Sunday, 26 October 2014

How to make Sulforaphane (Broccoli) at home

I hope he took his Sulforaphane

This month thousands of runners braved thick smog at the Beijing marathon, with some even donning masks as air pollution soared to 16 times the maximum recommended level.

Johns Hopkins have been trialing their Sulforaphane in China as a therapy to counter the health effects of air pollution.

It was proposed that the potent anti-oxidant and chemoprotective protective properties of Sulforaphane would be a cheap way to protect the health of people living in highly polluted environments.

 or the actual study:-


Broccoli sprouts are a convenient and rich source of the glucosinolate, glucoraphanin, which can generate the chemopreventive agent, sulforaphane, an inducer of glutathione S-transferases (GST) and other cytoprotective enzymes. A broccoli sprout–derived beverage providing daily doses of 600 mmol glucoraphanin and 40 mmol sulforaphane was evaluated for magnitude and duration of pharmacodynamics action in a 12-week randomized clinical trial. Two hundred and ninety-one study participants were recruited from the rural He-He Township, Qidong, in the Yangtze River delta region of China, an area characterized by exposures to substantial levels of airborne pollutants. Exposure to air pollution has been associated with lung cancer and cardiopulmonary diseases. Urinary excretion of the mercapturic acids of the pollutants, benzene, acrolein, and crotonaldehyde, were measured before and during the intervention using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Rapid and sustained, statistically
significant (P _ 0.01) increases in the levels of excretion of the glutathione-derived conjugates of benzene (61%), acrolein (23%), but not crotonaldehyde, were found in those receiving broccoli sprout beverage compared with placebo. Excretion of the benzene-derived mercapturic acid was higher in participants who were GSTT1-positive than in the null genotype, irrespective of study arm assignment.
Measures of sulforaphane metabolites in urine indicated that bioavailability did not decline over the 12-week daily dosing period. Thus, intervention with broccoli sprouts enhances the detoxication of some airborne pollutants and may provide a frugal means to attenuate their associated long-term health risks.

Now this blog is not about pollution, but you might be interested to know that such pollution not only increases cancer risk (plus respiratory diseases, of course) but also increases the incidence of autism.

How to make Sulforaphane at Home

Hopefully you can now see the potential benefits of Sulforaphane.  As I said in the earlier post, twenty years has passed since Johns Hopkins discovered Sulforaphane and there have been numerous studies and experiments done.  What follows is just my synthesis and conclusions of that work.

1.     Eating Broccoli

Broccoli does contain glucosinolate and the required enzyme myrosinase.  If you eat copious amount of raw broccoli or very lightly cooked (steaming for 2 minutes) you will produce Sulforaphane in your body.  The amount required would be literally pounds/kilos each and every day, to come close the therapeutic doses.

Frozen broccoli has no active myrosinase and over-cooked broccoli has no myrosinase.

Clever tricks developed to get round this include:-

·        Eating a small piece of raw broccoli (to provide  myrosinase) with your cooked broccoli
 ·        Adding a tiny amount of daikon radish to frozen broccoli.  This is really a great idea, since only 0.25% Daikon is needed, you get 99.75% broccoli and will never even notice or taste the daikon.  The idea is that this should be done by the food processor when they freeze the broccoli, you would not do anything at home.
Frozen broccoli can provide a cheaper product, with a longer shelf life and less preparation time than fresh broccoli. We previously showed that several commercially available frozen broccoli products do not retain the ability to generate the cancer-preventative agent sulforaphane. We hypothesized that this was because the necessary hydrolyzing enzyme myrosinase was destroyed during blanching, as part of the processing that frozen broccoli undergoes. This study was carried out to determine a way to overcome loss of hydrolyzing activity. Industrial blanching usually aims to inactivate peroxidase, although lipoxygenase plays a greater role in product degradation during frozen storage of broccoli. Blanching at 86 °C or higher inactivated peroxidase, lipoxygenase, and myrosinase. Blanching at 76 °C inactivated 92% of lipoxygenase activity, whereas there was only an 18% loss in myrosinase-dependent sulforaphane formation. We considered that thawing frozen broccoli might disrupt membrane integrity, allowing myrosinase and glucoraphanin to come into contact. Thawing frozen broccoli for 9 h did not support sulforaphane formation unless an exogenous source of myrosinase was added. Thermal stability studies showed that broccoli root, as a source of myrosinase, was not more heat stable than broccoli floret. Daikon radish root supported some sulforaphane formation even when heated at 125 °C for 10 min, a time and temperature comparable to or greater than microwave cooking. Daikon radish (0.25%) added to frozen broccoli that was then allowed to thaw supported sulforaphane formation without any visual alteration to that of untreated broccoli.

