- ESSENTIAL OILS – also called etheric oils, are organic, very odorous substances obtained by extraction (usually by distillation) from herbs and officinal herbs, so-called “aromatic”. Once extracted, they appear as oily, liquid, volatile and fragrant substances like the plant they come from. Despite being called “oils”, they have a molecular structure that is very different from the typical vegetable oils in the kitchen. They are substances of complex composition, which represent the most regal part of the plant, present in the form of tiny droplets in the petals of flowers, in the peel of fruits, in the resin, in the bark of trees and in the roots of plants. The quantity contained in a vegetable depends on the species, the climate and the type of soil. Pharmacologically speaking, essential oils have a purely bactericidal function: they have the ability to kill germs1. For this action, the EO’s are divided into: major germicidal essences – with a remarkable and constant antibacterial action (eg savory, cinnamon, thyme); medium germicidal essences – with variable antibacterial action (eg pine, eucalyptus, lavender, geranium); germicidal soil essences – the germicidal action depends on the soil in which the germ develops. They also perform an antiviral, antioxidant, spasmotic and sedative function. Therefore, having a strong bactericidal action, an Aromatic Index is established for essential oils; it establishes the power of their Germicidal Action. The value is between 0 and 1, the closer it is to 1 and the higher its power will be. The value of GA is attributed through the study of an aromatogram (which relates the halo of inhibition of the EO in question with the halo of an EO with maximum bactericidal power).
- CINNAMON ESSENTIAL OIL – Cinnamon essential oil is derived from Cinnamomum zeylanicum, a plant of the Lauraceae family; it is extracted from the leaves by steam distillation, obtaining a dark yellow liquid with a spicy and sweet fragrance. The main components are: trans-cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl aldehyde, benzaldehyde, phenylethanol, borneol, eugenol, coumarin and cinnamic acid. Depending on the raw material (leaves or bark) from which the essential oil was obtained, the relationship between the two main components – eugenol and cinnamaldehyde – differs significantly. In this case, the oil obtained from the leaves is rich in eugenol (10-95%) and poor in cinnamyl aldehyde (1-5%). It has been shown in various studies that cinnamon essential oil possesses antimicrobial properties against bacteria, yeasts and molds. Its administration, inside feed and supplements, is safe as it is classified as a “GRAS” substance (Generally Recognized As Safe – a substance generally recognized as safe). It therefore presents antiseptic properties, exerting a powerful broad-spectrum antibacterial action; in fact, for internal use, it is useful in case of mycosis2, fermentative enterocolitis3, diarrhea caused by intestinal infections and parasites.
- TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OIL – Tea tree essential oil, known as tea tree oil, of pale yellow color, is derived from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant of the Mirtaceae family. It is a compound well known for its medicinal and cosmetic uses due to its antiseptic, antifungal and antiviral properties4. This shrub grows exclusively on the Australian coast, alongside the water mirrors. The name Melaleuca derives from the Greek mèlas – black and leukòs – white, from the contrast between the dark green of the leaves and the white of the bark. It was defined by the aborigines as “the most versatile healer of nature”; in fact, the oil, originally derived from the crushed leaves, was used as an aromatherapy agent by the indigenous Australian tribes to treat infections. Chemically, the oil is composed mainly of terpene hydrocarbons (especially monoterpenes) and sesquiterpenes, which have the characteristic of being volatile and aromatic, and associated alcohols. The composition of the oil, so that it can be considered tea tree oil, was regulated in 1996 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO); since, although the oil contains more than 100 compounds, the ISO specifies that the first 15 (such as, for example, terpinene-4-ol, α and γ-terpinene, 1,8-cineol, α-pinene, limonene) they are those necessary for the purpose of assigning the name “tea tree oil”. As for the whole class of essential oils, for the tea tree, the antimicrobial activity5 is mainly attributed to the terpinene-4- ol content; this is due to the ability to denature the cytoplasmic membrane proteins of microorganisms.
