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Abstract and Figures

Poultry production contributes markedly to bridging the global food gap. Many nations have limited the use of antibiotics as growth promoters due to increasing bacterial antibiotic tolerance/resistance, as well as the presence of antibiotic residues in edible tissues of the birds. Consequently, the world is turning to use natural alternatives to improve birds’ productivity and immunity. Withania somnifera, commonly known as ashwagandha or winter cherry, is abundant in many countries of the world and is considered a potent medicinal herb because of its distinct chemical, medicinal, biological, and physiological properties. This plant exhibits antioxidant, cardioprotective, immunomodulatory, anti-aging, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antistress, antitumor, hepatoprotective, and growth-promoting activities. In poultry, dietary inclusion of W. somnifera revealed promising results in improving feed intake, body weight gain, feed efficiency, and feed conversion ratio, as well as reducing mortality, increasing livability, increasing disease resistance, reducing stress impacts, and maintaining health of the birds. This review sheds light on the distribution, chemical structure, and biological effects of W. somnifera and its impacts on poultry productivity, livability, carcass characteristics, meat quality, blood parameters, immune response, and economic efficiency.
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TYPE Review
PUBLISHED 02 September 2022
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2022.918961
Domenico Bergero,
University of Turin, Italy
Muhammad Shazaib Ramay,
Ankara University, Turkey
Tiago Goulart Petrolli,
University of West of Santa
Catarina, Brazil
Synan F. AbuQamar
Khaled A. El-Tarabily
This article was submitted to
Animal Nutrition and Metabolism,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Veterinary Science
RECEIVED 14 April 2022
ACCEPTED 11 July 2022
PUBLISHED 02 September 2022
Salem HM, El-Saadony MT, Abd
El-Mageed TA, Soliman SM,
Khafaga AF, Saad AM, Swelum AA,
Korma SA, Gonçalves Lima CM,
Selim S, Babalghith AO, Abd
El-Hack ME, Omer FA, AbuQamar SF,
El-Tarabily KA and Conte-Junior CA
(2022) Promising prospective eects
of Withania somnifera on broiler
performance and carcass
characteristics: A comprehensive
review. Front. Vet. Sci. 9:918961.
doi: 10.3389/fvets.2022.918961
©2022 Salem, El-Saadony, Abd
El-Mageed, Soliman, Khafaga, Saad,
Swelum, Korma, Gonçalves Lima,
Selim, Babalghith, Abd El-Hack, Omer,
AbuQamar, El-Tarabily and
Conte-Junior. This is an open-access
article distributed under the terms of
the Creative Commons Attribution
License (CC BY). The use, distribution
or reproduction in other forums is
permitted, provided the original
author(s) and the copyright owner(s)
are credited and that the original
publication in this journal is cited, in
accordance with accepted academic
practice. No use, distribution or
reproduction is permitted which does
not comply with these terms.
Promising prospective eects of
Withania somnifera on broiler
performance and carcass
characteristics: A
comprehensive review
Heba M. Salem1, Mohamed T. El-Saadony2,
Taia A. Abd El-Mageed3, Soliman M. Soliman4,
Asmaa F. Khafaga5, Ahmed M. Saad6, Ayman A. Swelum7,8,
Sameh A. Korma9, Clara Mariana Gonçalves Lima10,
Samy Selim11, Ahmad O. Babalghith12,
Mohamed E. Abd El-Hack13, Fatima A. Omer14,
Synan F. AbuQamar14*, Khaled A. El-Tarabily14,15,16*and
Carlos Adam Conte-Junior17
1Department of Poultry Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt,
2Department of Agricultural Microbiology, Faculty of Agriculture, Zagazig University, Zagazig, Egypt,
3Soil and Water Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Fayoum University, Fayoum, Egypt, 4Department
of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt,
5Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt,
6Biochemistry Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Zagazig University, Zagazig, Egypt, 7Department
of Animal Production, College of Food and Agriculture Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh,
Saudi Arabia, 8Department of Theriogenology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Zagazig University,
Zagazig, Egypt, 9Department of Food Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Zagazig University, Zagazig,
Egypt, 10Department of Food Science, Federal University of Lavras, Lavras, Minas Gerais, Brazil,
11Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, College of Applied Medical Sciences, Jouf University,
Sakaka, Saudi Arabia, 12Medical Genetics Department, College of Medicine, Umm Al-Qura University,
Makkah, Saudi Arabia, 13Poultry Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Zagazig University, Zagazig,
Egypt, 14Department of Biology, College of Science, United Arab Emirates University, Al-Ain, United
Arab Emirates, 15Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, United Arab Emirates
University, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates, 16Harry Butler Institute, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA,
Australia, 17Center for Food Analysis (NAL), Technological Development Support Laboratory
(LADETEC), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Cidade Universitária, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Poultry production contributes markedly to bridging the global food gap.
Many nations have limited the use of antibiotics as growth promoters due
to increasing bacterial antibiotic tolerance/resistance, as well as the presence
of antibiotic residues in edible tissues of the birds. Consequently, the world
is turning to use natural alternatives to improve birds’ productivity and
immunity. Withania somnifera, commonly known as ashwagandha or winter
cherry, is abundant in many countries of the world and is considered a
potent medicinal herb because of its distinct chemical, medicinal, biological,
and physiological properties. This plant exhibits antioxidant, cardioprotective,
immunomodulatory, anti-aging, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, antimicrobial,
antistress, antitumor, hepatoprotective, and growth-promoting activities. In
poultry, dietary inclusion of W. somnifera revealed promising results in
improving feed intake, body weight gain, feed eciency, and feed conversion
ratio, as well as reducing mortality, increasing livability, increasing disease
resistance, reducing stress impacts, and maintaining health of the birds. This
review sheds light on the distribution, chemical structure, and biological
Frontiers in Veterinary Science 01
Salem et al. 10.3389/fvets.2022.918961
eects of W. somnifera and its impacts on poultry productivity, livability,
carcass characteristics, meat quality, blood parameters, immune response, and
economic eciency.
antioxidant, birds’ productivity, herbal extract, poultry, Withania somnifera
Global food production predominantly depends on animal
protein. In many nations, the poultry business has grown
in importance as a resource of high-quality eggs and
meat to help balance the human food (1). The nutritional
economic demands of various countries for a poultry-based
diet have forced the intensive production of poultry (2).
Furthermore, backyard poultry production is gradually evolving
into economically organized flocks and is considered a
competitive and rapidly growing section of animal-farming
business (3). However, the global poultry industry is facing
numerous challenges of sufficiency, safer products without
any chemical and antimicrobial residues, and environmentally
sustainable production (4). These conditions have led to the
discovery and abundant use of various natural and safe feed
additives that can be included in the poultry ration to improve
productivity through a variety of mechanisms, such as boosting
growth rate, enhancing feed conversion efficiency, decreasing
pathogen propagation, increasing livability, and decreasing
mortality in the poultry industry (4).
