being part of the great cycle of life. Japanese doctors are already writing forest baths, or shinrin-yoks, as a prescription for their patients.

Our collective health is linked to the well-being of nature. Biodiversity embodies the state of

nature, its resilience and adaptation to changing conditions such as climate change and disease. With activities that maintain the diversity of nature, we ourselves do well.

“With NordShield®, the solution lies in utilizing these skills of nature, harnessing them for the protection of life and designing them in a way that through biodegradability, nothing but goodness is left behind.”

Children prosper under contact with the microbes of greenery. In a recently published article, Biodiversity intervention enhances immune regulation and health-associated commensal microbiota among Daycare children (Science Advances), it was found that forest land and forest plants improve the immune system of kindergarten-age children in just a month. The study compared different play environments with each other: an urban playground, a play environment with parts of a green yard, and regular daily nature trips to the forest. The

study was conducted in Finland and the results were already supportive of ten previous studies. Repeated organic contact to greenery diversified the microbiota of children’s skin and intestines. The changes were also reflected in blood counts.

Western urbanized life, high standards of hygiene (often through harmful products, the standard so far having been heavy metals such as silver), processed nutrition, antibiotics, and inadequate contact with nature impoverish the microbiota of our bodies. This increases the risk of immune system disorders such as atopy, allergies, diabetes and celiac disease, and leads to an imbalance of bacteria that suppress intestinal inflammation and intestinal inflammation

(Dysbiosis). Immune diseases and disorders are on the rise in our society. Human resistance begins to build from childhood and that is why both contact with nature and the diversity of our body's microbial population are important to us throughout life.

Sustainability as the only acceptable path

The actual building blocks of wood are cellulose, hemicellulose and the fiber binder lignin. In

addition to these main components, wood contains bioactive extractable organic compounds,

i.e. extractants such as terpenes, terpenoids, sterols, fats, waxes and phenolic compounds.

These extractants are the protective substances that protect the trees.

"At NordShield®, we make sure that we never harm a tree. This unique technology is built on side-streams of the forest industry, thus ensuring that every tree is being utilized to its fullest potential.”

Man is a part of nature. The extractives developed over millions of years for the defense of trees are the basis of NordShield® technology. NordShield® technology gives us and future

generations the opportunity for sustainable development – enabling the best tomorrow.

Kari Holopainen

Inventor of NordShield® technology