- GARLIC ESSENTIAL OIL – Garlic (Allium sativum L.), a species of the Alliaceae family, is native to central Asia. The bulbs contain alliin, a sulphoxide compound, which gives the characteristic aroma and flavor of the bulbs. Both fresh garlic and its essential oil are applied in the food industry as natural antimicrobials, flavors and antioxidant agents. The essential oil, obtained by distillation, contains above all: dimethyl trisulfide, diallyl disulfide, diallyl sulfide, diallyl tetrasulfide, 3-vinyl- [4 H] -1,2 -ditiin, allyl disulfide and methyl allyl trisulfide. The antimicrobial characteristic6 of the oil comes from the different diallyl sulfide derivatives contained in it; these derivatives are formed as products of transformation of allicin by the effect of heat, during distillation. In fact, in sulfur compounds, a greater number of sulfur atoms results in greater antimicrobial activity; this explains the good antimicrobial effect of garlic7.
- LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL – essential oil obtained by distillation from the flowering tops of the Lavandula angustifolia, a plant of the Labiate family. Lavender is one of the most popular and used essential oils; there are many botanical species corresponding to the Lavandula genus, but only a few can be considered “medicinal”: Lavandula angustifolia, known as English lavender; L. stoechas, known as French lavender; L. latifolia, a Mediterranean lavender; and L. intermedia, which is a cross between two species. The various lavenders have almost identical traditional uses and a great similarity between the main chemical constituents, including: linalyl acetate, linalool, β-caryophyllene, trans-β-ocimene, cis-β- ocimene, lavandulyl acetate and terpinen-4-ol . Linalol and linalyl acetate are the most present compounds and it is to them that most of the typical properties of the essential oil are attributed. Presents antibacterial, antifungal, carminative (relaxation of the gastrointestinal smooth muscle), anti-inflammatory8, sedative and it seems that, topically is effective on burns and insect bites.
- ESSENTIAL MINT OIL – obtained by steam distillation from the Mentha piperita, a plant of the Lamiaceae family. It is an essential oil particularly rich in menthol (monoterpene characteristic of the plant), with small amounts of sesquiterpenes; mainly consisting of: menthol (38.45%), menton, 1.8-cineol and neo-menthol. It performs various beneficial actions, including: stomachic, carminative, cholagogue and antispasmodic action; useful, in fact, in the case of meteorism, flatulence, indigestion, colitis, diarrhea, spasms, dyspepsias and, more generally, towards those disorders related to the digestive system. It is an excellent antibacterial; as for other essential oils, it has particularly effective bactericidal properties, especially in neutralizing various bacterial strains, against staphylococcus and proteus vulgaris, which causes enterocolitis and urinary tract infections. Antioxidant and furthermore, it is considered an excellent remedy in case of intestinal worms, since, in a short time, it favors the natural expulsion of parasites.
- VITAMINS – Vitamins are bioregulators of great importance as they, together with the hormones, govern all the physiological processes both directly and indirectly through enzymatic mechanisms. Based on solubility they are classified as fat-soluble (stored in the liver, they represent a reserve for the body), which dissolve in fats and in apolar solvents, and water-soluble (they are not accumulated in the body, it is therefore essential to introduce them daily through the diet) which dissolve in water and in polar solvents. All vitamins are responsible for specific tasks and their lack can cause malfunctioning and / or dysfunction in the body.
- VITAMIN E – fat-soluble vitamin (α-tocopherol), very common in the plant world; while, in animal tissues, vitamin E is contained in small doses. It is the most widespread and common among vitamins and has antioxidant properties, fights free radicals and promotes cell renewal. In fact, it is considered the physiological anti-oxidant “par excellence” that protects vitamin A and saturated and unsaturated fatty acids from self-oxidation phenomena. This vitamin also participates in synthesis and metabolic processes; it has surfactant properties and is essential for the genesis of many enzymes and coenzymes, for the synthesis of ascorbic acid and nucleic acids. It is also able to increase the body’s tolerance to toxic substances.
