Sulforaphane supplement health benefit and review of published trials - What is the right dosage, any side effects? Food and diet source, role in cancer, capsules and tablets Ray Sahelian, M.D.
February 27 2019

A high dietary intake of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with a reduction in numerous human pathologies particularly cancer. Sulforaphane is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli sprouts. Click on diet for healthy suggestions. I am not aware of a pure sulphoraphane supplement being sold at this time, although broccoli sprouts supplements are sold which have this substance in them which may help detoxify certain body toxins. As of 2016, I am not aware of human research regarding the benefit of taking a pure sulforaphane supplement. Cooking broccoli reduces the levels of this beneficial substance.


Autism, too soon to tell if it is beneficial
One small study showed some benefits; Oct. 13, 2014 PNAS Early Edition online. 44 boys and young men, aged 13 to 27, with moderate to severe autism were randomly assigned to take either sulforaphane capsules or identical-looking placebo capsules every day for 18 weeks. Based on parents' reports, many of the boys taking the extract started showing improvements in irritability, repetitive behaviors, hyperactivity and communication by the fourth week. Two of the young men on the treatment had seizures but they already had a history of seizures. Dietary sulforaphane, of recognized low toxicity, was selected for its capacity to reverse abnormalities that have been associated with autism spectrum disorder, including oxidative stress and lower antioxidant capacity, depressed glutathione synthesis, reduced mitochondrial function and oxidative phosphorylation, increased lipid peroxidation, and neuroinflammmation.

ancer prevention or treatment
Bone cancer
Nutr Cancer. Jan 9 2014. Sulforaphane Induces DNA Damage and Mitotic Abnormalities in Human Osteosarcoma MG-63 Cells: Correlation with Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis.

Breast cancer
Broccoli and watercress suppress matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity and invasiveness of human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells.
Toxicol Appl Pharmacology. 2005;
In the current study, we examined the inhibitory effects of broccoli (Brassica oleracea) and watercress (Rorripa nasturtium) extracts on 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced cancer cell invasion and matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity using human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Aberrant overexpression of matrix metalloproteinases, including metalloproteinase-9, is associated with increased invasive potential in cancer cell lines. Our results demonstrate that extracts of broccoli and Rorripa suppressed TPA-induced MMP-9 activity and invasiveness in a concentration dependant manner as determined by zymographic analysis. Furthermore, fractionation of individual extracts followed by liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy analysis (LC-MS) revealed that the inhibitory effects of each vegetable were associated with the presence of 4-methysulfinylbutyl ( sulforaphane ) and 7-methylsulphinylheptyl isothiocyanates. Taken together, our data indicate that isothiocyanates derived form broccoli and Rorripa inhibit metalloproteinase 9 activities and also suppress the invasive potential of human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells in vitro. The inhibitory effects observed in the current study may contribute to the suppression of carcinogenesis by diets high in cruciferous vegetables.

Glioma treatment
Combination Treatment with Resveratrol and Sulforaphane Induces Apoptosis in Human U251 Glioma Cells.
Neurochem Res. 2009. Jiang H, Shang X, Wu H, Huang G, Wang Y, Al-Holou S. Department of Neurology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI, USA,
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring polyphenolic compound highly enriched in grapes, peanuts, red wine, and a variety of food sources. Sulforaphane belongs to the family of isothiocyanates and is highly enriched in cruciferous vegetables. Our previous study showed that resveratrol, when used at high concentrations, inhibited cell proliferation, caused the cell cycle arrest and induced apoptotic cell death in glioma cells. In the current study, we tested the effect of combination treatment with resveratrol and sulforaphane, when both were used at low concentrations, on cell proliferation, migration and death in human U251 glioma cells. Our study shows that combination treatment with resveratrol and sulforaphane inhibits cell proliferation and migration, reduces cell viability, induces lactate dehydrogenase release, decreases pro-survival Akt phosphorylation and increases caspase-3 activation. The use of combination of bioactive food components, such as resveratrol and sulforaphane, may be a viable approach for the treatment of glioma.

