NaturalNews) A powerful anti-cancer nutrient found naturally in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower could help significantly improve health outcomes in autistic men and boys. Research published in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that sulforaphane, an antioxidant compound, is capable of reversing many of the most common symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that there are no medications currently on the market that can treat or cure ASD, a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind pilot study suggests otherwise. Present most richly in broccoli sprouts, sulforaphane has been shown to help drastically improve social interactions and verbal communication in ASD-diagnosed men and boys as well as reduce hyperactivity, irritability and other ASD symptoms.
Conducted on 44 males aged 13 to 27, the study found that after 18 weeks of consuming sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extract, more than half of the men saw significant health improvements. Behavioral abnormalities also decreased significantly as a result of the treatment, as did lipid peroxidation and neuroinflammation. These same men also saw improvements in antioxidant capacity, glutathione synthesis, mitrochondrial function and oxidative phosphorylation.
"Sulforaphane, which showed negligible toxicity, was selected because it upregulates genes that protect aerobic cells against oxidative stress, inflammation, and DNA-damage, all of which are prominent and possibly mechanistic characteristics of ASD," the authors wrote.
Sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts regulates cellular health, energy production and detoxification
Depending on their individual weights, the men and boys were assigned to take either 232 mg (for those who weighed 100 pounds or less), 464 mg (101 to 199 pounds), or 696 mg (more than 200 pounds) of sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract daily. Such amounts are difficult to obtain from eating broccoli sprouts whole, but many supplement manufacturers offer capsules containing concentrated extract levels in this range or even higher.
This is good news for parents who are trying to help their autistic children achieve a better quality of life naturally. Sulphorane is an antioxidant nutrient with no negative side effects, meaning it can only help an ASD-afflicted child. Likewise, whole broccoli sprouts are a "superfood," not a drug, so parents do not have to worry that it will harm their children in any way.
As an added benefit, sulforaphane might also help ameliorate a number of other genetic disorders by activating the body's "stress proteome." The stress proteome is responsible for regulating processes such as glutathione synthesis, mitochondrial function (cellular health), and neurological inflammation.
"[Sulforaphane] happens to be one of the most extensively studied and promising natural substances in existence," writes Sayer Ji for GreenMedInfo.
When ASD patients stopped taking sulforaphane, their symptoms returned
In order for sulforaphane to work, however, ASD patients need to continue taking it. At the 22-week reassessment, which took place one month after study participants ceased taking the broccoli sprout extract, most (but not all) of their improvements had waned or disappeared. The researchers involved say this change only reinforces their finding that sulforaphane was directly responsible for the positive improvements observed throughout the study.
"When we broke the code that revealed who was receiving sulforaphane and who got the placebo, the results weren't surprising to us, since the improvements were so noticeable," stated Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, M.D., one of the study's authors and a physician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC).
"The improvements seen on the Social Responsiveness Scale were particularly remarkable, and I've been told this is the first time that any statistically significant improvement on the SRS has been seen for a drug study in autism spectrum disorder," he added, noting that the consensus among the research team was that sulforaphane likely activates the Nrf2 pathway, reducing inflammation in the brain and promoting increased antioxidant protection.