The use of humic acids as household remidies in the form of peat moss bedding for livestock has globally a long tradition. The succesfull therapeutical and prophylactical application of lignite based humic acids especially for the treatment of diarrheal diseases of domestic and farm animals already takes place for more than 40 years.
Particularly the antiinflammatory, antiresorptive, as well as antibacterial and virucidal properties of the humic acids should be emphasized. So humic acids can reduce the resorption of toxic by-products from metabolism after infections, at contaminated feed or at feed changes. Humic acids can bind E. coli bacteria and and neutralize endotoxines.
Bacterias and toxines bound to humic acids are afterwards excreted with the feces. Also heavy metals and many organic pollutants can be adsorbed very well by humic acids.
Compared to active coal the adsorption occurs not only physically but also by chemical reactions like complexation and ion exhchange.
Furthermore humic acids can cause ergotropic effects with regard to increased weight gains and an improved utilization of feed ingredients, which in their dimension are compared to classical antimicrobial growth promoters by several scientists.
Observed Effects of Humic Acids on Animals
Covering mucous membrane and adstringent effects
Humic acids are able to form a protective film on the mucuous epithel of the gastro-intestinal tract against infections and toxins. The macrocolloidal structure of humic acids ensures a good shielding on the mucous membrane of the stomach and gut, the peripheral capillaries and damaged mucous cells. As a result of this process, the resorption of toxic metabolites is reduced or fully prevented, especially after infections, in case of residues of harmful substances in animal feed or when it is switched to new feeds. Furthermore, humic acids also help to prevent excessive loss of water via the intestine.
Antibacterial and virucidal effects
Humic acids have the ability to influence in particular the metabolism of proteins and carbonhydrates of microbes by catalytic means. This leads to a direct devastating effect against bacteria cells or virus particles. A second mechanism is related to the interionic bonds of high-molecular protein fractions (toxins) of infectious microbes. Their toxic impact on physiological processes of mucous membrane cells can be weakened considerably or even blocked completely.
Dermal, oral or subcutaneous application of humic acids leads to inhibitory effects on inflammation. The ability to inhibit inflammation is believed to be related with the flavonoid groups contained in humic acids.
Antiresorptive and adsorptive effects
As high-molecular humic acids remain in the gastro-intestinal tract almost entirely following the enteral application (there is no self-resorption), antiresorptive and adsorptive effects take place where they are needed: in the digestive tract. Primarily cationoid noxes (protein toxins, toxic substances) are fixed, their resorption is reduced considerably or even prevented completely and their elimination through faeces is promoted.As adsorption by humic acids includes not only physical and chemical reactions, but also complex-formation and ion-exchange, it is more intensive and dynamic compared to pure physical adsorbents.
Effects on the immune system
Humic acids stimulate the resistance forces of the body and lead to an increase in the phagocytosis activity. The inducer effect of phenolic components (groups) of humic acids is believed to be responsible for the immunological effects and is the basis for the success of the treatment of the so-called factor diseases in young animals.
Humic acids stabilize the intestinal flora and thus ensures an improved utilization of nutrients in animal feed (improved feed efficiency). This leads to an increase in liveweight of the animal without increasing the amount of feed given to the animal.
Humic acids are purely natural
The use of humic acids in animal feed excludes any possibility of antibiotic residue or microbial resistance. Simultaneously, as a result of a higher food conversion rate and enhanced absorption of nitrogen by the animal, nitrogenous wastes and odour are reduced.