Showing posts with label ESP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ESP. Show all posts

Sunday 9 November 2014

Dr Dolittle, Autism and the Broccoli Sprouts

In the Dr Dolittle books and subsequent films, a man develops the power to communicate with animals.  It seems that one effect of broccoli sprout powder (and we assume Sulforaphane), in autism,  is an urge to talk, not only to humans, but also to animals.

Monty, aged 11 with ASD, took his first dose of 2.5ml of broccoli powder (Supersprouts brand from Australia) and after about half an hour developed euphoria.  The laughter later subsided and throughout the day he was very talkative.  This was relevant speech and not repeating things he had heard previously.  Other than the euphoria, which is the word chosen by elder brother Ted, a nice development was the desire to communicate with the animal world.

After a visit to his favourite ice cream shop, he looked up and saw the big railway bridge. “Bye bye railway station” commented Monty.  Walking up the hill we first passed a kitten, playing by the verge, “Hello baby kitten! Bye bye baby kitten!”  Then a big dog appeared “Hello big white dog and a woman! Bye bye big white dog and woman!”.  This was all rather unexpected.

The next day, another 2.5ml of broccoli powder and the same result.  Euphoria and lots of talking.

Then I decided to start experimenting with the dose.  I gave 1.25ml three times a day.

After the breakfast dose, no euphoria but still plenty of speech.  After lunch, the second dose and the return of mild euphoria.  After the evening dose, more euphoria.  The half-life of Sulforaphane in people is claimed to be about two hours.

Based on this limited experience, I think 2.5ml is about right.  There is no need for more.


I paid AU$ 110 (US$ 95 or GBP 60) for 300g of broccoli powder including shipping.

2.5ml of powder weighs 1.1g.  So using that daily dose of 2.5ml the cost would be 35 US cents (22 UK pence).

My earlier assumption was that a dose of about 18 g of fresh sprouts would produce the required level of Sulforaphane.  In theory, this would be 3 ml of broccoli powder, if it had 100% of the right enzymes in it and none of the bad stuff (called ESP, from the last post).  I was quite surprised at the effect of 2.5ml.  Johns Hopkins told me that most broccoli powders are no good; that is why I looked around before choosing the Australian product.

As a dosage comparison, this supplement is sold in Australia with a suggested daily dose of 5g, which equates to about 11 ml. 

So my “autism dose" looks quite conservative.  I think even half the suggested adult dose would make Monty completely hyper.

Note that the dose of the anti-oxidant NAC used in autism trials is 4X the usual adult dose of NAC and 2X the adult dose for adults with COPD (severe asthma).

The effect on an adult

I tried a scaled up dose myself, but sadly no euphoria followed.

Monty is already taking a potent anti-oxidant called NAC, which has been investigated in an autism trial at Stanford.
The broccoli sprouts produce a substance called Sulforaphane (SFN).  This substance activates Nrf2 which upregulates “phase II enzymes”; they increase the body’s antioxidant response.  SFN is also an inhibitor of HDAC (Histone Deacetylase) and this may give SFN the ability to target aberrant epigenetic patterns.
SFN is therefore a secondary anti-oxidant.  It has been shown to improve the body’s response to cancer and environmental toxins.  The chemoprotective properties may result from SFN’s epigenetic properties or the anti-oxidant properties.
SFN was shown in a recent study at Johns Hopkins to improve autism in young adults.  It is not known definitively why it was effective.

My experiment indicates that, in classic autism, Sulforaphane (SFN) does provide a marked and immediate benefit over NAC alone, which is what I set out to determine.

Australian broccoli sprout powder appears to be a relatively cheap and effective way to make SFN at home. 

Thursday 6 November 2014

Sulforaphane, Epithiospecifier Proteins (ESP) or just Sulforadex for Autism

One reader of the last post on Sulforaphane raised the issue of whether she should cook her broccoli sprouts, to optimize her autism therapy.

This seemed a bit strange, since even the researchers at Johns Hopkins are eating their sprouts raw.  She does have a valid point.  It seems that while sprouts have large amounts of glucoraphanin and the required enzyme myrosinase, they also have something called Epithiospecifier Protein (ESP).  If there is much ESP present, instead of Sulforaphane you get a very similar compound called Sulforaphane Nitrile.  You can see that the “S” has been replaced by an “N”.

