It's thyme to keep the gut healthy

Anne Oberdorf

3 minutes | 26. February 2019
Degree of technical knowledge

It’s thyme for a change (part 3)

Already in part 1 and part 2 of our blog you could improve your phytogenic knowledge about thyme and its ingredients. Now you want to know what beneficial effects the main components of thyme have on the body of humans and animals? Well then, let’s start…

Mode of action: Helpful effects of Thymol

Since the Sixties, thymol-rich essential oils have been evaluated for their positive effects on health and their benefits in medical applications. Actually, it is the activity of thymol, embanking degradation by fungi and bacteria through its antifungal and antibacterial effects. Therefore, the pure thymol is used in a wide range of products, for example toothpaste, gargle solutions, and shaving creams. But the herb has so much more to offer: especially its antioxidant effects can help to keep the intestine healthy and to strengthen the animal’s resilience against upcoming challenges.

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

Effects on intestinal health

Gut health is the key to successful livestock production, where the aim of good management is to decline any stressful condition for the animals as effective as possible. Stress is a constant challenge in animal production, whether as heat stress, social stress by relocation, vaccination, or high levels of aerial ammonia. In the long run, stress predisposes for inflammatory processes. Inflammation leads to an increase of free-radical production in the organism- If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. However, a balance between free radicals and anti-oxidants is necessary for proper physiological function.

Within the help of „outside“by in-feed antioxidants, the body can much easier resist the massive onslaught and damaging effects on cells and the body’s own processes of this free radicals. Antioxidants can decrease the oxidative damage directly via reacting with free radicals or indirectly by enhancing the activity or expression of intracellular antioxidant enzymes.  The damaging effect on cell structure is reduced.

The highly active essential oils of thyme are an excellent way to improve intestinal health in order to optimize animal health and performance. The anti-oxidant activity of thymol and carvacrol arises due to the presence of phenolic OH-groups. Those act as hydrogen donors to peroxy radicals produced during inflammation or lipid oxidation – by this way break the hydroxy peroxide formation. The exact mechanism by which essential oils could influence the various anti-oxidant parameters is not clear up today. It is supposed that the anti-oxidant properties of thyme oil are being utilized by the cells, thus sparing the intracellular anti-oxidant systems.

© Delacon

Build a barrier against oxidative stress

Another approach which may explain the anti-oxidative mechanism of thyme ingredients is that Labiatae plant oils could influence the expression of genes with an antioxidant response element –  regulated by Nrf2 producing anti-oxidant enzymes. The up-regulation of these genes in the intestinal tissue seems to build a barrier against oxidative stress in the organism.

Moreover, in broiler chicken tissues, it was shown that 0.05% T. vulgaris essential oils are able to stimulate the production of IgA antibodies in duodenal mucosa as well as the activity of phagocytes against pathogenic bacteria in blood. The intestinal barrier was strengthened, and the anti-oxidant capacity was increased. These results demonstrate that the administration of this concentration of essential oil supports the intestinal health – and thus general welfare –  of broilers. 

References upon request

You see, thyme has so much to offer – not only for you.

Any open questions? Feel free to contact us: phytogenius@delacon.com