A recent clinical trial has shown that one vegetable extract may have astounding positive effects on those with autism – broccoli extract.
The US Centers for Disease Control tells the world that there is no treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). But now that one in every 68 children is showing symptoms of the disorder (a huge spike since the year 2000), you would think that a clinical trial involving a simple, natural food-based supplement would be front page news. This, however, is not the world we live in, so you likely haven’t heard about a possible solution for autism that doesn’t rely on pharmaceutical medication – until now.
Along with an extensive Autism Spectrum Disease research database at GMI, there is evidence suggesting that broccoli extract (along with avoiding heavy metals, minimizing glyphosate exposure, and eradicating the diet of gluten) shows promise in improving ASD.
The active ingredient in broccoli that seems to help is called sulforaphane, a molecule found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
A groundbreaking study published in 2014 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA titled, “Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” found that a broccoli sprout extract significantly improved the behavior of boys and men (those who most often suffer from autism). Sulforaphane was selected, in part, because its physiological effects are well characterized and ideal for those with ASD:
“Dietary sulforaphane, of recognized low toxicity, was selected for its capacity to reverse abnormalities that have been associated with ASD, including oxidative stress and lower antioxidant capacity, depressed glutathione synthesis, reduced mitochondrial function and oxidative phosphorylation, increased lipid peroxidation, and neuroinflammmation.”
The placebo-controlled, randomized pilot study of 44 males, ages 13-27, showed that after 18 weeks of treatment with a sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extract, 46% had noticeable improvements in social interactions and 42% has improvements in verbal communication. More than half of all participants also showed a decrease in irritability, hyperactivity, and repetitive movements.
Of note, once treatment with broccoli extract stopped, most of the behaviors associated with autism returned. For more details on the study, read a Medscape report, including an interview with the study’s lead researcher.
The dosing schedule was determined by body weight:
- 100 lbs or less: one capsule containing 50 µmol (232 mg) of sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract was given daily
- 101–199 lbs, 100 µmol (two capsules of 232 mg each) of sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract was given daily
- More than 200 lbs: 150 µmol (three capsules of 232 mg each) of sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract was given daily
Sulforaphane happens to be one of the most extensively studied and promising natural substances in existence.
Consider that sulforaphane concentrations are several hundred times higher in the broccoli sprouts versus mature broccoli. This may very well be why the extract is therapeutic.