The feed additive should be safe, economic, biodegradable,
free from environmental hazards, and non-toxic, as well
as overcoming drug resistance problems and improving
productivity (5). Thus, an eco-friendly substitution of
antibacterial growth promoters (AGPs) with a natural growth
promoter in the avian ration has recently acquired considerable
attention (6,7) to improve productivity and fight infections (8).
Many natural growth promoters (NGPs) such as herbal extracts
(911), probiotics (1215), prebiotics (16,17), phytogenic
compounds (1822), bioactive peptides (2325), essential oils
(2628), organic acids (29), plants and their active constituents
(3035), and green-synthesized nanoparticles (3641) are
recognized as potential and safe alternatives to AGPs (42). The
use of medicinal plants as feed additives to boost development
and health is becoming increasingly common around the world
(43,44) owing to the unique properties of these plants, including
low cost, low toxicity risk, and minimum human health and
environmental hazards (45).
Traditional medicinal herbs are common therapeutics and
more potent in combating the negative impacts of thermal stress
on broiler productivity (44). The predominant mechanism by
which medicinal herbs act in avian rations is to improve the
metabolism by combating stress and regulating hormones (46).
Numerous field studies on medicinal herbs from all over the
world have revealed promising outputs in improving weight gain
(WG) and feed efficiency, reducing mortality, elevating livability,
and maintaining health among different avian species (4749).
One of these medicinal herbs is Withania somnifera L.
Dunal, commonly known as “ashwagandha or “winter cherry”
(50). W. somnifera is a subtropical plant of 30–150 cm height
that belongs to the family Solanaceae and grows naturally
in wide areas of Africa, the East Mediterranean region,
Pakistan, and India (46). This plant is known as “Indian
Ginseng” as it is therapeutically equivalent to Ginseng (51)
and was depicted as an herbal tonic for health maintenance
(52). W. somnifera is described as an adaptogen, antioxidant,
hepatic stimulant, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, astringent,
antifungal, and antibacterial factor (53,54). In addition, extracts
of W. somnifera were reported to be potent immune stimulants
and anticarcinogenic (55,56). Preparations of W. somnifera
were also found to improve circulating antibody titer and
lysosomal enzyme activity and enhance phagocytosis (57).
Therefore, many studies have described W. somnifera extracts
as immunomodulatory (58), antioxidant (59), antitumor (57),
hepatoprotective (60), and antibacterial (61) agents.
Furthermore, W. somnifera significantly improves the blood
profile in the shape of increased hemoglobin (Hb) level and
increased erythrocyte and white blood cell counts (62,63).
Moreover, different parts of the herb have anti-serotonergic
and anabolic characteristics and have potent impacts in the
therapy of arthritis and stress, as well as geriatric problems
(64). W. somnifera was also reported to improve circulating
cortisol, lower fatigue, accelerate physical performance, and
lower refractory depression in livestock exposed to various
stressors (50). Similarly, W. somnifera is thought to strengthen
the physiological and immunological functions of stressed
birds (65).
General characteristics of W.
somnifera, active ingredients, and
their activity
W. somnifera morphological features and
W. somnifera (L.) Dunal, commonly identified as
“ashwagandha, “asgandh, or “winter cherry, is a member of
the family Solanaceae (66). It is a 30–150-cm-high, upstanding,
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Salem et al. 10.3389/fvets.2022.918961
Chemical composition of Withania somnifera.
stellate–tomentose, undershrub with long tuberous roots,
opposite leaves, small greenish flowers, and orange berry-like
fruits (67).
W. somnifera is known as a wild plant in the northwestern
areas of India, expanding from the mountainous region of
Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu to an altitude of 1,500 m
(68). Due to its economic and medicinal properties, it is being
widely cultivated (more than 4,000 ha) in drier parts of India
Chemical composition of W. somnifera
The chemical composition of W. somnifera is illustrated
in Figure 1. The method of extraction of active components
from W. somnifera plants affects the chemical composition
of W. somnifera extracts (71). The chemical composition
of W. somnifera has been widely investigated, and more
than 39 active agents have been extracted, isolated, and
identified in different studies (72,73). Recently, different
phytochemical constituents, such as total phenol, more than
12 alkaloids, 40 withanolides, and many sitoindosides, have
been described (67). The withanolides are a group of naturally
occurring steroidal lactones that impart a distinctive earthy
odor and flavor to ashwagandha (74). These steroids comprise
a lactone with a nine-carbon side chain linked to the C-17
position (71).
Different classes of withanolides have different lactone
moiety variations. Withaferin A was the first member of this
group to be identified (75). The Rf values of withaferin,
withanolides D, and withanolides A (0.86) are 0.32, 0.50, and
0.86, respectively (76). The total alkaloid content in the roots
of W. somnifera was found to vary between 0.13 and 0.31%,
and much higher yields (up to 4.3%) were also reported (77).
In addition, the W. somnifera roots include a small amount of
soluble protein (5.6%) (76).
Pharmacological features of W. somnifera
The pharmaceutical features of W. somnifera are
summarized in Figure 2.W. somnifera is commonly identified as
a “Rasayana” in Ayurveda and is abundant in different ayurvedic
products to enhance strength and stamina (52). The herb was
traditionally utilized to improve youthful vigor, endurance,
and strength, maintain health, accelerate the production of
vital fluids, muscle, blood, lymph, and semen, and increase
the capability of people to overcome environmental stress
(78). The similarities between these rejuvenating features and
those of ginseng roots have led to ashwagandha roots being
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Pharmacological features of Withania somnifera.
known as “Indian Ginseng.” W. somnifera is also established
as a general energy-stimulating tonic known as Medhya
Rasayana that is used to promote learning and to improve
memory (79).
Ashwagandha is one of the main components in 74
Ayurvedic, 9 Siddha, 3 Unani, and 126 herbal preparations
(68). The roots of this plant have been regarded as a useful
internal medicine in rheumatism and dyspepsia and found to
be fully diuretic (80). In recognition of the importance and
value of W. somnifera as a therapeutic agent, this plant has
also been the topic of significant modern scientific interest
and appeared in “WHO monographs on selected medicinal
plants” (81). Recently, many pharmacological research studies
recorded the cardioprotective, immunomodulatory, anti-
aging, neuroprotective, and antioxidant characteristics of W.
somnifera (78).
Biological activities of W. somnifera
Several studies have described a safe, natural, and powerful
antioxidant compound in ashwagandha and other plants
of the family Solanaceae (78,82) as it elevates the levels
of three naturally occurring antioxidant enzymes, namely,
superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase (52).
