Skip to main content Accessibility help

Anti-aflatoxin activities of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) in broiler

  • I.A. ALHIDARY (a1), Z. REHMAN (a2), R.U. KHAN (a2) and M. TAHIR (a2)


Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites of structurally diverse groups occurring worldwide as contaminants of cereals such as wheat, corn, maize, peanut, and barley, which comprise the main ingredients of poultry diets. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has wide range of beneficial properties, including data showing its positive effects in protecting the liver of birds exposed to aflatoxins. Trials have shown that in broilers affected by aflatoxicosis, which adversely affected feed intake, weight gain, feed efficiency, serum biochemistry and immune status, supplementation of diets with silymarin reduced the detrimental effects, thereby improving the productivity and health. Although promising results have been reported, established doses and further research on the standardisation of this herb will increase its uses as alternative to synthetic drugs. The following review discusses several important aspects of the beneficial properties of milk thistle on poultry growth performance in experimentally induced aflatoxicosis.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author:


Hide All
ABOU-SHEHEMA, B.M., RAWIA, S.H, KHALIFAH, M.M. and ABDALLA, A.A. (2016) Effect of silymarin supplementation on the performance of developed chickens under summer condition 2-during laying period. Egyptian Poultry Science 36: 1233-1249.
ABUDABOS, A.M., ALYEMNI, A.H., DAFALLA, Y.M. and KHAN, R.U. (2017) Effect of organic acid blend and Bacillus subtilis alone or in combination on growth traits, blood biochemical and antioxidant status in broiler exposed to Salmonella typhimurium challenge during the starter phase. Journal of Applied Animal Research 45: 538-542.
AHSAN, S., BHATTI, I.A., ASI, M.R., BHATTI, H.N. and SHEIKH, M.A. (2010) Occurrence of aflatoxins in maize grains from central areas of Punjab. International Journal of Agriculture and Biology 12: 571-575.
ALZAWQARI, M.H., AL-BADDANY, A.A., AL-BAADANI, H.H., ALHIDARY, I.A., KHAN, R.U., AQIL, G.M. and ABDURAB, A. (2016) Effect of feeding dried sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) peel and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) leaves on growth performance, carcass traits, serum metabolites and antioxidant status in broiler during the finisher phase. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 23: 17077-17082.
ARAFA, A.S., BLOOMER, R.J., WILSON, H.R., SIMPSON, C.F. and HARMS, R.H. (1981) Susceptibility of various poultry species to dietary aflatoxin. British Poultry Science 22: 431-436.
ASIM, A., KHAN, K.N.M., CHEEMA, A.H., MIR, F.A. and AFZAL, M. (1990) Occurrence of aflatoxins in poultry liver and associated pathological changes. Pakistan Veterinary Journal 10: 51-54.
AMIRIDUMARI, H., SARIR, H., AFZALI, N. and FANIMAKKI, O. (2013) Effects of milk thistle seed against aflatoxin B1 in broiler model. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences 18:786-790.
BASAGA, H., POLI, G., TEKKAYA, C. and ARAS, I. (1997) Free radical scavenging and antioxidative properties of ‘silibin’ complexes on microsomal lipid per oxidation. Cell Biochemistry and Function 15: 27-33.
BAER-DUBOWSKA, W., SZAEFER, H. and KRAJKA-KUZNIAK, V. (1998) Inhibition of murine hepatic cytochrome P450 activities by natural and synthetic phenolic compounds. Xenobiotica 28: 735-743.
CHAND, N., DIN, M., DURRANI, F.R. and SAHIBZADA, S. (2011) Protective Effects of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) against Aflatoxin B1 in Broiler Chicks. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 24: 1011-1018.
CHAKARVERTY, A. and PARSAD, J. (1991) Study on the effect of Milk Thistle extract on the performance of broiler chicks. Indian Poultry Advise 24: 37-38.
CHAND, N., MUHAMMAD, S., KHAN, R.U., ALHIDARY, I.A. and RAHMAN, Z.U. (2016) Ameliorative effect of synthetic γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) on performance traits, antioxidant status and immune response in broiler exposed to cyclic heat stress. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 23: 23930-23935.
CHU, F.S. (1991) Mycotoxins Food contamination, mechanism, carcinogenic potential and preventive measures. Mutation Research 259: 291-306.
DENLI, M. and OKAN, F. (2006) Efficacy of different adsorbents in reducing the toxic effects of aflatoxin B1 in broiler diets. South African Journal of Animal Science 36: 222-228
DUMARI, M.A., SARIR, H., MAKKI, O.F. and AFZALI, N. (2014) Effect of milk thistle (Silybum marianumL.) on biochemical parameters and immunity of broiler chicks fed Aflatoxin B1 after three weeks. Iranian Journal of Toxicology 8: 1098-1103.