- VEGETABLE EXTRACTS – Nowadays, herbs and officinal plants are used to preserve the well-being of humans and animals; they can be used as they are in the kitchen, like spices; in the preparation of herbal teas, or worked with specific procedures for the production of food supplements, veterinarians, cosmetics and other products. For each officinal plant, the part used (leaves, flowers, seeds, bark, roots etc.) is called “drug”. The drug contains the phytocomplex, ie the set of active ingredients that characterize the properties of the plant, which cannot be reproduced by chemical synthesis. The synergic work of the active principles of the phytocomplex guarantees the plant a series of contemporary actions, which the individual component does not possess.
- PEPPER – From a particular processing of the fruits (the grains are harvested just before they reach maturity, they are left to ferment and dry, until they take on the characteristic shriveled and black appearance) of the Piper nigrum, a plant of the Piperaceae family native of India , black pepper is obtained, a widely used and known spice. The chemically active and most important substance of the spice is piperine, an alkaloid that makes pepper an excellent stimulant, tonic, stomachic and, by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices, facilitates the digestive process by facilitating the absorption of nutrients (useful for drawing the maximum benefit from ingested food). It also contains many mineral salts such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, selenium and iodine and vitamins such as E, A and some of the group B. Numerous species of Piper are also used for treatment of parasitic diseases and as an antibacterial9.
- PUMPKIN SEEDS – pumpkin seeds, collected from some plants of the Curcubitaceae family, are important for their vermifuge properties. They are composed of fats (about 40-50%) containing essential fatty acids such as alpha linoleic acid (omega-6); from carbohydrates (24%) and from proteins (30-37%), with the presence of all 9 essential amino acids. The lipid fraction of the seeds also contains high concentrations of bioactive components such as: phytosterols, carotenoids, tocopherols and phenolic compounds; they have antioxidant activity and play an important role in reducing lipid peroxidation and in maintaining the physiological immune well-being10. Moreover, they are rich in essential microelements such as K, Na, Cr, Mg, Zn, Cu, Mo and Se. The content of vitamin E is also very high, but above all of cucurbitina, a precious amino acid with healing, anti-inflammatory and especially vermifuge properties. The effective vermifuge action is carried out leading to the detachment of parasites from the intestinal walls, thus facilitating their natural expulsion.
- MASTIC OF CHIOS – It is an oleo-resin obtained from the natural exudate of the Lentisco plant, Pistacia Lentiscus, belonging to the Anacardiacee family. By bark incision it is possible, during the balsamic period (spring) to collect the secretion, which coagulates in knots or tears, transparent and yellow, with a characteristic balsamic smell and with a bitter and sour taste. The resin mainly contains essential oil (containing: alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, beta-mircene), a bitter substance ‘masticina’, tannins, masticonic acid, masticoresins, masticinic acid and triterpene alcohol. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties11. It is anti-inflammatory: the mastic resin is used to soothe inflammation of the gastric tract and to protect stomach cells. Useful antiseptic: plays a disinfectant and antibacterial action, useful for disorders, especially of the oral cavity. Finally, antioxidant, thanks to the presence of monoterpenes that exert their action as a scavenger of free radicals.
- APICULTURE BY PRODUCTS – the various products of the hive, resulting from the work of bees, usually include: honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly and waxes. They are various substances that generally have a vegetable origin; some of them are then enriched by the various processes of working, or even, digestion of bees (for example, propolis). The biological activities, recognized to bee products, are mainly attributed to the important content of phenolic compounds (especially flavonoids). Phenolic compounds, in their various forms, are the main components responsible for the functional properties associated with many foods, such as antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective effects. Among these foods, we can include hive products because they contain phenolic compounds collected by bees from the plants from which they collected nectar12.
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