2.     Eating Broccoli Sprouts

It was shown that broccoli seeds and broccoli sprouts (5 day old broccoli) contain highly concentrated amounts of glucosinolate and the required enzyme myrosinase.  It is reported to be about 20 times higher in sprouts than full grown broccoli.

Broccoli sprouts are eaten uncooked and so no myrosinase is lost in food preparation.

Following all the Johns Hopkins research and commercialization, in many parts of the world you can readily buy fresh broccoli sprouts, many sold by companies licensed by the company run by the son of the original researcher at John Hopkins.

It was reported that that original lead researcher tries to regularly eat 4oz (120g) a week of broccoli sprouts, which is not so much.

However if you want to achieve the therapeutic doses in the clinical trials this will not be enough.

Trials used between 50 and 150 micromoles of Sulforaphane.

Rather unhelpfully they do not equate this to a measure accessible to lay people. 

If you recall your high school chemistry just go to Wikipedia and look up Sulforaphane:

177.29 g/mol

To convert to grams you just multiply by 177.29.

So the trials used dosages between 8.8 mg and 26.6 mg of sulforaphane.

Most of these trials are in adults and most people reading this blog are interested in treating children, so let’s work with the figure of 8mg of sulforaphane.


Broccoli consumption may reduce the risk of various cancers and many broccoli supplements are now available. The bioavailability and excretion of the mercapturic acid pathway metabolites isothiocyanates after human consumption of broccoli supplements has not been tested. Two important isothiocyanates from broccoli are sulforaphane and erucin. We employed a cross-over study design in which 12 subjects consumed 40 grams of fresh broccoli sprouts followed by a 1 month washout period and then the same 12 subjects consumed 6 pills of a broccoli supplement. As negative controls for isothiocyanate consumption four additional subjects consumed alfalfa sprouts during the first phase and placebo pills during the second. Blood and urine samples were collected for 48 hours during each phase and analyzed for sulforaphane and erucin metabolites using LC-MS/MS. The bioavailability of sulforaphane and erucin is dramatically lower when subjects consume broccoli supplements compared to fresh broccoli sprouts. The peaks in plasma concentrations and urinary excretion were also delayed when subjects consumed the broccoli supplement. GSTP1 polymorphisms did not affect the metabolism or excretion of sulforaphane or erucin. Sulforaphane and erucin are able to interconvert in vivo and this interconversion is consistent within each subject but variable between subjects. This study confirms that consumption of broccoli supplements devoid of myrosinase activity does not produce equivalent plasma concentrations of the bioactive isothiocyanate metabolites compared to broccoli sprouts. This has implications for people who consume the recommended serving size (1 pill) of a broccoli supplement and believe they are getting equivalent doses of isothiocyanates.

Following consumption of 40 g of alfalfa sprouts or 6 placebo pills, no SFN or ERN metabolites were detected in plasma or urine from the four subjects in the control group (Figure 1). In contrast subjects who consumed 40 g of broccoli sprouts (150 and 71 μmoles glucoraphanin and glucoerucin, respectively) or 6 supplement pills (121 and 40 μmoles glucoraphanin and glucoerucin, respectively) had considerable amounts of SFN and ERN metabolites in both plasma and urine.