Lung disease
My question is whether sulforaphane capsules could be used to treat any lung problems ie the like of emphysema or any other lung problem that would affect breathing.
   I have not seen such research.

Apoptosis. December 29 2013. Sulforaphane-induced apoptosis involves p53 and p38 in melanoma cells.

Prostate cancer
Diets high in cruciferous vegetables are associated with lower risk of incidence of prostate cancer, including aggressive forms of this disease.

Sulforaphane -induced cell death in human prostate cancer cells is initiated by reactive oxygen species.
J Biol Chem. 2005.
We have shown previously that sulforaphane, a constituent of many edible cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, suppresses growth of prostate cancer cells in culture as well as in vivo by causing apoptosis, but the sequence of events leading to cell death is poorly defined. These observations indicate that Sulforaphane -induced ROS generation is probably mediated by a nonmitochondrial mechanism involving GSH depletion as well as a mitochondrial component. Ectopic expression of Bcl-xL, but not Bcl-2, in PC-3 cells offered significant protection against the cell death caused by Sulforaphane. In addition, SFN treatment resulted in an increase in the level of Fas, activation of caspase-8, and cleavage of Bid. The results of the present study indicate that Sulforaphane -induced apoptosis in prostate cancer cells is initiated by ROS generation and that both intrinsic and extrinsic caspase cascades contribute to the cell death caused by this highly promising cancer chemopreventive agent.

Q. I have read that the dose for a 150 pound man is between 1.1 and 5.5 mg. I cannot find sulforaphane in anywhere near that size. I have been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer and am being treated by a team of urologists with various Rx, but want to add an effective dose of sulforaphane. Can you tell me where I can find an effective dose, or is it available only by prescription?
   A. I am not aware of it being by prescription.

Hair growth
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2016. Sulforaphane promotes murine hair growth by accelerating the degradation of dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes the regression of human hair follicles in the parietal scalp, leading to androgenic alopecia (AGA). Sulforaphane (SFN) increases the expression of DHT degrading enzymes, such as 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (3α-HSDs), and, therefore, SFN treatment may improve AGA. To determine the effects of SFN on hair growth, we administered sulforaphane (10 mg/kg BW, IP) or vehicle (DMSO) to ob/ob mice for six weeks and examined hair regeneration and the plasma levels of testosterone and DHT. The mice treated with SFN showed lower plasma levels of testosterone and DHT than those treated with vehicle. These results suggest that SFN treatment increases the amount of 3α-HSDs in the liver, accelerates the degradation of blood DHT, and subsequently blocks the suppression of hair growth by DHT.

Scientists at the University of East Anglia said in 2010 that initial laboratory tests find the bioactive compound sulforaphane blocks the enzymes linked to cartilage and joint destruction in osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. The scientists are undertaking a research project to see if the compound found in broccoli could slow or prevent osteoarthritis development.

Skin disease
Sulforaphane may be helpful in treating epidermolysis bullosa simplex, a genetic skin disease that causes the skin to become fragile and blister easily from minor injuries or friction, such as rubbing or scratching. Blistering may affect the hands and feet and heals, while severe cases involve widespread blistering that can lead to infection, dehydration and may be life-threatening in infants. Dr. Pierre A. Coulombe, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, believes most cases of epidermolysis bullosa simplex are due to mutations in the genes encoding the proteins keratin 5 (K5) or keratin 14 (K14), proteins that normally form skins cells. Perhaps topical sulforaphane to treat epidermolysis bullosa simplex may offer relief. In mice, sulforaphane treatment resulted in the production of skin cells that relieve the blistering caused by a K14 deficiency.

Retinal health
Sulforaphane induces thioredoxin through the antioxidant-responsive element and attenuates retinal light damage in mice.
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005.
Thioredoxin is a multifunctional endogenous redox regulator that protects cells against various types of cellular or tissue stresses. This study was conducted to test whether sulforaphane, a naturally occurring isothiocyanate that is highly concentrated in broccoli sprouts, induces Thioredoxin in retinal tissues and whether pretreatment with sulforaphane protects against light-induced retinal damage in mice. Sulforaphane induced Thioredoxin in murine retina and effectively reduced retinal light damage. Evidence suggests that the ARE is involved in the mechanism of Thioredoxin induction by sulforaphane in RPE cells.

