If the statistics from Mentalhelp.net are to be considered, it is believed that 1% of the world’s total population has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Around 1.2% of the total American population, which accounts for 3.2 million of the Americans, tends to suffer from this condition. Almost around 1.5 million people across the world are expected to be diagnosed by the end of this year itself.
A new study (R) (R) (R) conducted by the researchers from the John Hopkins Medicine has found a possible cure with the Broccoli sprouts. The researchers have sourced a chemical imbalance concerning glutamate in the brain activity of the patients suffering from schizophrenia and they figured a way to tweak the irregular levels of the same using a compound which was derived from broccoli sprouts.
The researchers believe that the results further boost the hope that supplementing with the broccoli sprout which has high levels of sulphorane in it can help lower the doses of the traditional antipsychotic medicines which are administrated to handle the condition even more so. This is further expected to help reduce the unwanted side effects of the medicines.
Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center further commented stating that it could very well be possible that the future studies could indicate the sulphorane to be a safe supplement given to schizophrenic patients to prevent, delay or get rid of their signs and symptoms for good.
The condition of schizophrenia is often characterized by hallucinations, delusions and feelings and thoughts which are all over the place. The drugs and medications which are used for this mental illness doesn’t technically work all the time or work for every single person. Not just that, the condition even has the possibility of causing varying kinds of side effects including additional metabolic problems and health issues.
In the conducted study, the researchers specifically looked around for difference in the brain metabolism between the people suffering from schizophrenia and healthy people. The study was conducted with 81 recruits from the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center since they suffered from their last episode in 24 months.
Additionally, they also got 91 healthy control subjects to base their comparisons around. The participants in the subject were in between an average age of 22 years old out of which 58% were men.
The researchers used a very potent and powerful magnet to assess five regions in the brain between the people suffering with or without any kind of psychosis. A computer analysis of 7-Tesla magnetic resonance spectroscopy was the one responsible for identifying the individual chemical metabolites along with their quantities.
Upon analysis, the researcher recorded a 4% lowered levels of the brain chemical glutamate in and around the anterior cingulate cortex region of the brain in people suffering from psychosis in comparison to the healthy people.
The role of glutamate in the brain and nervous functions in the body is quite important. It is responsible for helping sending messages in between the brain cells and has even been linked to depression and schizophrenia. Thus, these findings do prove out to be important evidence that it plays in the condition of schizophrenia.
On top of that, the researchers also found a reduced rate of Glutathione by 3% in the anterior cingulated cortex in the brain along with around 8% in the thalamus. Glutathione is made of three smaller molecules, out of which, glutamate is one.
Following these findings, the researchers wanted to trace the ways in which glutamate can be managed effectively or if the same is faulty because of the disease. To find the same, they looked into how glutamate is stored. The next question that irked in the minds of the researchers was whether the brain was using glutathione to store glutamate.
If that was the case, the researchers wanted to see if there could be drugs that help in shifting the storage process and base it around the requirements. They wanted to see if the drugs could promote release of glutamate when the levels are high or store more if the levels are low.
In another study conducted, the team of researchers used the drug L-Buthionine sulfoximine in the rats to block a specific enzyme that was responsible for turning the glutamate into glutathione. Upon doing so, they found that the nerve cells were more excited and ended up firing faster which meant that they were sending more messages to the other brain cells.
Following that, the next thing the researchers wanted to see is whether they could opposite and then shift the balance to ensure better storage of the glutamate in the form of glutathione. For this, they used broccoli sprouts which turns on an enzyme responsible for helping the conversion all the more.
Treating the rat’s brain with glutathione slowed down the speed at which the nerve cells fired which meant that they were sending fewer messages. This is what in turn made the brain less susceptible to the patterns of schizophrenia that several often tend to struggle with.
Thomas Sedlak, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences said that they are imagining the glutathione as glutamate stored in a gas tank. If the gas tank is bigger, it provides with a much more leeway on how far one can drive. The same is with the condition of schizophrenia; they just have a smaller gas tank.
Owing to the impacts of sulforaphane and how it relayed messages in the brain, the researchers next wanted to find out whether the compound could be able to change the glutathione levels in the brain of the healthy people.
For finding this out, the researchers recruited nine healthy volunteers who were given two capsules with 100 micromoles of sulphorane in the form of broccoli sprout extract consistently for a week.
Following that, the researchers again used the technique of MRS to check the three brain regions. They found that after a week, there was a rampant rise in the levels of glutathione by 30% in the subject’s brain.
With all this, the researchers are still not a 100% sure about the potent benefits of this compound. According to them, for the results of schizophrenia to subside and to fight through, there needs to be more research done with sulforaphane. This compound is very easily accessible, making it a good option if it does turn out to be a perfect match to manage psychosis and the accessory.