Can Broccoli Sprouts Help Treat Autism?
There is a new debate about treating autism, and it involves a familiar vegetable. Experts and families are wondering if broccoli sprouts can help the condition. A small study, titled “Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder,” found that a chemical from broccoli sprouts helped improve autism symptoms.
The study included a placebo-controlled trial, but one of the issues is that only 29 people with autism received the treatment. Critics believe the sample size is too small, so more research is needed before families and caretakers start piling broccoli sprouts on their dinner plates every night. However, the study gives hope that a chemical from a common vegetable could one day help treat the condition.
Sulforaphane is the chemical that was derived from the broccoli sprouts in the study and given to patients in capsule form. Researchers found that 42 percent of the people who received the treatment had better verbal communication. In addition, 46 percent of the people who received the treatment had better social interactions. Furthermore, researchers noted that they were less hyperactive and less irritable. On the other hand, the patients who received the placebo did not show any improvements.
There is one part of the study that some have found disturbing. Once treatment with sulforaphane stopped, the improvements researchers noted disappeared. The progress made with the chemical did not last. It appears that ongoing treatments are required, but more studies will be necessary to understand this.
Researchers point out that the extracted sulforaphane from the broccoli sprouts was at a very high dosage that cannot be replicated at the dinner table. Unfortunately, adding huge amounts of broccoli to a patient’s diet may not be enough because the concentration of sulforaphane is limited. In addition, seizures and liver enzyme problems appeared in a few cases during the study. Experts recommend using diet caution.