|Credit: Puamelia on Flickr|
Autism symptoms improved significantly in individuals after receiving sulforaphane, a chemical derived from broccoli, according to a study published online on Oct. 13.
Sulforaphane improved social and communication skills and lessened repetitive behaviors, report researchers from MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Forty males with autism between the ages of 13 and 27 participated in the study. Twenty-six participants received daily doses of sulforaphane. The rest of the participants received a placebo.
Over half of the males who took sulforaphane showed substantial improvement in social interaction and verbal communication. In addition, repetitive and ritualistic behaviors lessened. These improvements were lost when the participants stopped taking sulforaphane.
|Credit: Linda Aslund on Flickr|
Researchers were particularly impressed that this chemical appeared to target the "basic mechanisms of the disorder." "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,” says researcher Paul Talalay, M.D.
Adding broccoli to your children's diets is unlikely to help their autism symptoms. Talalay cautions that it would be extremely difficult for an individual to eat enough broccoli to reach a therapeutic dose of sulforaphane.
The study "Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)" is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.