Pig International - July/August 2017 - 10
10 ❙ PigInternational
5 ways phytogenics improve
pig feed efficiency
Phytogenics are being used with increasing
frequency, but many users are still
uncertain on what constitutes
this additive and
its relation with
BY EFSTRATIA PAPANIKOU
What are these phytogenics?
Phytogenics are almost invariably compounds that belong to secondary plant metabolism. With that, we mean that plants use
these compounds for specific purposes. They do not
participate in the daily or primary plant metabolism,
such as that involving carbohydrate or protein synthesis, for example. Until some years ago, these secondary plant metabolism compounds were characterized
as biologically insignificant because scientists thought
they had no apparent function.
This is a situation similar to what we call "junk
DNA," which is basically DNA for which we currently
cannot identify its use. Likewise, dark matter makes
up 99 percent of the universe, and it is called dark only
because we cannot find out its use, purpose or even
consistency. Coming back to phytogenics, today we
can safely say that their role is pivotal in plant life, if
not for everyday function, at least for long-term survival against environmental threats.
Difference with essential oils
The history of phytogenics began with
extracts; oregano is a very fine example.
A truckload of fresh oregano leaves was
distilled, and the extract was collected, purified and
sold as oregano essential oil. The term essential oil is
a misnomer as it refers to the aroma or "essence" of
a plant and not to its essentiality in any specific way.
These kind of extracts, also known as ethereal oils or
just oil of a specific plant (oil of clove, for example),
are used in human medicine and aromatherapy.
Thus the term essential should not be confused with
"indispensable" but with having a specific aroma.
Another difference is that the original extracts were
a blend of various compounds, most likely more comwww.WATTAgNet.com ❙ July/August 2017
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Phytogenics are a family of additives
with some considerable history. In
fact, phytogenics have been around for
a couple of decades under various names: essential
oils, plant extracts, botanicals and now, phytogenics.
Although the basic compounds that constitute this
family of additives remain, in theory, unchanged, the
way these additives are manufactured and put together
has changed considerably. As such, it merits revisiting
this interesting additive, if only to catch up with the
latest developments and even to establish some basic
facts about them. After all, not much is known about
their role in plants, let alone in animals.