Food and Behaviour Research

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09 February 2015 - News4Jax - Compound in broccoli could help ease autism symptoms

Jodi Mohrmann

Because there is no cure for autism, there are many treatment options and medications to help ease the symptoms of the disorder. A new study found a chemical in broccoli sprouts, sulforaphane, that may show promise for helping with these symptoms.

Andrew Zimmerman, MD, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at UMass Memorial Medical Center,  says a compound found in broccoli sprouts seems to mimic something called the fever effect in the body, it’s what protects cells in times of stress.

“Sulforaphane is one compound that performs many of these functions by kick starting or up-regulating those functions in the cells,” explained Zimmerman.

The idea came from a previous study showing when kids with autism get a fever, their symptoms improve.

“They’re more sociable and they make more eye contact,” Zimmerman said.

In the 18-week trial, 40 young men with severe to moderate autism either got the drug or a placebo. By week four researchers saw improvements.

“They were calmer, more sociable,” added Zimmerman.