In addition, oral supplementation of W. somnifera extract
inhibited the increase in fat peroxidation in both rabbits and
mice (83). The antioxidant activity of W. somnifera in mice
was found to be imparted by glycowithanolides, withanolides,
and sitoindosides VII–X (84). Withania usage considerably
enhanced hemoglobin, red blood cell count, and hair melanin
and lowered serum cholesterol level in treated individuals (85),
and Withania root powder prohibited cadmium-stimulated
oxidative stress in chickens and lead-stimulated oxidative
damage in mice (86). In addition, W. somnifera (500 mg/kg
body weight) exhibited an anti-nephron–cytotoxic effect when
examined in mice with (87).
W. somnifera is a potent immune stimulant (78) and
markedly improved the humoral-mediated (12%) and
cell-mediated immune response (19.27%) (76)via the
improvement in the numbers of neutrophil, gamma-interferon
(IFN-γ), interleukin-2 (IL-2), and granulocyte–macrophage
colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) (88). Withaferin A and
withanolide D present in the root extract of W. somnifera
increased the antimicrobial activity of immune cells by boosting
nitric oxide synthase action of the macrophages (89).
W. somnifera is also a natural source of anti-inflammatory
steroids and exhibits potent anti-inflammatory effects (90).
Extracts of W. somnifera have an anti-inflammatory activity in
different rheumatological situations (91). The extracts markedly
lowered both paw swelling and bony degenerative alterations
in rats with arthritis induced by Freund’s adjuvant (78).
Withaferin A safely and effectively suppressed the arthritic
syndrome in a study on arthritic animals. Individuals treated
with hydrocortisone showed weight loss, while the animals
medicated with withaferin A revealed weight gain (92).
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Ashwagandha was reported as a natural antidepressant and
anxiolytic agent (78,93). The root extracts of ashwagandha
induce a γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-like activity that is
responsible for the anti-anxiety effects (94). In addition,
W. somnifera exhibits a dose-dependent antistress activity
in treated mice (90). Ashwagandha roots include steroids
that act as exogenous adrenocortical steroids and decrease
adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion and,
consequently, endogenous steroid production. Therefore,
W. somnifera is considered a growth promoter, particularly
during development (49).
Extracts of W. somnifera also presented large dose-
dependent responses in different parameters such as pulse rate,
blood pressure, serum cortisol, creatinine, protein, hemoglobin,
and considerably higher responses in mean fasting serum lipid
and blood glucose (95). Methanolic extracts of ashwagandha
reduced ulcer index, volume of gastric secretion, free acidity, and
total acidity in models of gastric ulcer in rats (96). Sitoindosides
IX and X, two glycowithanolides from W. somnifera, showed
a potent antistress action, caused marked mobilization and
stimulation of peritoneal macrophages and phagocytosis, and
improved the activity of lysosomal enzymes (97).
Withanolides have both antibacterial and antifungal
activities (68). The root extract of W. somnifera exhibited
a significant in vitro antibacterial activity against Raoultella
planticola,Bacillus subtilis,Enterobacter aerogens,Klebsiella
pneumoniae,Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and Escherichia coli
(98). The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of W.
somnifera was 0.039 mg mL1against K. pneumoniae,E.
aerogens, and A. tumefaciens.W. somnifera root extracts also
demonstrated an effective antifungal activity against Fusarium
solani (54).
W. somnifera root powder is traditionally used for the
treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis and bubonic plague in
Garhwal Himalaya (99). In broiler chicks, supplementation
of 20% W. somnifera root extract at 20 mL L1of water
lowered the severity, mortality, and recovery time of E. coli
challenge and improved the humoral and cellular immune
responses, suggesting the root extract had a protective effect
in minimizing the impact of E. coli infection in these birds
(100). W. somnifera also alleviated infectious bursal disease virus
(IBDV)-induced stress and histological and immunological
alterations and reduced IBDV persistence in the host (101).
These findings were confirmed by Kumari et al. (98) in a trial
with Salmonella-challenged broiler chickens. The Salmonella-
challenged chickens supplemented with 0.5% Withania showed
less reduction in the body weight (1,800 ±130.38 g) compared
with unsupplemented Salmonella-challenged chickens (1,600
±70.71 g), while a significantly higher body weight of 1,980
±66.33 g was obser ved in uninfected Withania-supplemented
broilers compared with the control uninfected group.
W. somnifera alkaloids display long-standing hypotensive,
bradycardic, and respiratory-stimulant activities due to the
autonomic ganglion blocking effect and depressant action on
higher cerebral centers (102). Ashwagandha also restored the
myocardial antioxidant status and retained membrane integrity
by lowering malonyl dialdehyde levels in isoprenaline-induced
heart muscle necrosis in mice (103).
The glycowithanolides withaferin A (VII–X), which are
found in the roots of ashwagandha, control the growth of
nerve cell dendrites, exhibit a GABA mimetic effect during
healing of brain tissue, and reverse neurotic atrophy or synaptic
loss leading to dementia (104). Ashwagandha root extract also
elevates cortical muscarinic acetylcholine receptor capacity,
which leads to a cognition-enhancing and memory-enhancing
activity in humans and animals (105). Ashwagandha has been
considered as a tonic and nootropic agent and accompanied
an enhancement in scopolamine-induced memory deficits in
mice (104). W. somnifera methanolic extracts induce neurite
extension, and dendritic atrophy could be avoided by treatment
with withanolides (104).
Withaferin A also presented antitumorigenic, anticancer,
and antiproliferative effects against different tumor cell lines
(106) due to a depression in the expression of nuclear factor-
kappa B and suppression of intercellular tumor necrosis factor,
as well as potentiation of radiation-induced apoptosis in
tumorous cell lines (107,108). An alcoholic extract of W.
somnifera had an antitumor and radio-sensitizing activity in
Chinese hamster cells and Swiss mice inoculated with Ehrlich
ascites carcinoma cells (109,110). W. somnifera extract also
reduced leucopenia induced by clophosmide in experimental
animals (111).
W. somnifera exhibits hypoglycemic, diuretic, and
hypocholesterolemic effects (112). W. somnifera root extracts
produce hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic impacts in alloxan-
induced diabetic rats (113,114). These antidiabetic effects
may be due to enhanced hepatic metabolism, improvement
in insulin synthesis from pancreatic β-cells, or insulin-sparing
activity (115).
Impacts of W. somnifera on
performance, blood parameters, and
carcass quality of birds
The impacts of W. somnifera on birds’ performance and
productivity are summarized in Figure 3 and Table 1.
Impacts of W. somnifera on feed intake,
body weight gain, and feed conversion
ratio of birds
The inclusion of Withania in broiler feed improved feed
consumption during the final 3 weeks (fourth to sixth week)
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Impacts of Withania somnifera supplementation on birds’ performance and productivity.
of a trial (117). Sanjyal and Sapkota (130) recorded the
average weekly feed consumption of 222, 432, 716, 764, and
798 g, respectively, from the second to the sixth week on a
Withania-containing ration, with the highest digestibility (P
<0.05) observed in ashwagandha-supplemented chickens. FI
was 7.9% higher in Withania-supplemented chickens compared
with the control birds. Ansari et al. (135) also recorded
significantly increased FI (4,580.64 g) in broilers maintained
on 1% W. somnifera root powder-based ration compared with
unsupplemented chickens (3,954.22 g).
