Friday, May 10, 2019

A New Treatment for Schizophrenia

Who would have thunk it? Who would have imagined that the key to the treatment of schizophrenia would be found in a chemical occurring naturally in… broccoli.

The story is irresistible. It is not fantasy. It does not come from The Onion. It comes to us from The Daily Mail:

The key to treating schizophrenia may be found in broccoli, research suggests.

Scientists found extracts of the vegetable can tweak chemical imbalances in the brains of people with the condition.

They used the compound sulforaphane, derived from broccoli sprouts, to restore lower levels of glutamate and glutathione.

The chemicals are responsible for sending messages between brain cells that have been linked to schizophrenia.

Experts believe the findings could pave the way for new treatments in the future that don't rely on powerful drugs which come with unwanted side effects.

This comes to us from Johns Hopkins University, thus from a reputable medical source:

They found schizophrenia sufferers had, on average, four per cent lower levels of glutamate in the anterior cingulate cortex region of the brain.

The anterior cingulate cortex plays a role in emotion, impulse control, attention allocation, reward anticipation and decision-making.

Scientists also found those who were mentally ill had, on average, three per cent less glutathione in same region of the brain and eight per cent less in the thalamus.

Glutathione is made of three smaller molecules, and one of them is glutamate.

When they tried the treatment on healthy, non-psychotic volunteers, they found that it increased the levels of glutamate. As of now, they have apparently not conducted a completed study on schizophrenics.

Whatever the case, perhaps there is a reason to eat your vegetables.


Sam L. said...

As a kid, I hated broccoli. Now I eat it, but it's better with cheese!

Anonymous said...

The problem is that glutamate is the single most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, sometimes at the mmol/L level. The variance can be easily 10-20%, so I'm not sure that 3-7% differences will replicate very well. As a disclaimer, I am not a doctor or researcher but rather an analytical chemist.