The intestinal flora is an integral part of the animal organism and is involved in a number of vital processes, so its optimal condition must be maintained. When the gut microorganisms are in a proper balance, they ensure
The microflora acts as a barrier, stopping the pathogens. It also plays a key role in the proper absorption of nutrients. The microflora in the digestive tract of animals can be considered in three main categories: main, additional and residual.
The microbiota is balanced or normal (also called eubiosis) when the main microflora (bacteria producing lactic acid and fatty acids) is above 90%, the additional one (Escherichia coli and Enterococci) is below 1% and the residual one (Clostridia, Staphylococci, fungi and Proteus species) is less than 10%.
The microbiota is in imbalance (also called dysbiosis) if the main microflora is below 90%, the additional microflora is above 1% and the residual microflora is more than 10%.
Eubiosis leads to better digestion, protection against intestinal infections, better growth, better feed utilization and higher overall animal productivity. Animals whose microbiota is in the state of eubiosis are more resistant to all stress factors.
Dysbiosis leads to worsened digestion, a higher risk of gastrointestinal disorders, low growth, poorer feed utilization and lower overall animal productivity. Dysbiosis can result from the use of antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents or weakened immunity.
When the gastrointestinal health is impaired, digestion, absorption and utilization of food deteriorate, disease susceptibility increases and all of this leads to negative economic outcomes. Useful microorganisms form a protective barrier on the intestinal mucosa that prevents the growth of enteropathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium spp., E. coli and others.
The intestinal microflora is particularly labile in young animals. Even insignificant burdens, such as feed change, premises change, unfavorable microclimate, etc. leads to intestinal imbalance, resulting in a higher proportion of harmful bacteria like E. coli, Enterococci and others. The treatment of dysbiosis is aimed at restoring the normal composition of the microflora.
Probiotics, prebiotics and phytobiotics are important for maintaining the intestinal flora in a state of eubiosis. In this review we will focus on phytobiotics, which are one of the subjects of activity of Vemo 99 Ltd.
Phytobiotics are herbal plants and spices, their extracts and volatile fatty acids. They have the ability to modulate the immune response as well as the intestinal microflora through their antimicrobial action against pathogenic bacteria. Herbal plants and their extracts with proven healing properties, are often times more effective than synthetic preparations, are better absorbed, harmless to the living organism and do not pollute the environment.
Vemo 99 Ltd. has an inhouse laboratory equipped with all required high-tech modern equipment and perfectly-trained specialists for determining the content of biologically active substances in herbal extracts. The company also has production base for the industrial manufacturing of dry herbal extracts. Various methods are used to characterize the herbs and the extracts obtained obtained from them - spectrophotometric, chromatographic (HPLC), titration, etc. Characterization of the content of biologically active substances such as flavonoids, coumarins, tannins and others has been made for a large number of valuable Bulgarian herbal plants.
Extracts from the following herbal plants were proven to have antimicrobial action against harmful microbes and are contributing to the regulation and stabilization of the microbiota composition: Fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum), Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Chicory (Cichorium intybus), St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua).
Fenugreek seeds have a strong antibacterial action, positive effect on the gastrointestinal tract, increase appetite, improve digestion, enhance immunity. Also, they are an excellent anticide, neutralizing the hydrochloric acid in the gastric juice.
The lemon balm contains eugenol, which has strong antibacterial properties, especially against Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococci, improves the intestinal peristalsis and the appetite.
Thyme contains thymol, a specific antimicrobial agent that is effective in combating pathogens such as viruses, fungi, parasites and bacteria. The essential oil from Thyme contains carvacrol and thymol and is more bactericidal than phenol.
The Smoke tree has a strong antimicrobial action as well.
Tansy is characterized by a strong anthelmintic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and bacteriostatic action.
Chicory helps to balance the intestinal microflora in dysbiosis. Its roots contain up to 40-60% inulin, a natural prebiotic that nourishes the beneficial bacteria that make up the gut microbiota. The polyphenols in Chicory stimulate the formation of immune defense cells and fight free radicals.
St. John's wort has an antimicrobial effect, reducing the population of E. coli and increasing the population of Lactobacillus.
Sweet wormwood has proven appetite-stimulating and anti-parasitic actions. It decreases the number of Enterobacteria, Staphylococci and E. coli and increases the number of bacteria producing lactic acid.
The antibacterial activity of herbal extracts from these plants was determined by a modified diffusion method in agar medium, and Bacilluslicheniformis was used as the test microorganism. The highest antibacterial activity was found in Smoke tree and Chicory extracts, while Thyme, Lemon balm, Sweet wormwood, and Fenugreek extracts have a bit lower activity.
The dry extracts of some of these plants, alone or in combination, are part of the products of the VemoHerb series - feed additives for pigs, poultry, rabbits, young ruminants and more.
Dry herbal extracts of Fenugreek seeds, Sweet wormwood, Thyme and Lemon balm, used alone and added to the compound broiler feed from hatching until the age of 42 days were tested. It was observed that the live weight of the chicks at the end of the experimental period was higher with 5.8% in the Fenugreek group and 5.6% in the Sweet wormwood group, when compared to the negative control group. Microbiological tests were carried out on 5 chickens per group for the contents of the ceca in terms of the total number of microorganisms; E. coli; lactic acid producing bacteria; Enterococci; Campylobacter and Enterobacteriaceae. The highest number of lactic acid producing bacteria was found in the Sweet wormwood group, which achieved very good productivity. The E. coli number was lowest in the group with the addition of dry Thyme extract.
Four variants of combinations between Fenugreek, Sweet wormwood, Thyme and Lemon balm have been developed and tested. The highest live weight was achieved in the combinations with the highest proportion of Fenugreek and Sweet wormwood extracts - 6.1% higher than the negative control group.
An industrial study of the combination of 50% Fenugreek and 50% Sweet wormwood was also carried out. The live weight of the chicks in the experimental group was 3.3% higher than the control group.
The addition of extracts from Fenugreek, Sweet wormwood, Thyme and Lemon balm have been proven effective in improving animal health and productivity, in terms of growth, feed utilization and protection protection of the gut against pathogens colonization.
The efficacy of the addition of VemoHerb series (Vemo 99 Ltd.) on animal health and productivity has been proven in improving growth, feed utilization, the good functioning of the immune system and the protection of the gut microbiota from pathogenic bacteria.
Prof. Sabka Surdzhiiska