However, Shisodiya et al. (118) recorded a reduction in FI
in broilers on a 0.5% Withania-based diet compared with the
control birds. The effect of Withania feeding on digestibility
of the feed was also recorded by Pandey et al. (119) who
observed a significantly higher body weight with concurrent
significantly reduced FI (3,720.85 g bird1) in broilers on a
Withania-based diet as compared to the control birds (3,916
g bird1). The average weekly FI of broiler chickens (kg/bird)
from 1 to 6 weeks of age as a result of dietary inclusion of a
Withania-based indigenous herbal drug revealed marked (P<
0.05) differences in the weekly feed consumption of broilers and
was reported to be 0.230, 0.370, 0.530, 0.760, 0.770, and 0.960 kg,
respectively, in the control birds and 0.210, 0.360, 0.510, 0.740,
0.750, and 0.930 kg, respectively, in the treated group (120).
However, it was also observed that the level of Withania root
powder supplementation at either 1 g or 2 g kg1of feed in
the basal diet did not reveal a significant difference in overall
FI in broiler chickens (138). The FI of Japanese quails was also
improved on a 1% Withania root powder-containing basal diet
(3,536.35 g) compared wit h the control group (3,154.18 g) (134).
Vasanthakumar et al. (132) also recorded significantly increased
FI in broilers maintained on 1% W. somnifera root powder-
based ration compared with unsupplemented control chickens.
Ghosal et al. (97) discussed the general health tonic activity
of W. somnifera. The results of various investigations on W.
somnifera revealed that it has an anabolic impact and increases
liver biosynthesis to raise the body weight in animals and
humans (91). Moreover, numerous researchers have reported
that medicinal herbs, particularly W. somnifera, could be
employed as growth promoters in poultry diets to improve
productivity. With supplementation of 0.5% W. somnifera
root powder in broiler chicks, Shisodiya et al. (118) reported
substantial improvements in growth parameters such as low
birth weight (LBW) and weekly BWG. Vasanthakumar et al.
(132) also referred to the beneficial effect of ashwagandha
in broilers. Furthermore, Ansari et al. (135) examined the
comparative efficacy of six medicinal herbs, such as W.
somnifera,Nigella sativa,Ipomea digitata,Boerhavia diffusa,
Azadirachta indica, and Corylus avellana, on the performance of
210-day-old broiler chickens and recorded the maximum WG in
the group supplemented with W. somnifera (1,819 g), followed
by Nigella sativa (1,805 g) and Azadirachta indica (1,800 g),
when plants were supplemented at a rate of 4 g kg1of feed.
Herbal drugs, including W. somnifera,Asparagus racemosus, and
Mucuna pruriens, improved the body weight of VenCobb-400
broilers (120).
The synergistic effect of three different herbs, namely,
ashwagandha, shatavari, and kapikachhu, on production
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TABLE 1 Withania somnifera eects and application.
Type of herbal extract Dose Route of
Species Effect References
W. somnifera Extract of W. somnifera 20 g
Drinking water Broiler chickens Improves feed intake and body weight (116)
Polyherbal formulation
including Phyllanthus
emblica, Ocimum sanctum,
Terminalia chebula, and W.
One and 2 ml/100 birds/day
for 0–42 days
Polyherbal liquid
dietary inclusion
Broiler chickens Improves feed intake at the last 3 weeks of
rearing period, optimizes protein and fat
content of raw meat, and also maintains
sensory quality of meat
W. somnifera W. somnifera-based diet
Feed additives Broiler chickens Shows lower feed intake and improves
growth parameter such as body weights and
weekly gain in body weights
Medicinal plants mix
including W. somnifera,
Shatavari Asparagus
racemosus, and Mucuna
Herbal drug (2%) along with
the basal ration for 42 days
Feed additives Broiler chickens Improves body weight, improves the quality
of meat, and fetches more economic return
Withania somnifera,
Asparagus racemosus, and
Mucuna pruriens
Herbal drug (2%)/kg diet/42
Feed additive Broiler chickens Shows a significant (p<0.05) difference in
weekly feed consumption
Ashwagandha root powder Basal diet (0.25%– and 0.5%)
for 6 weeks
Feed additives Broiler chickens Increases productivity, average weekly body
weight gain, feed conversion ratio, and blood
biochemical profile
W. somnifera root extract W. somnifera root extract
(20%) at 20 mL1of water
Drinking water Broiler chickens Lowers the pathogenicity, mortality, and
recovery time of Escherichia coli challenge.
Stimulates the humoral and cellular
immunity and shows protective impact on
lowering the pathogenicity of Escherichia coli
Ashwagandha and selenium Ashwagandha (2.5%) and 0.20
mg kg1selenium in the diet
Feed additives Broiler chickens Improves growth performance and carcass
W. somnifera W. somnifera (0, 100, and 200
mg kg1) diet
Feed additives Broiler chickens Improves the bird productivity, immunity,
and meat oxidative stability under oxidative
stress status
Ashwagandha root powder Ashwagandha root powder
(0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1%) on
Feed additives Layer chickens Improves egg production and increase egg
W. somnifera root extract W. somnifera (2.5 or 5.0%)
root extract
Feed additives Broiler chickens Did not have any adverse impacts on
productivity, immunity, serum biochemical
constituents, and hematological index
W. somnifera root powder W. somnifera (1%) of the feed Feed additives Broiler chickens Alleviates infectious bursal disease
virus-induced stress and histological and
immunological alterations. Reduces gumboro
virus persistence in the host
Shatavari and ashwagandha Shatavari (2.5 g) +2.5 g
ashwagandha powder kg1
Feed additives Broiler chickens Improves productivity of chickens under
cage conditions without having negative
impact on feed conversion ratio
W. somnifera root powder W. somnifera (0.5, 1, and 2%)
root powder
Feed additives 200-day-old chicks Enhances growth rate, feed consumption,
and feed conversion and reduces mortality
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TABLE 1 (Continued)
Type of herbal extract Dose Route of
Species Effect References
Shatavari and ashwagandha Shatavari (2.5 g) +2.5 g
ashwagandha powder/kg feed
Feed additives Broiler chickens Increases performance in caged conditions.