In 12 hours about 145 micromols of SFN and ERN were excreted in urine.  From the chart it looks likes SFN:ERN is about 2:1.  So assume about 95 micromols of SFN (sulforaphane).

In the following study using frozen sulforaphane made at Johns Hopkins about 85 micromols were excreted in 12 hours 

In the Johns Hopkins trial above the dosage was 800 μmol of glucoraphanin in GRR (the blue lines above) and 150 μmol of sulforaphane in SFR beverages (green lines above). The drugs were mixed with mango juice and water.

We compare the green line with the earlier study and see that 40 g of sprouts is a similar dose to 150 μmol of Johns Hopkins sulforaphane.

Now I did ask Johns Hopkins how many grams of broccoli sprouts yields 50 μmol of Johns Hopkins sulforaphane.  They did reply and said that the level varies among sprouts and so it is impossible to say.

We have seen in this blog, to date, that while nothing is 100% certain in autism or autism therapies, once you have exceeded a certain level of probability, it is worth giving things a try.  If you wait for 100% certainty, you will never move.

So while you will never know exactly how much sulforaphane is in your sprouts, it does look like a fair estimate is 3.8 μmol /g.

So if you want 50 μmol, then you would need to eat about 13g of sprouts a day.

To achieve the adult dose of 150  μmol you would need to eat 40g of sprouts a day.

As a double check compare this to what the original lead researcher is reporting to be taking, for preventative therapy.  He takes 4 oz. a week.  This is 113.4g or 16g a day.

This dose appears not to have harmed him, and he is now 91 years old!

Paul Talalay

Paul Talalay was born in Germany , but emigrated to England with his family in 1933, shortly after the Nazi Party came to power. He was educated at Bedford School and, in 1940, he travelled to the United States to enter Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he majored in biology

Talalay's career has been devoted to cancer research and the achievement of early protection against cell damage. A pioneer in the field of chemoprotective research strategies, Talalay and his colleagues devised simple cell culture methods for detecting phytochemicals which appear to boost enzymes that detoxify carcinogens in the body. This work led to the isolation of sulforaphane, found in broccoli, as a potent inducer of detoxifying phase two enzymes. These findings, published in 1992,  attracted worldwide attention as a major breakthrough in understanding the potential link between cruciferous vegetable consumption and reduced cancer risk.

Since I have no signs of any other Germans appearing on my Dean’s List and there are already plenty of Americans, he goes down as a German.  Nikola Tesla had the same problem, with four countries claiming him as their own (USA, Austria, Croatia and Serbia).

3.     Mixing Daikin Powder with Broccoli Powder

Many people do not like eating broccoli.  I do suggest you try eating it raw; it really is not bad at all, and much better than the soggy, over cooked, variety.

For those preferring powders and pills, the third method involves mixing freeze dried Daikin Radish with freeze dried broccoli.

It turns out that while the myrosinase in broccoli is not heat or cold stable, the daikon radish root is a good source of heat stable myrosinase.  This radish is commonly used in Japan and is available cheaply in freeze dried form.

This is the powder that was proposed to be added to Frozen broccoli, so that it would be a source of sulforaphane.

Broccoli powder is produced in large volumes for the supplement industry, which package it in capsules and sell it on to you.

Why nobody thought of including active myrosinase from daikon radish is beyond me.  It is not expensive.

There appears to be one broccoli supplement that does actually do what it says on the label and produce some  sulforaphane.  Perhaps it includes some Daikin powder ?  It was tested in the US.

That supplement is made in Australia.  It is not cheap.

It is claimed that:-

A 1-gram serve of EnduraCell powder is equivalent to 12 grams of fresh sprouts (with their sulforaphane inhibitors deactivated) and contains 30mg of Glucoraphanin that yields 12 mg Sulforaphane.

