The essential oils of plants have been used for thousands of years in human medicine, although their use in animal nutrition is more recent. Essential oils are a mixture of volatile compounds such as aromatic hydrocarbons (terpenic compounds), alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, ethers and phenols, which possess unique properties.
Among the properties and potential synergies of essential oils we emphasize from the nutritional point of view as well as digestibility stimulators, to favor the balance and control of microbial flora, as stimulators of immunity and for their antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Digestibility stimulators, because they increase the regulation of the gastrointestinal metabolism and prevent the emergence of disbiosis, to accelerate the removal of the epithelium, enhancing the absorptive capacity of nutrients and preventing the binding of microorganisms to the intestinal surface. They also stimulate the activity of digestive enzymes in the intestinal mucosa and pancreas. They improve the functional status of the intestinal microvilli that contribute to a better absorption of nutrients.
The balance of microbial flora, is essential for functions such as production of vitamins and short chain fatty acids, degradation of nutrients not digested, or protection against pathogenic microorganisms, which can be developed properly. The antibacterial properties of some oils against Gram negative and Gram positive, contribute to the proper balance of intestinal flora.
Immunity stimulators, because they improve the effectiveness of different cells involved in the immune response; this effect is very helpful in stressful enteric situations, as in the case of infection with coccidia.
Antioxidant properties, Flavonoids (secondary plant metabolites), have antioxidant activity and free radicals scavenge and increase the capacity of the endogenous defense systems against oxidation, thus modulating the cellular redox state. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants that can prevent free radical formation through the enzymes involved in their production and xanthine oxidase, to sequester transition metals that promote the formation of these radicals and regenerate antioxidants such as α-tocopherol.
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