Improves body weight and feed intake
Probiotic (Lactobacillus
acidophilus) with three herbal
growth promoters, Amla,
Tulsi, and ashwagandha
Feed was fortified with
probiotics, dried and
powdered herbs as per the
requirement per ton of feed
Feed additive Broiler chicks Herbal-treated birds revealed maximum live
body weight (290 g) during second, third, and
fifth weeks of the trial and improved growth
performance, carcass characteristics, and
dressing percentage
W. somnifera extract W. somnifera extract (20 g) Feed additives Broiler chickens Improves body weight (131)
Ashwagandha root extract
and ashwagandha root
Root extract (0.15%) of
ashwagandha and 0.5%
ashwagandha root powder
Feed additives Broiler chickens Improves body weight when 0.15% root
extract of ashwagandha was used
Withania somnifera root
powder (Ayucee premix)
Ayucee (100 g ton1of feed) Polyherbal feed
Broiler chickens Improves body weight and bird productivity
under heat stress in the summer season
Ashwagandha root powder Ashwagandha root powder
Feed additives Japanese quails Improves body weight. Improves feed
efficiency. Improves the immune status
W. somnifera root powder W. somnifera root powder
Feed additives Broiler chickens
under heat stress
Improves body weight, weekly body weight
gain, and feed conversion ratio
Nigella sativa, Boerhavia
diffusa, W. somnifera, Ipomea
digitata, Azadirachta indica,
and Corylus avellana
diet (4 g kg1) Feed additives Broiler chickens Increases production (135)
Ashwagandha W. somnifera root ethanolic
extract (50, 100 mg/kg/day)
Orally Japanese quails
under heat stress
Improves body weight gain when 100 mg/kg
ethanolic extract was used
W. somnifera leaves W. somnifera leaves 0.75 g
kg1leaves/kg diet
Feed additives Broiler chickens Increases body weight in the 4th and 5th
week of age
W. somnifera root powder
and guduchi stem powder
W. somnifera 1 and 2 g kg1
Feed additives Broiler chickens Improves significantly body weight. Lowers
mortalities. Shows no significant differences
in feed conversion ratio
W. somnifera Two-fold serial dilutions of
20% aqueous W. somnifera
root extract
In vitro In vitro
antibacterial activity
testing against
Escherichia coli O78
Shows maximum inhibition of bacterial
growth at 1:8 dilution of W. somnifera root
performance of broilers was examined by Pandey et al.
(119), and they concluded that ashwagandha, shatavari, and
kapikachhu powder mixture in the ratio of 2:1:1 when added at
a rate of 2% in the poultry ration of the VenCobb-400 broilers
resulted in a higher body weight compared with that of the
control chicks. The increased productivity of herbs-treated
groups was attributed to the immunomodulatory, antioxidant,
and antistress effects of W. somnifera (128,139,140). The
feasibility of replacing antibiotic growth promoters with herbal
growth promoters was discussed by Sanjyal and Sapkota (130) in
a trial performed on 192 VenCobb-400 broilers with antibiotic
(chlortetracycline), probiotic (Lactobacillus acidophilus), and
three herbal (amla, tulsi, and ashwagandha) growth promoters.
In this trial, the optimal live body weight (290 g) was observed
in the Withania-treated group during the second week of the
experiment and was significantly larger compared with the
control and other treatments. The Withania-supplemented
group also showed the maximum WG during the third (194 g)
and fifth (412 g) weeks of the trial (130). The positive impact
of W. somnifera on BWG of birds might be explained by the
phytogenic contents of W. somnifera increasing the secretion
of endogenous enzymes, improving hepatic function, and
increasing hepatic protein biosynthesis, which are reflected in
an increased BWG of the treated birds.
Rindhe et al. (117) compared the efficacy of W. somnifera-
containing herbal formulation with synthetic ascorbic acid
in a 42-day trial on VenCobb-400 broilers and found that
the mean live body weight of the Withania-supplemented
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group was significantly (P<0.01) higher (2,281.67 ±
4.05 g) compared with that of chickens supplemented with
ascorbic acid (2,173.33 ±4.31 g) and control birds (2,000.00
±8.35 g). Kumari et al. (98) recorded less reduction in
the body weight (1,800 ±130.38 g) in 0.5% Withania-
supplemented Salmonella-challenged chickens compared with
unsupplemented Salmonella-challenged chickens (1,600 ±
70.71 g) and a significantly higher body weight of 1,980 ±66.33 g
in uninfected Withania-supplemented broilers compared with
uninfected control broilers. The body weight of broilers
was significantly impacted by supplementation with 20 g W.
somnifera extract L1water when compared with the control
chicks (1,736.59 ±0.44 g vs. 1,452.13 ±0.89 g, respectively) (98).
Similar impacts on the body weight of broiler chicks
following administration of 20 g W. somnifera extract were
recorded by Sajjad (131) and Kakar (141). Furthermore, a
0.15% root extract of ashwagandha was significantly (p<0.05)
superior in improving the body weight of broilers as compared
to the control and 0.5% ashwagandha root powder-fed chickens
(2,297.11 ±49.8 g vs. 1,947.83 ±41.39 g vs. 2,214.78 ±57.41 g,
respectively) (132). These results corroborated the data of Singh
et al. (85) who also recorded the elevated body weight in
ashwagandha-fed chickens. A dose-dependent positive impact
of W. somnifera on LBW and BWG in broilers was reported
in several studies. A dose-related effect of Withania during the
different weeks of a trial was reported in the study of Ahmed
et al. (137). In this trial, the body weight of Ross broiler chickens
in weeks 4 and 5 of the trial was affected more significantly
(P0.05) by the addition of W. somnifera to basal feed compared
with the control chickens, and during the period from 3 to 4
weeks of age, chickens that received 0.75 g W. somnifera resulted
in a significantly (P0.05) higher BWG compared with control
and other treated groups, whereas the final body weight and
BWG at the final interval (4–5 weeks) were significantly (P
0.05) incre ased in 1.5 g Withania-supplemented chickens (137).
The improvement in the body weight with age may be due to
the impact of W. somnifera in stimulating the thyroid gland
directly and/or through the pituitary gland to secrete more
thyroid anabolic hormones (137).
Similarly, Joshi et al. (138) proved the anabolic effect of W.
somnifera with two different doses (T2: 1 g kg1feed and T3:
2 g kg1feed) and noticed a marked (P<0.05) impact on
overall body weight of broilers and chicks maintained on 2 g
Withania/kg of feed (T3), with a final body weight of 2,199.30
±40.20 g compared with 2,138.86 ±34.5 g (T2) and 2,076.26
±22.27 g (T1: control). Average weekly BWGs were higher in
W. somnifera-fed groups compared with the control at the first
and third weeks and overall, for the trial. In addition, the total
WG (g) was statistically highest (2,152.98 ±40.27 g) in the group
that received 2 g Withania/kg feed. On the contrary, Thange
et al. (142) did not observe any impact of various doses of
dietary supplementation of W. somnifera on the body weight
in broilers. The dietary supplementation of ashwagandha not
only improved the body weight in the thermo-comfort zone
but also accelerated the body weight in temperature extremes.