Research has shown that generally broccoli supplements do not perform, perhaps this one is different?

4.     Combining Broccoli Sprouts with Broccoli Powder

Since broccoli sprouts, like daikin radish, contains copious amounts of myrosinase, you could also combine fresh broccoli sprouts with broccoli powder.  This has actually been studied in research projects and does work.

Sulforaphane (SF) is a chemopreventive isothiocyanate (ITC) derived from the myrosinase-catalyzed hydrolysis of glucoraphanin, a thioglucoside present in broccoli. Broccoli supplements often contain glucoraphanin but lack myrosinase, putting in question their ability to provide dietary SF. This study compared the relative absorption of SF from air-dried broccoli sprouts rich in myrosinase and a glucoraphanin-rich broccoli powder lacking myrosinase, individually and in combination. Subjects (n=4) each consumed 4 meals consisting of dry cereal and yogurt with 2 g sprouts, 2 g powder, both, or neither. Blood and urine were analyzed for SF metabolites. The 24 h urinary SF recovery was 74%, 49%, and 19% of the dose ingested from broccoli sprouts, combination, and broccoli powder meals, respectively. Urinary and plasma ITC appearance was delayed from the broccoli powder compared to the sprouts and combination. A liver function panel indicated no toxicity from any treatment at 24 h. These data indicate a delayed appearance in plasma and urine of SF from the broccoli powder relative to SF from myrosinase-rich sprouts. Combining broccoli sprouts with the broccoli powder enhanced SF absorption from broccoli powder, offering the potential for development of foods that modify the health impact of broccoli products.


More good news is that when you make sulforaphane in the above fashion, you also make some other interesting substances; one of these is Indole-3-carbinol (I3C).  I3C itself has some extremely interesting properties for both cancer and autism.  I3C up-regulates a protein called PTEN, encoded by the PTEN gene.  PTEN is dysfunctional in autism and, in general terms, may need to be up-regulated.  Indole-3-carbinol is one of the few, safe, known, ways to up-regulate PTEN.  PTEN is also a tumor suppressor gene and so in people with some cancers, up-regulating PTEN will slow cancer progression.

Anyway, it really does look like broccoli may be good for cancer and autism.

Bon Appetit!


  1. One of the first blogs I've read about parents efforts on autism mentioned a juice made of fruits and sprouts as life changing for their kid. I dismissed the notion thinking that for a kid already in a healthy diet this wouldn't matter much. Time to reconsider.


    1. If you have access to fresh sprouts, I think making a fruit/sprout drink is the best option.

  2. Came across this comment on the need to cook broccoli sprouts? Thoughts??

    "Sprouts are up to 50 times richer in the Sulforaphane precursors but they must be cooked!!!
    It's best to cook the sprouts before eating them. Also, after cooking the sprouts, one must add back in some source of the activating enzyme myrosinase such as daikon, radish or mustard.
    The science: Broccoli sprouts contain high levels of glycosinolates that are the metabolic precursor to the very powerful anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory agent called sulforaphane.
    Unfortunately, glycosinolates are metabolized in the wrong direction (towards nitriles instead) in raw broccoli sprouts because of the presence of a cofactor known as ESP (epithiolspecifer protein) thus the sprouts must be heated.
    Unfortunately, such boiling also denatures the enzyme, myrosinase, that is required for the glycosinolates to be metabolized into sulforaphane - this is easily solved by simply adding back in a source of the activating enzyme myrosinase such as daikon, radish or spicy mustard.
    1. Triple the glycosinolate content in sprouts by adding a little (a scant teaspoon of sugar to 200 mL of water) sugar to the rinse water on the second or third day of sprouting.
    2. Take some iodine to counter at the possible goitergenic activities of certain glycosinolates metabolites."

    1. Nicole, read this later post:-

      It answers your points

  3. If you cook them, it rather defeats the purpose. People are eating them raw, just as you eat salad raw. If you are worried they are not sanitary, best to grow your own at home. The other option is freeze dried sprouts plus freeze dried daikon for the enzyme - that is my option.

