Have you heard that broccoli helps prevent arthritis? I hadn’t either, but I’m training my orthopedic husband so well that he is all over this. So now, instead of reading and typing about butyrate for the colon, I have to look on Amazon for a broccoli seed sprouter and find some broccoli seeds to sprout. Then, learn how to sprout broccoli. Personally, I think he’s taking this diet stuff a bit too far. But maybe that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Oh my goodness, what are we coming to here in this house? I never, ever thought I would come to this. Making my own sauerkraut. Eating liver. Drinking homemade broth. Giving up milk and bread. Honestly, I can barely carry on a conversation with another physician anymore. Now, I’ve got too many opinions that I’ve formed from my own research. They say don’t talk politics and religion. I know now. It’s don’t talk politics, religion, and food.
Sprouter and seeds purchased. We will be fighting arthritis in this family with broccoli sprouts, bone broth, gelatin powder, lots of cruciferous vegetables (that’s broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels, etc), weight maintenance, gluten avoidance, a naturally rich omega-3 diet, and sheer insanity. No, no.
Open-mindedness. Do you think any of my husband’s orthopedic patients will join the madness? Maybe I could offer his clinic broccoli sprouting classes…
This link leads to an abstract, which will then allow you to read the full text of the research done on sulforaphane and osteoarthritis. Sulforaphane is found abundantly in broccoli, and particularly in sprouts: Sulforaphane represses matrix-degrading proteases and protects cartilage from destruction in vitro and in vivo.
Photo Credit: “Five Day Old Organic Broccoli Sprouts” from Wikipedia
I hear you on not talking about politics, religion, and especially food. I forget that I am so far removed from the food pyramid and the Standard American Diet, that I don’t comment on dietary topics unless someone asks me about what type of diet I do. And then when I try to explain it to them they just don’t understand it. What’s so hard about eating fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables. . .
I don’t know. How did we get so far removed from real food? I went shopping with a group of ladies from church for a party. It was a shocker. I tried not to, but I kept reading labels. MSG? Eeks!
Let’s get this study into perspective. I am a researcher in the field of broccoli sprouts and its active bioactive compound, sulforaphane. It really irritates me when I see animal research taken out of context in this way. This study was an animal study and the doses used in the study are not relevant to humans.
The mice were given large doses of sulforaphane and by two different mechanisms, the inflammation in the joints was halted, allowing the repair to take place. Now, this seems very impressive but unfortunately, we can’t necessarily translate the findings of an animal study to the human situation.
As a very rough calculation, a human would need to take about 70 high quality sulforaphane-yielding broccoli sprout capsules daily to get a similar result. This is clearly unreasonable. If you are looking for capsules, avoid anything marked as a broccoli ‘extract’ as it is inactive; similarly avoid anything marked as containing ‘sulforaphane glucosinolate’ as it is also inactive. You need to look for a 100% whole myrosinase-active broccoli sprout capsule.
Eating fresh sprouts is also unlikely to be of benefit for 2 reasons: you would have to eat about a pound (1/2 kg) of fresh sprouts daily; this is a huge volume because they are very light in weight. Most importantly, the fresh sprouts contain an inhibitor and so up to 75% of what is produced when you eat them is inactive.
If you take 2-4 of the high quality capsules daily, you will improved the function of every cell in your body and there is very good science to support this; this may have some benefit on your joints but don’t think that at this dose it will be rebuilding cartilage as the mouse study showed.
Science Journalists often sensationalise the findings of studies; typically, they create a headline to capture a reader’s attention – and then readers can be disappointed that they don’t get the ‘amazing’ results described in the article.
Dr. Houghton, Thank you for leaving your comments and
concerns! In a sense, the post was really tongue-in-cheek regarding
how two mainstream MDs (you know most MDs usually shun nutrition
and nutritional supplements–we were no different) are learning to
pay attention to intensive nutrition for overall health, disease
prevention, and in some cases, even reversal. Just prior to quickly
typing up the post, I was indeed searching for just the very
product you mention and represent, I believe; sadly (to me, not you), my husband prefers a pill! I,
however, had trouble locating anything with the myrosinase enzyme
you mentioned available here in the USA. So I threw up my hands and
said, “Sprouts will work. I like whole foods much better anyway.”
And I buzzed on over to Amazon for a sprouter (after looking for
the sulforaphane with myrosinase first).
I will point out that we
are trying to prevent OA in a person with a strong family history,
rather than reversal.
I avidly read your response, and I do hope
you may see my response and questions and offer a reply to this
most humble, learning blogger. Is the 1/2 kg of fresh sprouts
necessary to obtain the sulforaphane equivalent to that used in the
mice? Would it be possible to have an effect at a lower dose, even
in the mice–it’s just that that was the dose used? Or is the 1/2
kg necessary because of the inhibitor? Does the inhibitor content
change with the age of the sprouts? Do any of our enzymes or
bacterial enzymes modify the inhibitor? It sounds like you have a
great product, can you link to some studies I can look at, please?
