Our old friend sulforaphane (found in cruciferous vegetables) is back in the news again. This time it has been used to help treat young males with autism spectrum disorder.
So why did the researchers think it could have an effect? They state a few reasons in their paper: the fact that sulforaphane has been demonstrated to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, that it seems to be able to activate the “stress proteome” that can return cells to a balance or homostasis, and that there is anecdotal reports that fever can reduce some of the disturbed behaviour in autistic patients (fever and sulforaphane both upregulate heat shock proteins).
The young men in the study who were given sulforaphane for 18 weeks showed improvements in a number of ways, including reduced irritability and lethargy, and improvements in awareness, communication and motivation. These improvements were seen from 4 weeks on. After the end of the treatment they were monitored for a further 4 weeks and they started to revert to how they were at the beginning of the trial.
This was a small trial and much more work needs to be carried out, but I think the results are impressive.
Click here to read the paper on the PNAS website.
See some of our past blogs about sulforphane (Super broc, Is it a bird, is it a plane?, Broccoli sprouts stop type II diabetes getting complicated, Freezing is broccoli’s kryptonite)