Sulforaphane: Benefits, Side Effects, and Food Sources

Sulforaphane is a natural substance found in broccoli sprouts. It is one of the most abundant phytochemicals present in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards and mustard greens. It was first discovered when scientists were studying how to make better beer (1). Since then it has been used extensively in many food products including soups, sauces and pickles. Its antioxidant properties have been studied since its discovery. Some studies suggest that sulforaphane may reduce risk factors for certain cancers (2). Other research suggests that sulforaphane may prevent or delay age-related diseases (3, 4) and other conditions (5).

The main active ingredient in broccoli sprout is called glucoraphanin. It is a precursor to another compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is considered to be beneficial because it reduces oxidative stress and protects against some types of cancer cells. However, there are still several questions about sulforaphane’s potential carcinogenic effects. There is evidence that shows that sulforaphane does not cause cancer in animals but it has been shown to increase the risk of liver tumors in rats (6).

There are two forms of sulforaphane: glucoraphanin and sulferrin. Glucoraphanin is the form found naturally in broccoli sprouts while sulferrin is produced synthetically. Sulferrin has the same anticancer effect as sulforaphane but it has a shorter life in the body. In theory, sulforaphane supplements are more effective than glucoraphanin supplements because sulforaphane acts faster.

Many people take sulforaphane supplements to prevent cancer or to slow the aging process (7, 8). However, it is advised that you eat foods with glucoraphanin instead of taking sulforaphane supplements. Glucoraphanin is found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale. The best source of glucoraphanin is broccoli sprouts because they have the highest concentration of it.

Glucoraphanin has many different effects on your body. It helps with weight loss because it can prevent obesity and metabolic syndrome (9, 10). It also helps treat inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and prevent colon cancer (11).

In humans, sulforaphane has been shown to cause phase II enzymes to increase in tissues. It is well known that sulforaphane is an antioxidant and that it helps with the scavenging of free radicals in the body. It has been found to help prevent and treat some types of cancer (12, 13).

Sulforaphane has also been found to be an activator of Nrf2, which is a factor that protects against oxidative stress (14). Sulforaphane also has an effect on a protein called HDAC (histone deacetylase), which in turn influences the behavior of certain genes (15). Sulforaphane has been found to increase apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells and prevent tumors from growing in animal studies. A few studies have been done on humans and sulforaphane has been found to cause some anticancer effects (16).

To make broccoli sprouts, you need:

One large pot of boiling water

1. Take one large pot filling it up with water and bring it to a boil.

2. Put the broccoli seeds in the boiling water and wait for the water to come back to a rolling boil.

3. Boil the seeds for about 2-5 minutes (depending on how mature you want them to be).

Be sure to continually stir the water so that all the seeds get boiled evenly.

4. Fill up a large bowl with ice water and put the pot in the bowl.

The iced water will stop the broccoli seeds from cooking any further and will also cool the water in the pot down.

5. Let the broccoli seeds soak in the iced water for at least an hour (overnight is best).

6. Empty out the water from the bowl and take the pot over to a sink or outside.

7. Continue to rinse the broccoli seeds with running water until you no longer see any foam or bubbles coming off of them.

8. Fill up a large pot or bowl with clean water and let the broccoli seeds soak in it overnight or for at least 8 hours.

9. Empty out the water and let the broccoli seeds dry out for about 1-2 days on a plate or cookie sheet.

10. Place the broccoli seeds in a container that has a tight fitting lid and keep it in a dark, cool place (like a refrigerator).

11. In a few days you should begin to see little sprouts coming out of the seeds.

12. These can then be eaten raw or cooked.

13. To eat, take out as many as you would like to eat and place them in a bowl of water (they absorb water so they will double in size when you first put them in the water).

14. If you don’t plan on eating them right away, place them in the refrigerator in the water and they should keep for up to a week.

15. If you want to eat them later, take them out of the water (save the water, though) and dry them off completely before placing them in a plastic bag and storing them in the freezer.

16. Do not refreeze broccoli after it has thawed.

Broccoli sprouts are full of anticancer compounds. Enjoy them to their fullest, but remember that they tend to lose some of their nutritional content when they’re cooked, so eat them raw whenever possible. Every time you eat a few you’ll be adding to your health and in a few weeks you’ll see that there really is a difference.