I am sorry for your irritation. You are right. We certainly don’t
want any false expectations to arise form sensationalism; I hope my
post cannot be construed as sensationalism! Just some self-humor
with a link for people to check out. Animal research in this
context is aimed toward hopefully improving human health, and
unfortunately, we don’t have a study yet to tell us the best “form”
and dose or if we will see anything in humans. Until then, I’m game
for eating lots of cruciferous vegetables, both cooked and raw, and
growing a few seeds–it’s a great experiment for my homeschooled
kids. If I can find that supplement, my husband might prefer it to
my soggy broccoli and kitchen counter experiments.
Thank you for your detailed response. You might like to look at the EnduraCell website regarding product supply – this is the one I am using in my research. I am always reluctant to mention product in a post because I posted for the scientific information it provides. However, now I do have to declare the commercial interest I have in the product. Distribution in the U.S. should be in place by early November.
As for your sprouting project, don’t let me discourage you because even though you may not obtain the sulforaphane levels you hope for, there are all the other valuable nutrients to be found in freshly-grown sprouts.
As for the clinical effect, much smaller amounts than 1/2 kg fresh sprouts daily will have a beneficial effect on your health and will also help to reduce inflammation in joints, arteries and elsewhere. I objected to the mouse study because it was claiming that cartilage was being rebuilt – this is no mean feat and so they practically drowned the animals in sulforaphane to get that response. We don’t know if humans could rebuild cartilage or not under the same doses but we do know that we can suppress excessive inflammation.
The other difficulty we have in advising on daily amounts of fresh sprouts is that there is a wide variation in the quality of the seeds available; some produce reasonable levels of sulforaphane and others don’t. A consumer has no way of knowing which is which – all the seeds look the same. we measure them in the lab before we sprout them; otherwise, we wouldn’t know either.
Keep in mind too regarding broccoli vegetable, as soon as you cook it – even a light steaming – you have destroyed the myrosinase enzyme and then you cant produce any sulforaphane. That’s why the ones produced for encapsulation must be grown and dried under very controlled conditions and samples sent to the lab at several stages throughout processing. The reason the majority of broccoli sprout products in the U.S. (extracts) don’t produce sulforaphane is because they have destroyed the myrosinase enzyme – but that doesn’t stop them using a lot of false marketing hype to promote them.
I hope that helps! If your husband is looking for more scientific data, I’m happy to chat to him online.
Dear Dr. Houghton, I cannot thank you enough for leaving such an information packed reply! Your discussion of the seeds reminds me of why we have drugs in the first place, to standardize and improve quality and uniformity of the final product. Not all foods, drugs, and supplements are of the same quality! I’m laughing, wondering if my organic seeds from Amazon are going to be good producers!
For any readers, myrosinase is an enzyme that is necessary to convert broccoli’s “natural chemicals” to the final “chemical” which has been found to be so powerfully beneficial (sulforaphane). Although there will be some conversion without the myrosinase, it is not nearly as much–and thus the edge of a product with myrosinase that has not been destroyed by processing. (We do have some naturally occurring myrosinase enzyme in our guts, thanks to our bacterial flora that we must strive to protect by eating properly. But not much compared to the plant.)
I guess we may not be able to attain the sulforaphane levels indicated in the study mentioned? I mean, broccoli all day long would be a bit much, even for this family! Well, no matter. You mention suppression of inflammation, and that is huge. Absolutely huge. For my readers, also, please don’t think of inflammation as just a sprained ankle or red angry sore. It is a combination of cells being activated and releasing “chemicals” to fight either a real or a “presumed” threat to the body. Think things like blocked heart arteries (leading to heart attacks), blocked brain arteries (leading to strokes), autoimmune disorders, osteoarthritis, maybe even major depression, and the list goes on. Bringing down smoldering inflammation levels is important.
I look forward to sharing this information with my husband and checking out your leads. Thank you.
Open-mindedness is key, right? We have to unlearn so much that we have believed for so long!!
Yes. I can’t even say “yes” emphatically enough. Right.
I know this is a pretty old thread, but I’ve been avidly researching broccoli sprouts on the internet this week, hopefully to help with my own arthritis. Very interesting info from you and from Dr. Houghton. Just wanted to add to the discussion that I read a study this week that showed that if you take sulforaphane capsules or broccoli capsules that have the myrosinase deactivated by heat, or if you eat cooked or previously frozen broccoli, which would also have deactivated myrosinase, then eat some mustard seeds or fresh daikon radish along with it. Or do a google search yourself for fresh vegetables that contain myrosinase. There are several. The myrosinase from the daikon radish will still interact with the glucoraphanin in the broccoli or the capsules to form sulforaphane.
Hi, Mylie! Thanks for sharing that tid bit of a pearl! That’s one more tip to check out. So if one incorporates this (cooked broccoli with the daikon or mustard seed–I can envision a Dijon mustard sauce with whole mustard seed? either for the broccoli itself or maybe on the meat you eat with the broccoli), some fresh sprouts on an salad, maybe some broccoli salad, maybe some broccoli slaw– then you have a variety of ways to eat for arthritis and get what we think we need from broccoli to help. Putting food into action in a delicious, practical way! 🙂