Dietary supplementation with Chinese herbal powder enhances ileal digestibilities and serum concentrations of amino acids in young pigs

Amino Acids. 2009 Oct;37(4):573-82. doi: 10.1007/s00726-008-0176-9. Epub 2008 Sep 2.


This study was designed to determine the effect of ultra-fine Chinese herbal powder as a dietary additive on serum concentrations and apparent ileal digestibilities (AID) of amino acids (AA) in young pigs. In Experiment 1, 60 Duroc x Landrace x Yorkshire piglets weaned at 21 days of age were randomly assigned to one of three treatments, representing supplementation with 0 or 2 g/kg of the powder, or 0.2 g/kg of colistin (an antibiotic) to corn- and soybean meal-based diets (n = 20 per group). Blood samples from five piglets per group were collected on days 7, 14, and 28 to determine serum AA concentrations. In Experiment 2, 12 barrows with an average initial body weight of 7.64 kg were randomly assigned to one of the three dietary treatments, followed by surgical placement of a simple T-cannula at the terminal ileum. All of the diets contained 0.1% titanium oxide as a digestibility marker. The samples of terminal ileal digesta were collected on day 7 for determining AID of AA. Results show that dietary supplementation with the herbal powder increased (P < 0.05) serum concentrations and AID of most AA by 10-50% and 10-16%, respectively. As an indicator of improved intestinal function, AID values of calcium were also enhanced in piglets supplemented with the herbal powder. Dietary supplementation of colistin increased serum concentrations and AID values of some AA by 8-44% and 10-15%, respectively, in comparison with the non-supplemented group. These novel findings demonstrate that the herbal powder can enhance the digestibility of dietary protein and the intestinal absorption of AA into the systemic circulation in post-weaning pigs, therefore providing a new mechanism for its growth- and immunity-promoting efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Colistin / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Digestion / drug effects
  • Digestion / physiology*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / administration & dosage*
  • Ileum / drug effects
  • Ileum / physiology*
  • Powders / administration & dosage
  • Swine


  • Amino Acids
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Powders
  • Colistin