All is not lost, for those of you with sprouts growing in the kitchen.
Further research showed that the concentration of ESP in the sprouts peaks on the second day and that by day 5 has dropped dramatically.

It was also showed that raising the temperature of the sprouts to 60 degrees Celsius deactivated the ESP.  Heating Broccoli florets much beyond this then reduced the Sulforaphane produced, but not heating the sprouts.

Sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate from broccoli, is one of the most potent food-derived anticarcinogens. This compound is not present in the intact vegetable, rather it is formed from its glucosinolate precursor, glucoraphanin, by the action of myrosinase, a thioglucosidase enzyme, when broccoli tissue is crushed or chewed. However, a number of studies have demonstrated that sulforaphane yield from glucoraphanin is low, and that a non-bioactive nitrile analog, sulforaphane nitrile, is the primary hydrolysis product when plant tissue is crushed at room temperature. Recent evidence suggests that in Arabidopsis, nitrile formation from glucosinolates is controlled by a heat-sensitive protein, epithiospecifier protein (ESP), a non-catalytic cofactor of myrosinase. Our objectives were to examine the effects of heating broccoli florets and sprouts on sulforaphane and sulforaphane nitrile formation, to determine if broccoli contains ESP activity, then to correlate heat-dependent changes in ESP activity, sulforaphane content and bioactivity, as measured by induction of the phase II detoxification enzyme quinone reductase (QR) in cell culture. Heating fresh broccoli florets or broccoli sprouts to 60 degrees C prior to homogenization simultaneously increased sulforaphane formation and decreased sulforaphane nitrile formation. A significant loss of ESP activity paralleled the decrease in sulforaphane nitrile formation. Heating to 70 degrees C and above decreased the formation of both products in broccoli florets, but not in broccoli sprouts. The induction of QR in cultured mouse hepatoma Hepa lclc7 cells paralleled increases in sulforaphane formation.

So it would seem that if you want to eat the sprouts raw, you need to wait for five days before consuming them.  Not good to eat them when two days old.

If you cook them, you do risk affecting the myrosinase and then you might need to add back some more from another source, just as Nicole mentioned in her comment.  But some research implies the sprouts are heat stable.

This all starts to get rather complicated.

Personally I decided to buy freeze dried broccoli sprout powder from Australia.  They claim to measure for ESP, and there is very little.  Their myrosinase has not been deactivated in processing.

If true, their product is near ideal.  Is say near ideal, because one spoonful also has the taste of a plateful of broccoli.

Mine has now arrived and so I will serve one level teaspoonful a day.

Other research actually suggested that Daikon radish may be event better than broccoli.  Johns Hopkins chose to patent the broccoli.  In their research compound, they reacted broccoli sprouts with daikon radish sprouts to make a standardized Sulforaphane which is then freeze dried and kept frozen.


Daikon powder is readily available and is a potent source of heat stable myrosinase.

So I will seek to get the optimal output from my Australian sprout powder by adding a dash of Daikon powder.

A better way?  Sulforadex

This kitchen chemistry may all seem rather haphazard and indeed it is.

Rather than try and make 8 mg of Sulforaphane in your kitchen, would it not be better to buy 8 mg of standardized heat stable Sulforaphane in the pharmacy?

Sulforadex is potentially exactly that; it is an analog of Sulforaphane.  Trials have started in humans and at very much higher doses to check for toxicity and side effects.

Here is a link to the Phase 1 trial:-

The only questions I have are:- is anyone 100% certain that Sulforaphane is the only beneficial compound produced by eating broccoli?  Is Sulforaphane the only compound present in Johns Hopkin’s frozen capsules?  When they react their broccoli sprouts with daikon sprouts in the lab, there are other compounds produced.

Monty, aged 11 with ASD, is by now remarkably accommodating when it comes to downing unappetizing potions.  NAC tastes pretty bad, unless you use the more expensive effervescent variety.  But this pales in comparison to what a spoonful of broccoli sprout powder tastes like (and looks like).

They also make this powder in capsule form, for those who can swallow them. 

The more appetising anti-oxidant would be a bar of high flavanol dark chocolate, as we discovered in the previous post.  As well as tasting better, it may quite possibly be just as effective.