Evidence That Sulforaphane from Broccoli Sprouts can be Used to Treat Autism

The rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder in children is increasing, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding that one in every 59 children are born with the condition each year [1]. Compare this to a rate of one in every 125 children a decade ago, and it is clear that there is much work to be done on the treatment of this developmental disability.

The problem is not just limited to those children who are diagnosed at birth. It is estimated that 1% of the total world population – more than 75 million people – currently live with Autism.

While the CDC states that there are no medications that can either cure or treat core symptoms of Autism [2], researchers around the world are discovering new methods that are slowly beginning to enter the mainstream. The use of broccoli sprouts, otherwise known as microgreens, is one of the most promising treatments in existence today.

How a Simple Broccoli Sprout Could be the Key to Autism Treatment

Broccoli sprouts and microgreens are continuing to enter the wider public consciousness, due to an increasing body of research that supports the use of sprouts to treat everything from high blood pressure to various forms of cancer.

Broccoli microgreens are the most potent natural source of sulforaphane known to man. Sulforaphane is a compound that cruciferous vegetables produce when they are chopped, chewed, blended, and crushed.

Sulforaphane has an anti-inflammatory mechanism and it can positively impact blood glucose and insulin sensitivity. It reduces cancer tumor size, can stop growth, and in some cases reverse cancer in laboratory conditions. It can also support liver and kidney health.

New uses for sulforaphane are regularly discovered, and while science doesn’t know all that there is to know about this incredibly potent compound, there is exciting new research emerging for the natural treatment of Autism.

If the sulforaphane that is naturally abundant in broccoli microgreens can help to treat Autism and reduce symptoms, then parents of Autistic children, and adult sufferers, could finally have an effective method to supplement behavioral and communication approaches to treatment as well as various forms of therapy.

Studies Supportive of Broccoli Microgreens to Treat Autism

There are many areas of alternative medicine where the efficacy of a specific treatment is supported by little evidence. With a condition as serious as Autism, it’s essential to find treatments that have true scientific backing and plenty of data to support their use.

Sulforaphane sourced from broccoli microgreens is currently one of the most researched natural compounds, and there are already some noteworthy studies to support its interaction and ability to treat Autism.

One double-blind study from the peer-reviewed Global Advances in Health and Medicine [3] found that supplementation with sulforaphane led to improved social responsiveness and communication. The study also found that some of the more socially disruptive symptoms of Autism, such as irritability and motor stereotypies, became less frequent.

"Improvements were seen within four weeks and generally persisted during treatment duration."


This study focused on 26 subjects in different families, and almost half of the families either wanted to continue with sulforaphane treatment or learn more about the treatment after the end of the study. Researchers also noted that anecdotal evidence outside of the study, from families who had trialed sulforaphane independently, was also positive.

While further research is still needed, another study found that broccoli microgreens and sulforaphane are ideal to treat Autism because of four key properties [4]:

  • Sulforaphane counteracts some biochemical abnormalities that are associated with Autism. Examples include neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. Sulforaphane is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.
  • The sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts can correct the conditions that lead to genetic disorders closely related to Autism.
  • Temporary fever is known to reduce symptoms of Autism [5]. Sulforaphane can mimic fever-response conditions in the body without adverse effects on patients.
  • Sulforaphane has no harmful level of toxicity, even in very high doses.

The same study that published the four key properties of sulforaphane found that aberrant behavior and social responsiveness scores were consistently improved in subjects when using sulforaphane, while a placebo group showed little to no improvement. Participants in the study were all male and aged between 13 and 27, putting them outside of the initial developmental stage. This indicates that sulforaphane can provide supportive treatment and measurable improvements well into adulthood.

Dr. Paul Talalay, a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences involved in the study, said that “we believe that this may be preliminary evidence for the first treatment for Autism that improves symptoms by apparently correcting some of the underlying cellular problems.” Andrew Zimmerman, a professor of pediatric neurology at the University of Massachusetts was also positive about the results, noting that “we are far from being able to declare a victory over Autism, but this gives us important insights into what might help.” [6]

Early Research is Promising for Sulforaphane and Broccoli Microgreens as an Autism Treatment

Sulforaphane has no negative impact on the health of a child or adult yet can provide noticeable and profound changes in Autistic behaviors. As a simple dietary supplement that can be ingested naturally through broccoli microgreens, parents and adult sufferers can easily trial sulforaphane at home with no risk.

With no effective pharmaceutical medication on the market to treat Autism symptoms, the emerging body of research for sulforaphane is very promising. A natural, effective, and powerful treatment is the ultimate goal of researchers. The fact that efficacy has been proven, even on a small scale, is reason enough to consider a sulforaphane based treatment.

1. https://www.autismspeaks.org/science-news/cdc-increases-estimate-autisms-prevalence-15-percent-1-59-children CDC increases the estimate of autism’s prevalence by 15 percent, to 1 in 59 children. “Autism Speaks calls on nation’s leaders to adequately fund critically needed research and support services.”.
2. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – Treatment
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5672987/ Sulforaphane from Broccoli Reduces Symptoms of Autism: A Follow-up Case Series from a Randomized Double-blind Study
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217462/ Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
5. http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1889436,00.html Why Fever Helps Autism: A New Theory
6. http://bit.do/HopkinsMedicine Chemical Derived from Broccoli Sprouts Shows Promise in Treating Autism