Sulforaphane Improves Autism Symptoms

Normally, I would be sharing a new blog post with you today. In fact, I already had one lined up about the link between antidepressants and weight gain (which I hope you’ll check back for in a few days). However, just this week a press release from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found its way to my inbox, and I was so caught by the results of the study they reported, that I want to immediately share it with all of you. What this study means for the treatment of autism is groundbreaking. 

Read MGH’s press release below, copied in its entirety, and view the original study here, for your reference. You can learn more about sulforaphane, the subject of this groundbreaking research as it relates to Parkinson’s disease, in this 2013 study.

BOSTON – A small study led by investigators at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has found evidence that daily treatment with sulforaphane – a molecule found in foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage – may improve some symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. In their report being published online in PNAS Early Edition, the investigators describe how participants receiving a daily dose of sulforaphane showed improvement in both behavioral and communication assessments in as little as four weeks.

The authors stress that the results of this pilot study – conducted at the MGHfC-affiliated Lurie Center for Autism – must be confirmed in larger investigations before any conclusions can be drawn about sulforaphane’s therapeutic benefit. “Over the years there have been several anecdotal reports that children with autism can have improvements in social interaction and sometimes language skills when they have a fever,” explains Andrew Zimmerman, MD, a co-corresponding author of the current report who also published a 2007 paper documenting the fever effect. “We investigated what might be behind that on a cellular level and postulated that it results from fever’s activation of the cellular stress response, in which protective cellular mechanisms that are usually held in reserve are turned on through activation of gene transcription.” Affiliated with the MGHfC Department of Neurology, Zimmerman is now based at UMass Memorial Medical Center.  Continue reading

How About a Broccoli Detox?

By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine

Since childhood we’ve been told to eat our broccoli, a request usually based on the claim that “it’s good for you.” Though we now have substantial research to back up this statement, new data from Johns Hopkins scientists may be one of the best reasons to keep this vegetable on the top of our shopping lists.

Recently, broccoli has been the subject of many papers on cancer prevention. Containing a unique chemical called sulforaphane, broccoli helps fight off malignant cells in the body. But now, researchers have taken this property one step further. This fascinating data measures the ability of broccoli to detoxify the body of cancer-inducing chemicals before they get a chance to cause problems.  

In this new study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention, scientists selected participants living in an area of China with substantial air pollution. They first assessed the amount of pollutant found in the participant’s urine, and then assigned some participants to consume a beverage made of broccoli sprouts. Afterward, the scientists found that people who drank the broccoli beverage were able to get rid of substantially higher levels of the environmental pollutants than those who did not. Continue reading

Patrick L.

Patrick’s “a-ha” moment is just great. Did any of you have a similar moment? – Dr. Perlmutter

While reading Grain Brain, I had my “a-ha” moment in chapter 3. I immediately dumped out my sugar-filled coffee and poured a fresh black cup. In that moment, I swore off sugar and gluten completely. I focused solely on protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.

In just the last four weeks I have lost six pounds. It’s been only thirty days and I feel completely different! My gas problem has disappeared, and I wake up refreshed and energized, rather than with a feeling of sickness. I have a new grandson, and this is the grandfather I want him to know.

 -Patrick L.

Doctor David Perlmutter on the Dr. Oz Show

Dr. Perlmutter and Grain Brain on Dr. Oz

Grain Brain Book Cover

As many of you know, yesterday I had the opportunity to spend some time with my good friend Dr. Oz discussing my new book, Grain Brain, and the role of diet in determining brain health. For starters, welcome to all who are joining me for the first time. I hope you’ll take some time to read Grain Brain and participate in the dialogue that takes place on my website and on my Facebook page.

While there were many interesting and important ideas we could have discussed, we focused on the primary and detrimental role of dietary choices favoring carbohydrates as actually proving toxic to brain health. Dr. Oz and I mentioned how Grain Brain is really focused on emphasizing the importance of adding back healthy fats to the diet as a means to achieve a healthy brain. Indeed, as I discussed, these dietary choices may well have a significant role in actually reducing risk for such devastating issues as Alzheimer’s disease.

Providing a visual of those foods that are and are not Grain Brain-friendly proved an incredibly helpful way for people to visualize our message. And we’ve really seen a nice response from that portion of the segment. Don’t let our small table of vegetables and fruits scare you! In addition to all the healthy fats and proteins we laid out, there are still plenty of healthy low-sugar fruits and vegetables to incorporate into your diet (think spinach, kale, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, tomato, squash, and blueberries among others).

Dr. Oz and I then spend some time on “the table of happy” where we talk about the ideal sources of brain healthy fats that should comprise a large portion of our diets. These include olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and grass-fed and free-range meats. Click here for a more comprehensive list of foods that you should be eating every day!

If you missed the segment yesterday, you can visit Dr. Oz’s website for clips.

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