Cooking reduces levels of sulforaphane
Bioavailability and kinetics of sulforaphane in humans after consumption of cooked versus raw broccoli.
J Agric Food Chem. 2008; Vermeulen M, Klöpping-Ketelaars IW, van den Berg R. TNO Quality of Life, AJ Zeist, The Netherlands.
The aim of this study was to determine the bioavailability and kinetics of sulforaphane, the hydrolysis product of glucoraphanin, from raw and cooked broccoli. Eight men consumed 200 g of crushed broccoli, raw or cooked, with a warm meal in a randomized, free-living, open cross-over trial. Higher amounts of sulforaphane were found in the blood and urine when broccoli was eaten raw (bioavailability of 37%) versus cooked (3%). Absorption of sulforaphane was delayed when cooked broccoli was consumed (peak plasma time ) 6 h) versus raw broccoli (1.6 h, p ). This study shows that consumption of raw broccoli results in faster absorption, higher bioavailability, and higher peak plasma amounts of sulforaphane, compared to cooked broccoli.

Adverse reactions, side effects
It has the potential to be a blood thinner.

Thromb Haemost. 2013. Sulforaphane prevents human platelet aggregation through inhibiting the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway. Chin-Chung Wu, Graduate Institute of Natural Products, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

I have a daughter who is taking Coumadin daily for Protein C deficiency. Does the Broccoli-Sprouts extract sulforaphane have any Vitamin K in it? I would like to have her take this supplement but need to be sure of the Vitamin K content.
   We are not aware of broccoli sprouts extracts to have any vitamin K. Sulforaphane is a substance that is different than vitamin K. We have not seen studies that have evaluated the interaction of Coumadin with broccoli sprout extract supplement use.

I am a PhD research student in Australia; my research is in sulforaphane so I was interested to see you have written about broccoli sprouts in the context of their bioactivity. I see you refer to a product which claims to yield 2000mcg per 500 mg serving (2 capsules). I am working with an Australian product which yields sulforaphane 12,000 mcg per gram or 6000 mcg per 500mg capsule. We will begin on a clinical trial in a few months time and have been characterising the product itself in the lead up to the trial. Many of the available products are brown in colour, whereas this product is a rich green. I thought you may be interested in comparing this product against the one you are currently recommending.

I was reading your site and noticed that you state you are unaware of any company selling it. I would suggest that you look at Xymogen. They are a health professional supplier only but they have an excellent sulforaphane product. I have no connection with the company other than I am a customer and use their products for myself and my patients.

Product to purchase online
Source Naturals, Broccoli Sprouts Extract, 60 Tablets yielding 1 mg per tablet
Jarrow Formulas, BroccoMax, Myrosinase Activated, 60 Veggie Caps

Buy Sulforaphane Broccoli Sprouts capsules
A number of studies have shown that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetable such as broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower have health promoting properties. Researchers have isolated a key active component of broccoli called sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate believed to stimulate enzymes in the body. Freshly germinated Broccoli sprouts contain 30 to 50 times the concentration of isothiocyanate as mature broccoli. This extract provides 2,000 mcg sulforphane daily, equivalent to eating more than a pound of fresh broccoli.

Supplement Facts Jarrow Formulas, BroccoMax, Myrosinase Activated
Serving Size: 1 Capsule
Serving Per Container: 60
  Amount Per Serving % DV
Sulforaphane Glucosinolate (Brassica oleracea L. Italica) (A proprietary blend of Sulforaphane Glucosinolate, SGS [aka Glucoraphanin], and Myrosinase Enzyme from De-Oiled Broccoli Seed Powder Plus Calcium Ascorbate) 30 mg *
* Daily Value not established.