    1. Google the name of the main researcher, Talalay, and broccoli sprouts and you will see he eats them three times a week with cream cheese in a croissant. No mentioned of cooking or daikon powder.

    2. Also, in one of the studies in this post, they give 40g a day of fresh sprouts and measure the resulting Sulforaphane in the body. So it must work.

  4. I don't see benefits on cooking the sprouts... and the risk in raw sprouts is the same as any other raw salad... I'm buying some sprouts until I have my own production going, but my reasons are flavour and cost (exactly the same for my basilic and other spices I grow).
    The idea to add something to potentialize the sulphoraphane however is good, and if there are things we shouldn't mix with it in order to avoid neutralizing its effect or disrupting bio-availability, it would be good to know.

  5. Regarding the Enduracell product, I encourage you to ask the supplier for proof of potency before purchasing some or assuming it contains what it claims to. When I sought proof I was stonewalled. Read all about it here.

    (You wrote "There appears to be one broccoli supplement that does actually do what it says on the label and produce some sulforaphane. Perhaps it includes some Daikin powder ? It was tested in the US.

    That supplement is made in Australia. It is not cheap.

    It is claimed that:-

    A 1-gram serve of EnduraCell powder is equivalent to 12 grams of fresh sprouts (with their sulforaphane inhibitors deactivated) and contains 30mg of Glucoraphanin that yields 12 mg Sulforaphane.

    Research has shown that generally broccoli supplements do not perform, perhaps this one is different?")

    1. I looked at the Enduracell product and also SuperSprouts, both from Australia and both claiming to produce sulforaphane. I also read some reviews. SuperSprout is actually grown in Australia and if you read the science, you need control over the whole process to end up with sulforaphane. I bought SuperSprouts.

      I also ordered Daikon Radish powder which I assumed I would have to add to the sprouts, to really get some sulforaphane. To my surprise I have not needed the Daikon powder. The supersprouts product is not expensive and one large pack last 3 months.

      I suggested a relative with type1 diabetes try supersprouts and even the tiny dose of 2ml a day reduces his insulin requirement by 10%. So it is not just some green powder that tastes terrible.

      I have ordered more.

  6. Does anyone know where one can get this john hopkins brocolli sprout in australia /sydney please? How would i know how much of the sulforaphane in the sprouts we grow ourselves?

    1. I see this is an old post but if you are still interested, I can advise that EnduraCell yields around 22 mg Sulforaphane per gram of powder or 16 mg per capsule. This is by far the highest we have tested from anywhere. The assays are done in an accredited independent laboratory in the US. On a mg Sulforaphane per gram basis, EnduraCell is much cheaper than the others.

  7. You can use the Australian Supersprouts brand broccoli powder, which works just fine. The amount in the sprouts you grow at home varies greatly, and even depends on how many days old they are. For autism, you only need 2.5ml of the powder.

    1. Thank you. Any idea how much sulforaphane is in 2 ml (?g) of the powder please? I can't find any info on the website.

    2. In the clinical trial they used 50 to 150 micro Mol of sulforophane, i seem to achieves what they achieve using 2.5ml, which is half a teaspoon, of supersprouts. In someone with type 1 diabetes this same dose reduces insulin requirement by 10 percent. Best to contact the producer directly.

  8. I contacted super sprout in Melbourne but they are unable to tell me the amount derived.

  9. interesting article.. i have a question. you suggest to mix freeze dried daikon radish (activ myrosinase) with freeze dried broccoli sprouts. I understad that the daikon radish root is heat stable myrosinase. But i didnt get why freeze dried radish should have more active myrosinase then freeze dried broccoli? since freeze drying is gentle and avoiding heating?

    1. Apparently the myrosinase in daikon radish is heat stable and the myrosinase in broccoli is not. This is going to be done on an industrial scale (adding a tiny amount of Daikon radish to frozen broccoli) so I assume they have verified what is going on.