2. Garlic:

Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used as both a flavoring and a medicine in many cultures since ancient times. The Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all revered garlic for its health giving properties. Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, prescribed it for medicinal uses and even before his time it was recommended by the Egyptian physician Nicander. In the first century A.D.

Pliny the Elder wrote about the beneficial effects of garlic on humans. During World War I, garlic was used to prevent the spread of disease that often happened in crowded trenches. It was also given to soldiers to prevent infection from wounds caused by poisonous gas attacks. Garlic has long been recognized for its antibiotic and antiseptic properties.

It grows easily in all parts of the world and is easy to grow. It is believed to have originated in central Asia but is now cultivated worldwide. It has long been a staple in the diet of people living in central Asia, Russia, eastern Europe and China.

It is a member of the lily family and has a characteristic odor. Its scientific name “Allium” comes from the Latin word “alluo” meaning to disturb. All parts of the plant including the leaves, roots, bulbs and flowers have medicinal uses.

The main active ingredients in garlic are its sulphur compounds namely alliin, which is converted into allicin when crushed. The enzyme alliinase triggers the reaction and then quickly breaks down. This is why fresh garlic is more effective than dried garlic for medicinal purposes. Other active ingredients include:

Ajoene: A strong antifungal antibiotic

Allicin: Antibiotic, Antiviral, Anti-Inflammatory, Antiparasitic and Antileukemic

Selenium: Powerful Immunostimulant

Sulphur Dioxide: Pain Reliever

Gamma-Glutamyl-Butyryl-AA: An Antioxidant

Enzyme allinase: One of the main anticoagulants in Garlic

Vitamin C: Antioxidant

Vitamin B Complex: Boosts the Immune System

Iron: Necessary for proper blood flow and preventing anemia

Many studies have been done on garlic and these are a few of the findings:

It has been found effective as a mosquito repellent.

It increases blood flow to the brain and improves cognitive performance.

It can prevent arteriosclerosis and reduce the risk of heart attack.

It has a beneficial effect on the digestive system, regulates blood sugar levels, reduces high cholesterol levels and triglycerides.

It boosts the immune system and prevents infection. It also heals infections when taken at the first sign of sickness.

It helps prevent ulcers and can heal ones already present.

It is beneficial for the lungs and is used as treatment for Tuberculosis. It also protects against cancer and reduces the risk of getting cancer.

It can prevent epileptic seizures and reduce the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

It is known to relieve stress, reduce anxiety and stabilize mood swings.

It can prevent premature aging caused by the free radicals that are always present in the body.

It improves cognition and brain function in general.

It is used to relieve arthritis, osteoarthritis, general pain and muscular pain.

Research is still being done on garlic but it has been used as a medicinal herb since ancient times and its health benefits are well established. It has no known side effects when taken in moderation and is safe for long-term use.

It is best to eat garlic as fresh as possible because this preserves the allicin and alliinase which quickly break down after the garlic clove has been crushed or chopped.

So the next time you are feeling a little under the weather, why not try some garlic?

It may work for you when nothing else will and you can get back to your life without the nuisance of feeling sick!


Learn More About Natural Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Natural Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Related Conditions:

5-HTP for Depression: A Safe, Effective Treatment for Depression

Are you one of the tens of millions of Americans that suffer from depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

If so, there is hope. 5-HTP may be the safe, natural solution you’ve been looking for.

What is 5-HTP?

5-hydroxytryptophan, also known as 5-HTP, is a natural solution for treating depression and SAD (seasonal affective disorder). SAD is a type of depression that gets worse during the winter months when there is less sunlight.

Studies show that the reason for this is due to a deficiency in the brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin helps control our mood and is also involved in sleep, appetite and weight, blood clotting, and more.

5-HTP is a natural way to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. It can be taken every day of the week (unlike prescription antidepressants that should not be taken every day).

Unlike some antidepressant medications, 5-HTP has no negative effects on sexual functioning and in some people it actually increases sexual arousal.

Other natural remedies for depression include: St. John’s Wort, SAM-e, Kava, Ginseng, and a good multi-vitamin.

What are the benefits of 5-HTP?

Unlike antidepressant medications, 5-HTP is as safe as a vitamin supplement. There is no danger of developing a “kicking” reaction when you stop taking it and it doesn’t cause any negative effects on sexual functioning.

It has been proven effective in the treatment of depression, PMS, and fibromyalgia. For some people, 5-HTP is also effective in helping them lose weight and quit smoking.