Furthermore, a polyherbal premix containing W. somnifera root
powder added to the chicken feed significantly improved the
body weight of broilers after a 6-week trial in the summer
when the mean temperature–humidity index (84.74 ±2.51) was
greater than the thermo-comfort zone of broilers (133).
Japanese quails also exhibited an improvement in
performance with the supplementation of ashwagandha.
The addition of 1% ashwagandha root powder significantly (P
<0.05) enhanced the body weight of Japanese quail chicks
(134). Similarly, Ahmed et al. (136) reported a significant (P
0.05) improvement in BWG of quails fed with a 100 mg
kg1ethanolic extract of ashwagandha as compared to the
control birds.
The FCR (amount of feed intake/unit LWG) ultimately
determines the economics of the broiler industry. A significant
reduction in FCR was recorded by Shisodiya et al. (118) in
broiler chicks when the basal diet was supplemented with
0.5% Withania root powder. Comparison of the effect of
Withania and five different herbs, such as Corylus avellana,
Boerhavia diffusa,Ipomea digitata,Azadirachta indica, and
Nigella sativa, in broilers also revealed a significantly better
FCR during most weeks in the birds fed the Withania-
included diet (135). Rindhe et al. (117) reported a lower
FCR (2.05) in ashwagandha-fed birds compared with ascorbic
acid-supplemented and control broilers. A comparative study
conducted by Sanjyal and Sapkota (130) in broiler chickens
resulted in an improved FCR in a group fed with Withania root
powder compared with antibiotic and two other herbs, namely,
amla and tulsi.
Srivastava et al. (120) recorded enhanced weekly FCR from
the first to the sixth week of age in Withania-treated broilers.
The overall FCR (1.74) during all the weeks was statistically very
low in broilers reared on 2% herbal formulation containing 50%
Withania powder compared with the control birds (2.07) (119).
A numerically improved feed conversion efficiency was recorded
by Vasanthakumar et al. (132) in broiler chickens reared on
0.15% ashwagandha root extract. However, the graded level of
Withania supplementation at 1 g kg1of feed and 2 g kg1of
feed did not result in a significant (P>0.05) difference in FCR in
broiler chickens (138). Non-significant differences in FCR were
also reported by Thange et al. (142). The improvement in feed
efficiency was also observed in Japanese quails (134) with the
addition of W. somnifera. 0.5%, 1.0%, and 1.5% Withania root
powder feed supplementation (143). The enhanced FCR (P
0.05) was also reported when quails were supplemented with
the ashwagandha root ethanolic extract (100 mg and 200 mg
kg1feed) or with 2 g kg1diet of root powder in contrast to
controls (136). A significant increase in FI of 3,231.27 ±0.44 g
was recorded in broiler chicks supplemented wit h a 20 g extract
of W. somnifera L1water when compared with the control
group (2,864.91 ±0.89 g) (144).
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To summarize, the overall improvement in the performance
of poultry supplemented with dietary W. somnifera could be due
to the impact of W. somnifera on increasing the level of the
anabolic hormones, enhancing endogenous enzyme production,
increasing nutrient digestion and absorption, improving liver
function, increasing antioxidant capacity, and elevating hepatic
protein biosynthesis.
Impacts of W. somnifera on
hematological and biochemical blood
The hematinic activity of W. somnifera on broiler chickens
was recorded by Kumari et al. (98), who found a significantly
higher Hb level, the packed cell volume (PCV), and non-
significant mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean
corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) values between
control and Withania-treated birds. The hematinic activity of
W. somnifera root powder is attributed to direct and indirect
action on the hematological parameters. A direct positive
impact of W. somnifera was noticed on hemopoiesis in broiler
chicks via stimulation of stem cell proliferation and improved
bone marrow cellularity (49,144). Also, W. somnifera root
powder protected red blood cells from oxidative stress in broiler
chickens through its antioxidant effect and improvement in the
erythrocytic enzyme activity (133). Daisy (145) in broilers and
Bhardwaj et al. (134) in Japanese quails reported significant
improvements in total erythrocytic numbers. Less intense
anemia was recorded in Salmonella-infected broiler chickens
raised on ashwagandha root powder, with the chicks rapidly
recovering from Salmonella infection (98). In broilers treated
with the extract of Withania root powder (10, 20, and 30 g L1),
there was no significant difference in Hb levels (116). In contrast,
Bhardwaj et al. (134) discovered a considerable increase in Hb
content in Japanese quails. The PCV value of broilers treated
with Withania extract at 10 and 20 g L1was considerably
greater compared with that of the equivalent control group
chicks (116).
Bhardwaj et al. (134) found a significant and linear rise
in PCV in Japanese quails after adding increasing amounts
of ashwagandha root powder (0.5, 1.0, and 1.5%) compared
with the untreated quails. Marked elevations in phagocytic cell
counts (55,146,147), along with an increase in phagocytic
potential, were reported in avian species supplemented with W.
somnifera (128). Furthermore, Gautam et al. (62) recorded a
marked elevation in numbers of white blood cells of broilers.
A higher mean total leukocyte count in chicks supplemented
with 20 g L1Withania root extract was recorded; however,
differences in the levels of monocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils,
and lymphocytes in Withania-supplemented chicks were not
significant when compared with the values found in the
control chicks (116). The level of lymphocytes in broilers
treated with 1.5% ashwagandha was significantly elevated
up to 53.59% with no change in heterophil and monocyte
levels (134).
The considerable hypoglycemic effect (12%) of W. somnifera
root powder observed in human subjects was infrequently
confirmed in broilers (112). The blood glucose level in broilers
at the end of the sixth week of a trial was unaffected by a herbal
preparation including W. somnifera root powder supplemented
at 2% in basal diet (120). A similar non-significant role of
ashwagandha on serum glucose levels was recorded in guinea
pigs (148). Furthermore, broilers treated with ashwagandha
leaves also showed non-significant alterations in blood glucose
levels (137). However, lower plasma glucose (182.18 mg dl1)
was reported in broiler chickens treated with Withania at 0.01%
of diet compared with that of control birds (249.52 mg dl1)
(133). The hypoglycemic impact of ashwagandha in broilers was
predominantly reported under stress (149).
The elevation in serum protein following administration of
Withania is due to the direct anabolic effect of ashwagandha or
occurs indirectly through an increase in thyroid hormone level
(150). During experimental hyperglycemia, W. somnifera root
extract was reported to effectively reverse increased proteolysis
and lower protein levels and improve serum albumin and total
protein levels, which never strayed from the normal range
during the experiment (113). The serum protein regulatory
activity of ashwagandha was confirmed by Verma and Gaur
(76) in pesticides-intoxicated cockerels, with 20 mg Withania
root extract/bird/day producing a marked elevation in serum
protein levels in the cockerels. In Salmonella-infected broilers,
0.5% ashwagandha root powder had a strong resistive effect on
serum protein and albumin levels, as well as a marked elevation
in serum globulin level (98). However, ashwagandha leaves did
not confer this protein-modulating role (137). Significant rises in
serum total protein and globulin concentrations with numerical
elevation in albumin level were observed in broilers raised on W.
somnifera root powder (151), and W. somnifera root extract at
20 mg/day/bird for month significantly accelerated serum total
protein to 24.42 g/100 mL compared with 15.7 g 100 mL1in
control cockerels (150).
