Maria Villagrasa & Fernando Diaz

Nettle as anti-inflammatory and diuretic, fenugreek as appetite stimulant, Saint Mary’s thistle to protect the liver… The beneficial effects of these plants have been known for hundreds of years and are used in medicine to treat and prevent disease. But could they have the same positive effects on health and production performance of dairy cows?

Phytochemicals, also known as phytobiotics or phytogenic compounds, are bioactive compounds, such as essential oils, tannins and flavonoids, found in plants. Its beneficial effects are attributed to their antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and in recent years they have been used as natural growth promoters in the ruminant, swine, and poultry industries.

It has been observed that the inclusion of phytochemicals in diets stabilizes the gut microbiota and reduces toxic metabolites in the gut, thus improving productivity. They also improve overall health by reducing oxidative stress and increasing antioxidant activity in various tissues. Furthermore, they have immunomodulatory effects.

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