Gong, J., Yin, F., Hou, Y. and Yin, Y. 2014. Chinese herbs as alternatives to antibiotics in feed for swine and poultry production: Potential and challenges in application. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 94: 223-241. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a long history of clinical practice, and its own theoretical framework focused on functions at the whole-body level. However, due to cultural differences, TCM has not been fully recognized in Western countries. With the recent development of the theory of whole-body systems biology and “-omics”, there is a new opportunity to study TCM and to close the gap between TCM and Western medicine, because of the similarity in the theoretical foundations between TCM and whole-body systems biology. The uniqueness of TCM theory and practice is the approach to maintain and restore the body balance as a whole with no or little unfavourable side effects. Recent studies have also shown that Chinese herbs used as feed additives can modulate nutritional metabolism, immune responses, and intestinal health of food-producing animals, demonstrating good potential as substitutes for dietary antibiotics. Nonetheless, some issues need to be addressed before Chinese herbs can reach their full application. This article has critically reviewed recent progresses in scientific research of Chinese herbs as feed additives and their potential to replace dietary antibiotics. Possible challenges in future application for swine and poultry production are also discussed.
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Vol. 94 • No. 2