Broccoli Compound Fights Mental Illness

In All Health Watch, Cognitive Health, Featured Article, Mental Health, Nootropics and Brain Support

Mainstream doctors have long been baffled by schizophrenia. They don’t know what causes it. And they don’t have a cure for it.

It’s one of the most common mental illnesses. About 3.5 million Americans have it. And it can be completely debilitating, causing patients to hallucinate and experience delusions.

The first-line treatment is antipsychotic drugs. Some patients are given electroconvulsive therapy. (You may remember seeing this treatment in the classic movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.)

But studies show that medications may do more harm than good. They sometimes have toxic effects. And electroconvulsive therapy can cause memory problems and requires a general anesthesia.[1] [2]

New research shows there may be a better, natural way to treat schizophrenia.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Scientists recruited 81 schizophrenia patients and 91 people without the disease.[3]

The research team used a magnetic device to measure five regions of the subjects’ brains. They compared the results from the schizophrenics to the control group. Computer analysis revealed the amount of certain chemicals in the brains of both.

Schizophrenics had 4% less glutamate in one brain region. Glutamate is essential for sending messages between brain cells.

The schizophrenics also lacked glutathione in two other brain regions. Glutathione is partly made up of glutamate.

Further testing indicated that sulforaphane may restore glutamate and glutathione. Sulforaphane is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli.

Dr. Akira Sawa is director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center. He said that it’s possible sulforaphane could be “a safe supplement to give people at risk of developing schizophrenia.” It could also be used to “prevent, delay, or blunt” the symptoms.[4]

New Use for an Old Supplement

As we mentioned, sulforaphane is found in some vegetables. But to ingest it in the levels used in studies, you have to take it as a supplement. You can get it from online retailers and health food stores.

Some people report mild side effects, including stomach upset. But sulforaphane is considered safe…far less dangerous that antipsychotic drugs or electroconvulsive therapy. Typical sulforaphane dosages are around 400 mcg per day.

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