Supplementing Broilers with Essential Oils to Support Immune Function
Teera Tiyasatkulkovit, Technical Services Manager
When you think of essential oils, what comes to mind? Probably not including them to support broiler chicks’ immune function. However, research by Hashemipour and team1 showed that adding a thymol and carvacrol essential oil blend in broiler starter feed increased the enzyme production from the intestines and pancreas. Birds that received the essential oil blend showed improved performance and improved immune response.
How the Essential Oils Work
When pathogens or other stressors are released into a bird’s gut, toll-like receptor (TLR) proteins located in the cell membrane detect the invaders and stimulate an innate immune response, which includes an inflammatory response. Upon activation, TLR proteins recruit some adapter proteins, which activate signaling pathways, such as the nuclear factor kappa β (NFkβ). The NFkβ involves multiple physical reactions and is extremely important in modulating immunity, inflammation, and cell death. When the NFkβ is activated, it induces the generation of molecules that enhance inflammation, compromising the tight junction that allows for nutrient absorption. When the tight junction is compromised it permits pathogens to pass into the bloodstream to damage internal organs.
The thymol and carvacrol essential oil blend is shown to reduce TLR expression2 by obstructing it and helping in the NFkβ pathway inhibition. The essential oils help to modulate the innate immune system, having a positive influence on the tight junction, enhancing barrier function, and increasing occludin concentration. Occludin is a protein located at tight junctions that supports optimal barrier function. These actions help restrict endotoxin from moving into the body.
Improving Gut Health Throughout Broiler Life
I already mentioned how essential oils are shown to aid in chick performance but they can also support gut health.
The essential oil blend of thymol and carvacrol has shown to be effective3 in reducing cytokines, which increase inflammation. In the study by NOVUS, broilers were exposed to Clostridium perfringens and then fed thymol and carvacrol essential oils as NEXT ENHANCE® 150 Premixture. The broilers showed lower gene expression related to inflammation, indicating that the essential oils helped the bird’s defense mechanism and had a positive effect on intestinal integrity.
Learn more about this essential oil blend.