Taking 5-HTP at a dose of 200-600 mg per day is safe for most people. Some people experience mild nausea when they first start taking it but this usually goes away after a few days.

Start out with a low dose and increase slowly. It’s been used by millions of people all over the world for about 30 years and is considered safe for most people when taken for a few weeks at the recommended doses.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take 5-HTP. You should also not use 5-HTP if you have a history of drug abuse, bipolar depression (it can trigger a manic episode), or liver or kidney disease.

Don’t use it if you’re taking any other medications or prescription antidepressants. Tell your doctor if you use 5-HTP and other natural supplements.

Because 5-HTP can increase the amount of serotonin in the body, it is possible that it may interfere with other drugs and cause dangerous side effects. Before starting 5-HTP, tell your doctor about all the other medications you are taking.

If you are taking any drugs for depression, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), do not take 5-HTP. These drugs can be dangerous when taken with 5-HTP.

If you are unsure if your medication is an MAOI or SSRI, do not take 5-HTP. Instead, talk to your doctor before using 5-HTP or any other supplements. You can also find a holistic doctor who can prescribe 5-HTP after assessing your need for it and determining that it is safe for you to take.

What are the side effects of 5-HTP?

5-HTP has been used by millions of people around the world for about 30 years. It has a good safety record as long as it is not mixed with drugs or supplements that increase serotonin.

Serotonin syndrome is a dangerous condition caused by having too much serotonin in the body. This is more of a risk when using antidepressants called SSRIs or other drugs and supplements that increase serotonin.

Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking any of these medications or drugs:

Any antidepressant medication or drug that increases serotonin, including all SSRIs such as Prozac (Fluoxetine), Zoloft (Sertraline), Paxil (Paroxetine), Celexa (Citalopram), and others; Tricyclic antidepressants, another type of antidepressant; Sumatriptan, a drug used to treat migraines; Amphetamines; Cocaine; MDMA (ecstasy); Methamphetamine; Oxycodone; Tapentadol; and Melatonin.

Possible side effects include nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, constipation, dry mouth, diarrhea, yawning, fatigue, dizziness, sleepiness, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and irrational behavior.

If you have anxiety, take 5-HTP with food and only with a doctor’s supervision. Stop taking it if you develop anxiety or any other side effects.

Do not use 5-HTP if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you are under a doctors care for conditions including bipolar disorder or depression, do not stop taking your medications without your doctors supervision.

Do not give 5-HTP to children or teenagers without medical supervision.

Do not drive or operate heavy machinery within 4 to 6 hours of taking 5-HTP, as it may cause dizziness or sleepyness.

5-HTP can also be harmful to people with a rare inherited enzyme deficiency called aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency.

There is limited data on the safety of 5-HTP in pregnancy. Please consult with your doctor before taking it if you are pregnant.

It’s important to remember that while 5-HTP is naturally occurring, it is still a drug and can cause drug interactions and adverse effects. Do not take more than the recommended dosage. If you experience any negative side effects, stop taking immediately and consult your doctor.

Always make sure to buy from reputable manufacturers and read through reviews before buying any product online.

How do I know if 5-HTP will work for me?

Sources & references used in this article:

The role of Sulforaphane in cancer chemoprevention and health benefits: a mini-review by RB Mokhtari, N Baluch, TS Homayouni… – Journal of cell …, 2018 – Springer

Potential effects of sulforaphane to fight obesity by T Martins, B Colaço, C Venâncio… – … the Science of Food …, 2018 – Wiley Online Library

Sulforaphane: translational research from laboratory bench to clinic by CA Houghton, RG Fassett, JS Coombes – Nutrition reviews, 2013 –

Health Benefits of Plant-Derived Sulfur Compounds, Glucosinolates, and Organosulfur Compounds by N Miękus, K Marszałek, M Podlacha, A Iqbal… – Molecules, 2020 –

Broccoli or sulforaphane: is it the source or dose that matters? by Y Yagishita, JW Fahey, AT Dinkova-Kostova… – Molecules, 2019 –

The potential use of l-sulforaphane for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases: A review of the clinical evidence by N Mazarakis, K Snibson, PV Licciardi, TC Karagiannis – Clinical Nutrition, 2020 – Elsevier

Sulforaphane and other nutrigenomic Nrf2 activators: can the clinician’s expectation be matched by the reality? by CA Houghton, RG Fassett, JS Coombes – Oxidative medicine and …, 2016 –