ELLIS, W.O., SMITH, J.P., SIMPSON, B.K. and OLDHAM, J.H. (1991) Aflatoxin in food: Occurrence, biosynthesis, effects on organisms, detection and methods of control. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 30: 403-439.
FAULSTICH, H., JAHN, W. and WIELAND, T. (1980) Silybin inhibition of amatoxin uptake in Ne perfuse rat liver. Drug Research 30 3: 452-454.
FRASCHINI, F., DEMARTINI, G. and ESPOSTI, D. (2002) Pharmacology of silymarin. Clinical Drug Investigation 22: 51-65.
GAZAK, R., WALTEROVA, D. and KREN, V. (2007) Silybin and Silymarin-New and emerging applications in medicine. Current Medicinal Chemistry 14: 1-24.
GOWDA, S.K. and SASTRY, V.R.B. (2000) Neem (Azadirachta indica) seed cake in animal feeding-scope and limitation- Review. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 13: 720-728.
HUSSAIN, Z., KHAN, M.Z. and HASSAN, Z.U. (2008) Production of aflatoxins from aspergillus flavus and acute aflatoxicosis in young broiler chicks. Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Sciences 45: 95-102.
HUSSEIN, H.S. and BRASEL, J.M. (2001) Toxicity, metabolism, and impact of mycotoxins on humans and animals. Toxicology 167:101-34.
INDRESH, H., DEVEGOWDA, G., RUBAN, S.W. and SHIVAKUMAR, M.C. (2013) Effects of high grade bentonite on performance, organ weights and serum biochemistry during aflatoxicosis in broilers. Veterinary World 6: 313-317.
JAHANIAN, E., MAHDAVI, A.H., ASGARY, S. and JAHANIAN, R. (2017) Effects of dietary inclusion of silymarin on performance, intestinal morphology and ileal bacterial count in aflatoxin-challenged broiler chicks. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition: DOI: 10.1111/jpn.12556.
KALOREY, D.R., KURKURE, N.V., RAMGAONKAR, I.S., SAKHARE, P.S., WARKE, S. and NIGOT, N.K. (2005) Effect of polyherbal feed supplement “Growell” during induced aflatoxicosis, ochratoxicosis and combined mycotoxicoses in broilers. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 18: 375-383.
KECECI, T., OGUZ, H., KURTOGLU, V. and DEMET, O. (1998) Effects of polyvinylpolypyrrolidone, synthetic zeolite, and bentonite on serum biochemical and hematological characters of broiler chickens during aflatoxicosis. British Poultry Science 39: 452-458.
KOSINA, P., KREN, V., GEBHARDT, R., GRAMBAL, F., ULRICHOVA, J. and WALTEROVA, D. (2002) Antioxidant properties of silybin glycosides. Phytotherapy Research 16: S33-S39.
LUDOVICO, A., CAPASSO, R., MILIC, N. and CAPASSO, F. (2010) Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytotherapy Research 24: 1423-1432.
MADHESWARAN, R., BALACHANDRAN, C. and MURALI MANOHAR, B. (2004) Influence of dietary culture material containing aflatoxin and T (2) toxin on certain serum biochemical constituents in Japanese quail. Mycopathologia 158: 337-341.
MALEKINEJAD, P., AFZALI, N., MOHAMMADI, A. and SARIR, H. (2015) Protective effects of milk thistle (silybum marianum) seeds and sodium bentonite in ameliorating the toxic effects of aflatoxin b1 in broiler chicks. Archives of Medical Laboratory Sciences 1: 67-73.
MATUR, E., ERGUL, E., AKYAZI, I., ERASLAN, E. and CIRAKLI, Z.T. (2010) The effects of Saccharomyces cerevisiae extract on the weight of some organs, liver, and pancreatic digestive enzyme activity in breeder hens fed diets contaminated with aflatoxins. Poultry Science 89: 2213-2220.
MIGUEZ, M.P., ANUNDI, I., SAINZ-PARDO, L.A. and LINDROS, K.O. (1994) Hepatoprotective mechanism of silymarin; no evidence for involvement of cytochrome P450 2E1. Chemico-Biological Interactions 91: 51-63.
MOROVAT, M., CHAMANI, M., ZAREI, A. and SADEGHI, A.A. (2016) Dietary but not in ovo feeding of Silybum marianum extract resulted in an improvement in performance, immunity and carcass characteristics and decreased the adverse effects of high temperatures in broilers, British Poultry Science 57: 105-113.
MUHAMMAD, D., CHAND, N., KHAN, S., SULTAN, A., MUSHTAQ, M. and RAFIULLAH, (2012) Hepatoprotective role of milk thistle (Silybum Marianum) in meat type chicken fed aflatoxin B1 contaminated feed. Pakistan Veterinary Journal 32: 443-446.
