May 7, 2019
By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph.
Not everybody can appreciate the flavour of broccoli, but it is hard to deny how healthy this vegetable is for us. Consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and radish have been inversely associated with various types of cancer. This can be attributed to the phytochemical sulforaphane, a sulfur-containing isothiocyanate. There is preliminary research suggesting that sulforaphane plays a role in increasing the action of Phase 2 enzymes, which are responsible for inactivating many carcinogens. It may also inhibit the activity of certain Phase 1 enzymes that could increase the carcinogenic activity of some substances.
What is exciting is that sulforaphane can also have profound effects on the skin when applied topically. In-vitro experiments looking at the effect of applying sulforaphane topically to skin that has been exposed to UV radiation (UVR) have shown it to be effective at reducing redness and inflammation that was induced by this UVR exposure. Researchers found that this benefit was not due to free-radical quenching or UVR absorption as has been seen with other phytonutrients (such as vitamin E or green tea extract). Rather, sulforaphane acts to increase the transcription and thus the synthesis of proteins, mostly enzymes resulting in a lasting effect, i.e., the benefit of the topical product will not be “washed away” once the sulforaphane is absorbed. Sulforaphane has also been shown to affect keratin biosynthesis, which suggests that it affects the integrity of the skin.
Newco, a Canadian company has developed a line of skin care products called BroccoFusion™ that employs the use of sulforaphane. The lotions can be used to relieve sunburn, heal burns and skin irritations, reduce hyperpigmentation (eg. age spots), help with stretch marks and acne as well as protect and repair U.V. radiation damage. The ointment contains a higher concentration of sulforaphane and can reduce and possibly eliminate hyperpigmentation, treat skin tags, lessen scars (from chicken pox, shingles, cold sores, and cysts) and moles, help heal cracked skin resulting from chemotherapy treatment, minimize stretch marks, help treat psoriasis and eczema, lighten dark undereye circles, and may even help with diabetic neuropathy in the feet.
For more severe skin conditions or for quicker benefits, this phytonutrient is also available in capsule form for oral use. In addition to its potential benefits in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, sulforaphane may also help reduce hypertension and atherosclerosis. There is also preliminary research into the benefits of sulforaphane and its effects on maintaining the integrity of the blood-brain barrier following cortical contusion injury as well as its effects on improving symptoms associated with autism.
Of course, we should not forget the importance of using sunscreen or covering up to protect our skin from UV radiation. If you are considering using sulphoraphane, always remember to check with your doctor or pharmacist prior to using any supplement to ensure their safe use.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-owned and operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore.
***All information posted and shared by Cloverdale Pharmasave is offered to provide information and choices regarding nutritional support for various health concerns, none of which is intended to be a treatment protocol for any disease state. The information does not replace seeking professional advice from your physician. Consult your health care practitioner before taking dietary supplements.
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