Can broccoli curb symptoms of autism?

By Matt Bernard

Can broccoli curb symptoms of autism?
Researchers have found that broccoli could bring us a step closer to treating autism.

While as a child it was the vegetable some of us feared most, the humble broccoli is making news headlines for all the right reasons.

A chemical found in the green vegetable, more specifically in broccoli sprouts, has surprised scientists with its capability to perhaps curb symptoms of autism.

Dr. Paul Talalay, professor of pharmacology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, described these early findings of the study as “intriguing”.

Talalay and his research team treated 40 people with autism over a period of 18 weeks. Of these participants, 20 took sulforaphane (the chemical found in broccoli sprouts) and the other 20 were given a placebo.

Half of those who took the sulforaphane found their levels of social interaction and verbal communication had noticeably improved.

When consumption of this chemical ended, patients reported their social skills to return to their initial levels within four weeks

Patients given placebos showed no improvement over the 18-week period.

Autism experts, similar to professor Talalay, find such results intriguing. However they agree that these results still leave many questions to be asked.

“The trial needs to be replicated and evaluated in larger and more age-diverse samples… but the data is certainly worth pushing,” told Dr. Susan Hyman of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, around 1 in every 88 children in the US are affected by autism spectrum disorder.


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