MURIEL, P. and MOURELLE, M. (1990) Prevention by silymarin of membrane alterations in acute CCL4 liver damage. Journal of Applied Toxicology 10: 275-279.
MUNTER, K., MAYER, D. and FAULSTICH, H. (1986) Characterisation of a transporting system in rat hepatocytes: studies with competitive and non-competitive inhibitors of phalloidin transport. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 860: 91-98.
OGUZ, H., KECECI, T., BIRDANE, Y.O., ONDER, F. and KURTOGLU, V. (2000) Effect of clinoptilolite on serum biochemical and hematological characters of broiler chickens during experimental aflatoxicosis. Research in Veterinary Science 69: 89-93.
OMID, F.M., OMID, A., AFZALI, N., SARI, H., FROUZANMEHR, M. and SHIBAK, A. (2014) Efficacy of silybum marianum seeds in ameliorating the toxic effects of aflatoxin B1 in broilers. Iranian Journal of Toxicology 8: 977-982.
OMID, F.M., AFZALI, N. and OMIDI, A. (2013) Effect of different levels of Silymarin (Silybum marianum) on growth rate, carcass variables and liver morphology of broiler chickens contaminated with aflatoxin B1. Poultry Science Journal 1: 105-116.
PIVA, G., GALVANO, F., PIETRI, A. and PIVA, A. (1995) Detoxification methods of aflatoxins. A review. Nutrition Research 15: 767-776.
PRADHAN, S.C. and GIRISH, C. (2006) Hepato protective herbal drug, silymarin from experimental pharmacology to clinical medicine. Indian Journal of Medical Research 124: 491-504.
SABRI, M.A., SIDDIQUE, M., KHAN, M.Z. and SAMAD, H.A. (1989) Prevalence and pathology of mycotoxicosis in young broiler chicks in and around Faisalabad. Pakistan Veterinary Journal 9: 106-108.
SALIOU, C., RIHN, B., CILLARD, J., OKAMOTO, T. and PACKER, L. (1998) Selective inhibition of NF-κB activation by the flavonoid hepatoprotector silymarin in HepG2. FEBS Letters 440: 8-12.
SALLER, R., MEIER, R. and BRIGNOLI, R. (2001) The use silymarin in the treatment of liver diseases. Drugs 61: 2035-2063.
SANTURIO, J.M., MALLMANN, C.A., ROSA, A.P., APPEL, G., HEER, A. and DAGEFÖRDE, S. (1999) Effect of sodium bentonite on the performance and blood variables of broiler chickens intoxicated with aflatoxin. British Poultry Science 40:115-119.
SONNENBICHLER, J. and ZETL, I. (1986) Biochemical effects of the flavonolignane silibinin on RNA, protein and DNA synthesis in rat livers. Progress in Clinical and Biological Research 213: 319-331.
SURAI, P.F. (2015) Silymarin as a natural antioxidant: an overview of the current evidence and perspectives. Antioxidants 4: 204-247.
THYAGARAJAN, S., JAYARAM, S., GOPALAKRISHNAN, V., HARI, R., JEYAKUMAR, P. and SRIPATHI, M. (2002) Herbal medicines for liver diseases in India. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 17: S370-S376.
TEDESCO, D., DOMENEGHINI, C., SCIANNIMANICO, D., TAMENI, M., STEIDLER, S. and GALLETTI, S. (2004) Efficacy of silymarin phospholipid complex in reducing the toxicity of aflatoxin B1 in broiler chicks. Poultry Science 83: 1839-1843.
WISEMANN, H. (1996) dietary influences on membrane function: Importance in protection against oxidative damage and disease. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 7: 2-5.
WILASRUSMEE, C., KITTUR, S., SHAH, G., SIDDIQUI, J., BRUCH, D., WILASRUSMEE, S. and KITTUR, D.S. (2002) Immunostimulatory effect of Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) extract. Medical Science Monitor 8: 439-443.
YUNUS, A.W., RAZZAZI-FAZELI, E. and BOHM, J. (2011) Aflatoxin B1 in affecting broiler's performance, immunity, and gastrointestinal tract: A review of history and contemporary issues. Toxins 3: 566-590.
YUNUS, A., NASIR, M., FAROOQ, U. and BÖHM, J. (2008) Prevalence of poultry diseases and their interaction with mycotoxicosis in district Chakwal: 1. Effects of age and flock size. Journa of Animal and Plant Sciences 18: 107-113.
ZAHID, R. and DURRANI, F.R. (2007) Biochemical, hematological, immunological and growth promotant role of feed added Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) in broiler chicks. M.Sc (Hons) thesis submitted to NWFP Agric. Univ. Peshawar, Pakistan.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed