In a small placebo-controlled trial, sulforaphane supplements eased autism symptoms in nearly half of those treated
Results of a small clinical trial suggest that a supplement derived from broccoli sprouts can ease the core symptoms of autism in some people with the disorder. The chemical – sulforaphane – is best known from studies suggesting that it helps prevent certain cancers.
The study involved 40 boys and young men, ages 13 to 27, with moderate to severe autism. Of these, 29 were randomly selected to receive the supplement (50 to 150 µmol depending on weight). The others received a look-alike placebo, or “dummy” capsule. Neither the researchers nor the participants and their families knew who received the actual treatment until after the trial concluded.
Before starting the trial, the participants’ parents and physicians filled out three standard behavioral assessments that measure sensory issues, ability to relate to others, communication skills, sociability and other behaviors related to autism. The researchers repeated these assessments at 4, 10 and 18 weeks of treatment, then once more four weeks after the treatment stopped. Of the 40 participants who began the trial, 37 remained through the final assessment.