Autism: what if the secret of tomorrow’s treatment came from broccoli?

Broccoli is really a vegetable like no other! The active ingredient in broccoli, sulforaphane, is recognized as a plant molecule that has a very strong beneficial effect on health. Until autism according to a study published in the journal of the American Academy of Sciences.

A myriad of studies have already clearly established that cruciferous vegetables (cabbage family) are among the most important plants for cancer prevention. This property stems from their high content of glucosinolates, a group of molecules that are transformed into isothiocyanates (ITCs) as a result of chewing them. ITCs are very reactive compounds, which modulate several phenomena involved in the formation and progression of cancer cells, and it is for this reason that the regular consumption of crucifers is associated with a marked reduction in the risk of several types of cancers. Sulforaphane is one of the ITCs that has received the most attention in recent years. Mainly found in broccoli, this molecule has the property of eliminating carcinogens and stimulating the body’s natural defenses against oxidative stress, inflammation, DNA damage and stress caused by high temperatures ( a fever, for example). Sulforaphane is also able to directly kill cancer cells of the prostate, breast, ovary, colon and pancreas, illustrating how essential this molecule is for the prevention of cancer. Other publications indicate that sulforaphane also exerts unexpected positive effects in autistic children.

Autism: Symptoms diminished after sulforaphane administration

A team of American researchers recently came up with the idea of ​​testing whether sulforaphane could also exert a positive effect on the symptoms that affect children with autism. This hypothesis is based on the observation that a large number of these children see their condition improve considerably when they are affected by a fever: as sulforaphane and the fever activate the same defense system against the stress imposed by the high temperatures, it is therefore possible that the broccoli molecule may also cause an alleviation of the symptoms of these children.

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And that’s exactly what the scientists observed: daily administration of sulforaphane to young men with autism for 18 weeks was associated with a notable improvement in symptoms, including better social interactivity, a decrease in atypical behaviors and an improvement of verbal communication. Not all of these effects are seen in placebo-treated patients and they disappear completely after discontinuation of treatment, suggesting that they are directly caused by sulforaphane ingestion.

Autism: good chances that the treatment of the future will go through broccoli

According to the authors, it’s too early to estimate how much broccoli a person should eat to get these benefits. There are considerable variations in sulforaphane content depending on the type of broccoli and the method of cooking, not to mention that each person metabolizes the molecule differently. But anyway, it is a major discovery that could allow the development of new drugs for the treatment of this disease.

Sulforaphane could therefore represent a very interesting avenue for the development of treatments against this disease.


Singh K et al. Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 111:15550-5.


* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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