Helping Schizophrenia and Calming the Brain
According to the World Health Organization, schizophrenia affects about 21 million people in the world. During some research into the subject, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine discovered something that can benefit all of us, not just those predisposed to, or suffering from, schizophrenia.
These researchers started by looking for differences in brain metabolism between people with schizophrenia, and those with healthy brains. In a series of studies (both animal and human), researchers found a set of chemical imbalances in the brains of people with schizophrenia, related to the chemical glutamate. (Glutamate is also known as glutamic acid, and is found in MSG.) They found 4% significantly lower levels of the brain chemical glutamate in the anterior cingulate cortex region of the brain, in people with schizophrenia, compared to healthy people.
Glutamate is used by the body to send messages between brain cells, and, in previous studies, had already been tentatively linked to both depression and schizophrenia. Thus, it was not a great surprise to find that glutamate levels have a major role to play in schizophrenia.
Next, the researchers looked at how glutamate levels might be controlled in the brain, and whether that control system is faulty in those with schizophrenia. Because glutamate is a building block of glutathione, the researchers wondered if the brain might use glutathione as a way to store unnecessary glutamate: thereby preventing it from causing over stimulation in the brain.
When rat brain cells were treated with glutathione, it slowed the speed at which the nerve cells fired, which caused the brain cells to behave less like the pattern found in the brains of those with schizophrenia.
Enter Broccoli Sprouts
After this discovery the researchers looked for a way to affect the levels of glutamate in the brain, and found it in a compound derived from broccoli sprouts: sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is found in the cruciferous vegetables, but is found at the highest levels in broccoli sprouts. It is known to turn on a gene that makes more of an enzyme which converts glutamate into glutathione.
The scientists believe that sulforaphane may, with further research, provide a way to lower the doses of antipsychotic medicines used to manage schizophrenia symptoms. This would allow people to use these medications with less adverse reactions, and/or side effects.
The next level of research is to determine if sulforaphane can safely reduce symptoms of psychosis, or hallucinations, in people with schizophrenia.
In the meantime, one of the authors of the study, Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., went so far as to state, "It's possible that future studies could show sulforaphane to be a safe supplement to give people at risk of developing schizophrenia as a way to prevent, delay or blunt the onset of symptoms." (Source)
Sulforaphane in Healthy Subjects
After this research into glutamate and schizophrenia, the scientists moved on to testing whether sulforaphane could change glutathione levels in healthy people's brains, potentially leading to a strategy for people with other mental disorders.
The researchers monitored three brain regions in human volunteers for glutathione levels, before and after ingesting sulforaphane. After seven days, there was an approximately 30% increase in glutathione levels in the brains of these healthy subjects.
We can all benefit from increasing levels of glutathione in the brain as it can work to prevent anxiety, depression, and neurological degenerative diseases (including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis).
And, of course, anyone with a nervous disorder, ADHD, or any ailment related to overfiring of nerve cells, would benefit from increasing glutathione levels in the brain.
One easy way to increase glutathione levels in the brain is to use a liposomal glutathione product, such as the one from Nutristart. For more information on the wide range of glutathione benefits, and why liposomal glutathione is the most effective way to ingest it (outside of intravenous), follow this link: NutriStart Glutathione