Avian coccidiosis is a major parasitic disorder in chickens resulting from the intracellular apicomplexan protozoa Eimeria that target the intestinal tract leading to a devastating disease. Eimeria life cycle is complex and consists of intra- and extracellular stages inducing a potent inflammatory response that results in tissue damage associated with oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation, diarrheal hemorrhage, poor growth, increased susceptibility to other disease agents, and in severe cases, mortality. Various anticoccidial drugs and vaccines have been used to prevent and control this disorder; however, many drawbacks have been reported. Drug residues concerning the consumers have directed research toward natural, safe, and effective alternative compounds. Phytochemical/herbal medicine is one of these natural alternatives to anticoccidial drugs, which is considered an attractive way to combat coccidiosis in compliance with the “anticoccidial chemical-free” regulations. The anticoccidial properties of several natural herbal products (or their extracts) have been reported. The effect of herbal additives on avian coccidiosis is based on diminishing the oocyst output through inhibition or impairment of the invasion, replication, and development of Eimeria species in the gut tissues of chickens; lowering oocyst counts due to the presence of phenolic compounds in herbal extracts which reacts with cytoplasmic membranes causing coccidial cell death; ameliorating the degree of intestinal lipid peroxidation; facilitating the repair of epithelial injuries; and decreasing the intestinal permeability induced by Eimeria species through the upregulation of epithelial turnover. This current review highlights the anticoccidial activity of several herbal products, and their other beneficial effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology