Ocimum sanctum, Zingiber officinale, and Piper nigrum extracts and their effects on gut microbiota modulations (prebiotic potential), basal inflammatory markers and lipid levels: oral supplementation study in healthy rats

Pharm Biol. 2022 Dec;60(1):437-450. doi: 10.1080/13880209.2022.2033797.


Context: Ocimum sanctum Linn (Labiatae) (OS), Zingiber officinale Rose (Zingiberaceae) (ZO), and Piper nigrum Linn (Piperaceae) (PN) are used in traditional medicine as immunomodulator, anti-inflammatory, and bioavailability enhancer agents.

Objective: Active phytoconstituents of OS, ZO, PN hydro-alcoholic extracts and their effects on gut microbiota, basal inflammation and lipid profile were investigated in rats.

Materials and methods: Active phytoconstituents of extracts were analysed using HPLC and GC-MS. SD rats were supplemented with individual/combined extracts (OS-850; ZO-500; PN-100 mg/kg Bw) and Fructooligosaccharide (standard prebiotic-5g/kg-Bw), orally for 30 days. Haematology, lipid profile, LPS, CRP, IL-6, insulin and histology of vital organs were analysed. Caecal bacterial levels were assessed by RT-PCR.

Results: High content of phenolic compounds luteolin-7-O-glucoside (430 ± 2.3 mg/100g), gallic acid (84.13 ± 1.2 mg/100 g) and flavones (88.18 ± 1.8 mg/100 g) were found in OS, ZO, and PN, respectively. Combined extract was rich in luteolin-7-O-glucoside (266.0 ± 1.80 mg/100 g). Essential oils including methyleugenol (13.96%), 6-shogaol (11.00%), piperine (18.26%), and cyclopentasiloxane (10.06%) were higher in OS, ZO, PN and combined extract. Higher levels of caecal Lactobacillus (1.7-3.4-fold), Bifidobacterium (5.89-28.4-fold), and lower levels of Firmicutes (0.04-0.91-fold), Bacteroides (0.69-0.88-fold) were noted among extracts and FOS supplemented rats. Significant (p < 0.05) decrease in plasma lipid profile and LPS was noted in all supplemented rats.

Discussion and conclusions: The current study could be first of its kind in exploring prebiotic potential of OS, ZO, PN and their effect on native gut bacterial population.

Keywords: Herbal extracts on endotoxin; beneficial bacteria; essential oils; phenolic compounds; systemic inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Ocimum sanctum / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Piper nigrum / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Zingiber officinale / chemistry


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Lipids
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Prebiotics

Grants and funding

This research was supported by the ICMR and Golden Triangle partnership (GTP) [Grant nos. 45/41/2012/BMS/TRM and 61/6-4/2007-HIV/BMS/TRM].