The anabolic impact of ashwagandha was more effective
under stress in broilers. In addition, a significant recovery from
enrofloxacin-induced hypoproteinemia was reported in broilers
treated with ashwagandha (152). Reductions in the severity of
depression in serum total protein and albumin were recorded
in Salmonella gallinarum-challenged broilers on ashwagandha
supplementation (98). Withania-supplemented broiler chickens
revealed higher plasma protein and total globulin levels
compared with the control birds (133). Locally prepared herbal
drugs, including W. somnifera,Mucuna pruriens, and Asparagus
racemosus, supplemented at 2% of broiler ration resulted in non-
significant differences in serum total protein among control and
treated birds (120).
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The total plasma cholesterol at 0.01% ashwagandha of
broiler ration was significantly decreased compared with that of
untreated control birds (133). Moreover, 2% W. somnifera root
powder supplementation in layers revealed a 30% reduction in
egg cholesterol concentrations and 26% lowering in egg-yolk
triglycerides (153). Research in humans and rats verified the
hypocholesterolemia and hypolipidemic impact of ashwagandha
root powder (112,113). The addition of 0.5% ashwagandha
root powder markedly lowered the concentration of two major
negative hepatic health indicator enzymes, namely, serum
alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase
(AST), in broilers infected with Salmonella gallinarum, while
lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity remained markedly higher
until the end of the experiment (35 days) and a significantly low
decline in alkaline phosphatase (ALP) was recorded (98).
The hepatoprotective and cardioprotective activity of
ashwagandha is due to the presence of alkaloids, withanolides,
and free-radical scavenging characteristics of ashwagandha
(60). E. coli-challenged guinea pigs and treated with W.
somnifera also revealed a similar decrease in ALT and AST
concentrations (148). Supplementation of ashwagandha in
pesticides-intoxicated cockerels markedly reduced the toxic
impact of the pesticides in terms of lowering ALT and AST
concentrations with a concurrent significant appreciation in the
activity of ALP related to development (149). The ALT- and
AST-reducing effect of roots of W. somnifera was not observed
with leaves of ashwagandha in broiler chickens (132). In
contrast, a trial on a herbal preparation containing W. somnifera
did not significantly impact serum ALT and AST in broiler
chickens fed at 2% per kg of ration (120). A calcium-sparing
impact of ashwagandha was recorded by Varma et al. (149).
Finally, the positive impact of W. somnifera on
hematological and biochemical blood parameters could
be attributed to the hematinic activity of W. somnifera in
stimulating stem cell proliferation, improving bone marrow
cellularity, elevating antioxidant capacity that delays lipid
oxidation, increasing erythrocytic enzyme activity, improving
phagocytic activity, elevating white blood cells production,
regulating serum proteins, and reducing total plasma cholesterol
and its different alkaloids. In addition, the withanolide contents
of W. somnifera act as free-radical scavengers that mitigate
the oxidative stress impacts and show hepatoprotective and
cardioprotective effects.
W. somnifera antioxidant potential and its
impacts on carcass characteristics and
meat quality
Following exposure to acute and chronic heat stress,
significant negative impacts on livability, productivity,
immunity, and illness susceptibility were observed in poultry
(154). Heat stress might contribute to the inferiority of acquired
immunity in high-meat-yielding broiler lines. Heat stress
lowered both cell-mediated and humoral immunity in birds,
explored through evaluation of phagocytic activities and serum
antibody titers, respectively (155). Significant amelioration (P
<0.05) in recovery from Salmonella gallinarum experimental
infection was observed at 28 days post-infection of broilers
supplemented with ashwagandha root powder (156).
The usage of different antioxidants in Cobb male broilers
revealed a linear increase in serum T3 and T4 under heat stress
(157). Furthermore, the use of a herbal preparation at 0.01%
in basal feed—containing W. somnifera as one of the main
ingredients—under thermal stress (84.74 ±2.51 temperature–
humidity index) significantly accelerated serum total protein
and serum globulin in broiler chickens compared with the
control birds, while there was non-significant variation in
albumin content between treated and control broilers (133).
Ashwagandha protects broilers in terms of lowering
mortality due to infection-related stress and promotes early
recovery from disease. A ten-fold lower mortality (1.42%),
relative to the control (14.28%), was reported by Pandey et al.
(119) in broilers supplemented with ashwagandha. Kumari et al.
(98) observed a considerable decline (50%) in mortalities of
broiler chickens when the birds were supplemented with 0.5%
W. somnifera root powder. The antistress and adaptogenic
effect of ashwagandha lowered the severity of the infection
and facilitated the early recovery of broilers from experimental
infection with Salmonella gallinarum. Also, the cumulative
mortalities in broilers were reported to be 4.4, 2.2, and 2.2% in
control, 0.1%, and 0.2% ashwagandha-fed broilers, respectively
(138). Similar results were recorded in mice treated with W.
somnifera during experimental salmonellosis, indicating that
supplementation with W. somnifera might have a promising
impact in various species (61,120).
Sanjyal and Sapkota (130) reported a higher dressing
percentage in Withania-raised broilers (78%) as compared to the
control birds (76%). A similar finding was reported by Ahmed
et al. (137) who showed a non-significant elevation in dressing
percentage in birds supplemented wit h 1.5 g ashwagandha leaves
(76.41%) when compared with the control birds (75.23%).
The leg weight of control (23.46%) and ashwagandha-fed
broilers (22.20%) was also not significantly different (130).
Congruent with this, non-significant differences in breast (40.18
and 37.04%) and thighs cut percent (25.90 and 27.60%) were
reported in treated and control broilers (137). Conversely,
Rindhe et al. (117) recorded a positive impact of a polyherbal
antistress and antioxidant preparation containing W. somnifera,
Ocimum sanctum,Terminalia chebula, and Phyllanthus emblica
in increasing the carcass yield, dressing percentage, and filet,
tender, and giblet yields. In the supplemented group, carcass
yield was improved by 29.64%, dressing percentage by 0.83%,
filet yield by 23.2%, tender yield by 12.88%, and giblet yield
by 10.8%.
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Impacts of Withania somnifera supplementation on broiler meat quality.
Similar findings of higher dressing percentage, breast
weight, and leg weight were reported in groups fed with
10 ml plant extract (62.3%) when compared with control
(51.11%) (158). The weight of liver in 1% ashwagandha and
0.15% ashwagandha extract (2.50)-supplemented broiler
groups showed non-significant increases in the examined
measures compared with the control chickens (132).