      I found, in the end, that some broccoli sprout powders do seem to have active myrosinase. Lab testing showed that most do not.

      This is in a later post

    2. The company Caudell Seed,supplied the special high glucoraphanin seed to John's Hopkins for decades for their research.They have a product with both stabilized myrosinase and broccoli seed,One capsule will,convert to 25 mg active sulforaphane,It has been patented and tested,and is very affordable,It's called Vitalica Plus,I get it from e,Bay or

    3. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I thought at John Hopkins they used about 5mg of Sulforapane and Peter even uses 2,5mg. Is there a reason why this product produces 25mg per tablet?
      I've checked the product and they have a free trial offer, you just pay for the shipping.

  10. Peter-
    I apologize if this is a double post, but I'm not sure my original one went through.

    My question is: "How do you administer the broccoli sprout powder?" It has a strong odor, and my son is highly resistant to it.

    I'm thinking maybe filling empty gelcaps with it? But can it be sprinkled on hot food or dissolved in acidic beverages? Or would that break down the beneficial compounds rendering them ineffective?

    1. Pomgenex was formulated for children following the 2014 published Autism study from JHU. PomGenex is a pleasant tasting all natural plant ingredient formula which successfully camouflages the strong taste of the broccoli sprout powder. Each scoop of PomGene contains 1 gram of EnduraCell which delivers around 22 mg of sulforaphane.

  11. Andrew, filling gelcaps is good idea if your son can swallow them. They do sell it in capsules.

    1. I filled a bunch of "size 0" gelcaps last night. Any recommendations on how many to take/frequency?

    2. Andrew, I use 2.5ml of the powder at breakfast time. Your gelcaps are 0.68 ml so you would need 4 caps to give the same dose.

    3. Am I likely to see an effect at a lower dose, say 2 caps?

    4. You can try 2 and see what happens. Things begin to happen after about 30 minutes if he is a responder.

    5. That's what I thought you might say. We started it a few days ago, and I'm not seeing any obvious effects.

      May give it another week just to be sure.

      The post you referenced on reductive stress is fascinating! My son has had a little cold, and it has definitely been affecting behaviors. I started to give him ibuprofen, and my wife stopped me to say that he "always seems to do better on acetaminophen." Perhaps he is one of those rare reductive stress types?

  12. Hello Peter,

    This is not related to sulphorapane but I can't find the thread related to bumetanide availability. I placed an order with a Mexican pharmacy where miccil was cheap but shipping was a bit expensive and the tentative time was more than a month before the drug reaches one in India.

    In the meantime I could find an online pharmacy in Taiwan who would send me burinex. Though the drug itself is a bit costlier, shipping rates are quite reasonable and if what they claim is true, it might reach me in about ten days. I have received a confirmation so let's wait and see.

    Anybody else in India or anywhere else who faces difficulty in accessing bumetanide might try the Mexican or the Taiwanese online pharmacies.

    Another point, I am convinced now that at least 20-30% of cognitive and behavioral issues in my son are related to sleep and digestion, with both impacting each other in a vicious cycle. Stomach gas leads to unsound sleep and nightmares and this interrupted sleep leads to suboptimal bowel movement. Sorry for the vivid description. This is resolved only by a really good motion. Thankfully it does not happen more than once a week, usually Mondays, but when this happens, sleep deprivation drives my son into behaving real crazy with zoned out laughter in response to demand for compliance. So not much learning takes place on these days. These behaviours cannot be missed coz they are so much in your face but I wonder if there might more subtle negative impacts of incomplete sleep and mild digestive issues.

    Have to be proactive in resolving these two issues, especially insuring a good night's sleep.

    1. Kritika-

      Could you share a link to the Taiwanese pharmacy you used?

    2. Andrew,

      Providing you the link but I have not received the drug from them as yet so cannot vouch for its authenticity.


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