The Supportive Role of Dietary Phytogenic Compounds

Phytogenic compounds are bioactive compounds found in the cell walls of plants and are present in all fruits and vegetables at varying concentrations. While they provide a protective barrier in plants, studies on dietary supplementation of phytogenic compounds have investigated their impact on oxidation and inflammation, and cardiac and digestive health in humans and animals. Importantly, the benefit of phytochemical consumption is broad and can primarily be attributed to the regulation of various metabolic pathways in the body. Consequently, phytogenic compounds can be used to reduce the effects of disease or as a preventative mechanism to support health and longevity.

The metabolism of phytogenic compounds is complex and can be broken down into several pathways. Once consumed, some phytogenic compounds can be absorbed in the small intestine and transported to the liver, where secondary metabolites are produced. Other forms of phytogenic compounds can be transported to the large intestine for fermentation by microbes. These secondary metabolites circulate through the bloodstream, where they provide functional benefits before being excreted through the bile or urine. While the metabolic pathways of phytogenic compounds are complex, their benefit primarily comes after metabolism in the liver. Secondary metabolites of phytogenic compounds can contribute to a healthy microbiome, reduce inflammation in the intestines, and promote integrity of the digestive tract.

Most research supports the use of phytogenic compounds as a source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. For example, a recent review on flavonoid-polyphenols, a widespread group of phytogenic compounds, provided evidence for the use of flavonoids in place of some synthetic sources of antioxidants (Hossein et al., 2023). Additionally, polyphenols have been found to reduce oxidative stress and support muscle recovery post-exercise in humans (Hurst et al., 2010; McAnulty et al., 2011; McLeay et al, 2012) and dogs (Dunlap et al., 2006; Sechi et al., 2017). Finally, phytogenic compounds are known to impact levels of inflammatory cytokines in healthy individuals and can be used to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, which can impact other areas of health.

Given their effect on oxidation and inflammation, flavonoid consumption has also been demonstrated to affect cardiovascular function. Some phytogenic compounds have vasodilating effects (relaxation of the blood vessels), which can improve blood flow and circulation. Research on 17,065 university graduates demonstrated a positive relationship between flavonoid consumption and cardiovascular health, where those with the highest flavonoid intake had 47% fewer instances of adverse cardiac events when compared to those with the lowest flavonoid intake (Mendonça et al., 2019). This said, incorporating foods that are high in phytogenic compounds, such as flavonoids, into the diet may contribute to overall cardiovascular health and well-being.

The Digestarom® product line can be added to animal feed as a source of phytogenic compounds. Digestarom Bos® have five main ingredients including licorice, vanillin, caraway, cinnamon, and clove. Research in a variety of species have assessed the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of these ingredients and their impact on liver and gastrointestinal health. For example, Hosoda et al., 2006 found that Holstein steers fed clove at 5% of their diet (DM) showed an increase in antioxidant activity and improved immunity. Additional research has found the addition of caraway fed at 1% of the diet (DM) showed improvement in rumen digestibility of dry and organic matter and fiber (Rahmy et al, 2019).

Overall, it is important to understand the role phytogenic compounds can play to support human and animal health. For more information on phytogenic compounds or product related questions, please contact a dsm-firmenich representative.


Dunlap, K. L.; Reynolds, A. J.; Duffy, L. K., 2006. Total antioxidant power in sled dogs supplemented with blueberries and the comparison of blood parameters associated with exercise. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology., 143(4): 429–434.

Hosoda, K.; Kuramoto, K.; Eruden, B.; Nishida, T.; Shioya, S., 2006. The Effects of Three Herbs as Feed Supplements on Blood Metabolites, Hormones, Antioxidant Activity, IgG Concentration, and Ruminal Fermentation in Holstein Steers. Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science., 19(1):  35-41.

Hossein Hassanpour, S.; Doroudi, A., 2023: Review of the antioxidant potential of flavonoids as a subgroup of polyphenols and partial substitute for synthetic antioxidants. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine., 13(4): 354-376.

Hurst, R. D.; Wells, R. W.; Hurst, S. M.; McGhie, T. K.; Cooney, J. M.; Jensen, D. J., 2010. Blueberry fruit polyphenolics suppress oxidative stress-induced skeletal muscle cell damage in vitro. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research., 54(3): 353–363.

McAnulty, L. S.; Nieman, D. C.; Dumke, C. L.; Shooter, L.; Henson, D. A.; Utter, A. C.; Milne, G. L.; McAnulty, S. R., 2011. Effect of blueberry ingestion on natural killer cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation prior to and after 2.5 h of running. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism., 36(6): 976–984.

McLeay, Y.; Barnes, M. J., Mundel, T.; Hurst, S. M.; Hurst, R. D.; Stannard, S. R., 2012. Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition., 9(1): 19.

Mendonça, R. D.; Carvalho, N. C.; Martin-Moreno, J. M.; Pimenta, A. M.; Lopes, A. C. S.; Gea, A.; Martinez-Gonzalez, M. A.; Bes-Rastrollo, M., 2019. Total polyphenol intake, polyphenol subtypes and incidence of cardiovascular disease: The SUN cohort study. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease., 29: 69-78.

Rahmy, H. A. F.; El Bana, H. M.; El-Bordeny, N. E.; Mahmoud, A. E. M.; Ghoneem W. A. M., 2019. Effect of Caraway, Fennel and Melissa addition on in vitro Rumen Fermentation and Gas Production. Pakistan Journal Biological Sciences., 22(2): 67-72.

Sechi, S.; Fiore, F.; Chiavolelli, F.; Dimauro, C.; Nudda, A.; Cocco, R., 2017. Oxidative stress and food supplementation with antioxidants in therapy dogs. Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research., 81(3): 206–216.

Published on

19 February 2024


  • Poultry
  • Swine
  • Ruminants
  • Aquaculture
  • Phytogenics
  • Eubiotics

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