Also, Sanjyal and Sapkota (130) found statistically similar
percentage relative weights of liver, heart, and gizzard
in broilers raised with W. somnifera. Vasanthakumar
et al. (132) recorded a non-significant alteration in
intestinal length of carcasses of broilers supplemented
with ashwagandha as compared to the control birds; the
observed intestinal lengths were 183.75, 213.50, and 221.33 cm
in birds fed with control, ashwagandha root powder at
1% of feed, and ashwagandha root extract at 0.15% of
feed, respectively.
The impact of W. somnifera on broiler meat quality is
represented in Figure 4. The addition of ashwagandha to
the basal feed of broilers significantly affects the sensory
qualities of broiler meat. Meat from the broilers fed herbal
feed additive containing W. somnifera was reported to
be superior to the control with respect to all attributes,
including flavor (6.72 and 5.90 for supplemented and control
groups, respectively), appearance (7.32 and 6.5), tenderness
(7.13 and 6.14), juiciness (7.30 and 7.01), stickiness to
mouth (7.24 and 6.11), and overall acceptability (7.5 and
6.03) (119).
Another sensory evaluation of broiler meat revealed
significant increases in organoleptic traits of broiler meat, i.e.,
appearance (6.10 and 6.48 for control and treated groups,
respectively), odor (5.8 and 6.81), color (6 and 6.81), flavor
(5.66 and 6.5), juiciness (6.1 and 6.83), texture (6 and
6.8), and overall palatability (6 and 6.6), in groups treated
with plant products AV/LAP/19 including ashwagandha,
compared with the control group (117). Improved tenderness
with palatability was attributed to increases in collagen
and myofibrillar solubility of meat due to AV/LAP/19
supplementation (117). The oxidative stability of broiler
meat expressed in terms of thiobarbiturate acid (TBA) level
displayed significantly lower values in the AV/LAP/19-
treated group at the end of the 15th, 30th, 45th, and 60th
storage days (0.33, 0.35, 0.42, and 0.54 mg malonaldehyde/kg,
respectively) in comparison with those of the control group
(0.31, 0.39, 0.50, 0.60, and 0.66 mg malonaldehyde/kg,
respectively) (117).
In addition, a reduced level of tyrosine in broiler meat,
which is indicative of less proteolysis, was recorded upon
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Impacts of Withania somnifera supplementation on economic eciency of broilers.
supplementation of AV/LAP/19 plant product. Thus, the
reduced TBA and tyrosine level of broiler meat reported in
the AV/LAP/19-treated group was found to improve the shelf
life of frozen raw meat (117). Inclusion of the W. somnifera
at 100 or 200 mg/kg in the diet of the broilers negated the
negative impacts of oxidized oil by reducing the MDA content
in thigh meat and increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes,
thereby improving the performance, immune reaction, and
meat oxidative stability of broilers exposed to oxidative stress
W. somnifera immune modulation
Manoharan et al. (53) reported an elevated antibody titer
following consumption of W. somnifera extract in various
avian models. W. somnifera extract at 10, 20, and 30 g L1
effectively improved the antibody titer against infectious bursal
disease (IBD) (116). The immunoglobulin concentrations were
higher in 1.5% ashwagandha-fed Japanese quail compared
with the control birds (134). The immune status of broilers
as expressed by antibody titer values (log2) was enhanced
in 1% ashwagandha root powder-treated (7.3) and 0.15%
ashwagandha extract-treated (7.0) groups as compared to the
control birds (6.6) (132). In addition, 1% ashwagandha root
powder-raised broilers exhibited better immunity compared
with the control birds (139), and humoral immunity of broilers
was improved with ashwagandha root powder supplementation
(159). In broiler during summer stress, total immunoglobulin
was elevated following 0.01% W. somnifera supplementation
(3.83) as compared to the control (2.79) (133). Okonkwo
et al. (160) concluded that a high antibody titer could be
obtained in broiler groups raised on herbal preparations
including ashwagandha.
Impact of W. somnifera on broiler
The impact of W. somnifera addition on economic efficiency
of broilers is expressed in Figure 5.
Pedhavi et al. (161) reported a better net return upon
treatment with a 20% root extract of W. somnifera in broilers.
The improved net return was also reported by Javed et al.
(158) following combined treatment with W. somnifera and
Berberis lycium compared with their individual outcomes,
which could be attributed to efficient feed utilization by the
broiler chickens at 10% extract of the tested herbs. Ansari
et al. (135) performed economic evaluation and showed a
maximum profit per bird in W. somnifera root powder-raised
broiler chickens (Rs. 21.44) compared with broilers fed with
Nigella sativa (Rs. 20.60), Azadirachta indica (Rs. 20.38), or
control birds.
In another study, net return was highest in the
ashwagandha-treated group (Rs. 48.48), followed by synthetic
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growth promoters (Rs. 47.92) and then control birds (Rs.
47.34) (118). Mane et al. (162) also noted a higher net profit
per bird in broilers fed with ashwagandha. In contrast,
Kale et al. (163) reported less net profit per bird fed with
ashwagandha (Rs. 15.60) compared with the control (Rs.
16.55); however, gross return was significantly higher in
0.25% ashwagandha-treated broiler chickens (Rs. 110.10)
compared with the control group (Rs. 107.58). A higher
cost of production observed for probiotic-supplemented (Rs.
141.8) and ashwagandha-supplemented (Rs. 134.7) groups as
compared to the control group (Rs. 128.3) was due to the extra
cost incurred on the usage of ashwagandha root powder and
probiotics (130).
Withania somnifera is rich in valuable active components
such as alkaloids and withanolides that act as free-radical
scavengers, increase antioxidant capacity, stimulate the secretion
of endogenous digestive enzymes, increase nutrient digestibility,
improve blood parameters, enhance immunity, mitigate the
negative impacts of stress, and alleviate the impact of diseases.
Therefore, incorporation of W. somnifera, especially at a level
of 2.5 g kg1feed in poultry ration or 20 ml l1in the
drinking water, improves the livability, productivity, carcass
traits, meat quality, disease resistance, blood parameters, and
immunological status of the treated bird. Further, investigations
should be adopted to determine the mechanism of action
of potential active components of W. somnifera extracts
and suggest the ideal dose and application method of these
ingredients to obtain maximum beneficial effects.
Author contributions
All authors contributed equally to this review and have read
and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
KE-T thanks the library at Murdoch University, Australia
for the valuable online resources and comprehensive databases.
The authors would like also to thank the Fundação de Am-
paro à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) Brazil—
Grant Number (E-26/200.891/2021), and the Conselho Nacional
de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq)—Grant
Number (313119/2020-1) for the financial support.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the
absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could
be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Publisher’s note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the
authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated
organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the
reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or
claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed
or endorsed by the publisher.
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