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What Is Sulforaphane?

And Why Should You Care - The Most Complete Guide To Sulforaphane Ever Written For Humans
What Is Sulforaphane? In this article you will learn about the Gene-Activating Superstar that is  Sulforaphane. You will learn how it was discovered, how it is used in the body, how it impacts the Nrf2 pathway, why you should care and how it is of benefit to top athletes, as well as anyone trying to get an edge on the day.

We have something for the geeks (like us), there is something for those that just want quick answers, as well as lots of references for you to dig even deeper into this amazing compound.

You can use the handy Table Of Contents and skip to the part that most interests you, or you can get a cup of coffee (with mushrooms in it, of course, we're not savages) and get strapped in for this EPIC Sulforaphane Guide.
But First a SHORT Medical Disclaimer: For the FULL Medical Disclaimer please go here.
We are not doctors. We are not prescribing a course of treatment. We make no claims that you will have the same results from out product that the cited researchers have achieved in their studies (in most cases our doses are higher). This article is for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor before embarking on any treatment protocol.
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Sulforophane Info Bite

Sulforaphane is phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
Sulforaphane is 20X more potent in sprouts than it is in the mature plant
SFN is one of the most exciting recent discoveries in the field of chemo protection
• Glucoraphanin (precursor) + Myrosinase (enzyme) = Sulforaphane
• Just eating broccoli sprouts is not enough (more on that later)

What Is Sulforaphane?

Sulforaphane (SFN) is a type of mustard oil and belongs to a group of phytochemicals called isothiocyanates which have been studied extensively and have many remarkable properties. One of the most abundant natural sources are cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli sprouts.

It derives it's name from the sulfur atoms (colored yellow in the picture).
Chemmical Structure of Sulforaphane Molecule

The Geeky Stuff

for 1-isothiocyanato-4-methylsulphinylbutane Nerds
Sulforaphane is a phytochemical one of the “isothiocyanate” molecules found in broccoli.

Sulforaphane is produced when Glucoraphanin a precursor (coming before Sulforaphane), mixes with enzyme Myrosinase during the act of chewing which allows the two compounds to mix and react.

The mechanism of this phytochemical production from its precursor is similar to that of chewing a radish. When you first bite into a radish it can be cool and almost sweet, but within 30 seconds you will feel a burning feeling in your mouth, this is a very similar process of how Sulforaphane is produced. (It is called Glucoraphanin in radishes).
During The Act Of Chewing Which Allows The Two Compounds To Mix And React.

Is Highly Reactive And Not At All Stable.
Glucoraphanin Molecule image
Glucoraphanin is a bigger molecule and is very stable.
The enzyme necessary for the reaction is stored on the outside of the plant and the precursors are stored in the vacuoles on the inside of the plant, they do not come into contact until the cell walls are damaged, so those cells then release their Glucoraphanin and the enzyme that's present at the same site hydrolyzes Glucoraphanin and forms sulforaphane.
This is a protection mechanism used by plants against insects, the mustard-like oil is very unpleasant, and in some cases, lethal to insects. However, lucky for us it has the opposite effect on people.

Young sprouts of broccoli and cauliflower are particularly rich in glucoraphanin. Glucoraphanin, the glucosinolate precursor to Sulforaphane.

What other names is Sulforaphane known by?

4-methylsulphinylbutyl glucosinolate
sulforaphane, (R)-

Here are also some Depositor-Supplied Synonyms (we told you this was THE definitive article)
Sulforaphane Racemate
Sulforaphane (unspecified)
Butane, 1-isothiocyanato-4-(methylsulfinyl)-
CCRIS 7221
4-(Methylsulfinyl)Butyl Isothiocyanate
Sulforaphane Extract
Broccoli sprout extracts
Butane, 1-isothiocyanato-4-((S)-methylsulfinyl)-
Butane, 1-isothiocyanato-4-[(S)-methylsulfinyl]-
4-methylsulphinylbutyl glucosinolate
Sulforaphane, (S)-
4-Methylsulfinyl butyl isothiocyanate
4-isothiocyanatobutyl methyl sulfoxide
1-Isothiocyanato-4-(methylsulfinyl)butane #
DL-Sulforaphane, >=90% (HPLC), synthetic, liquid
Butane, 1-isothiocyanato-4-(methylsulfinyl)-, (S)-
(R)-Sulforaphane;(-)-Sulforaphane;4-Methylsulfinylbutyl isothiocyanate 

Sulforaphane | C6H11NOS2 -

History Of Sulforaphane

Sulforaphane Info Bite

• Dr.Paul Talalay discovered the compound in the 1990s
Dr.Talalay was associated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
When ingested, sulforaphane binds to a protein inside cells, increasing the production of enzymes that help cells resist toxic substances and oxidative stress
Dr.Paul Talalay with Broccoli Sprouts
1New York Times article featuring Broccoli and Sulfurophane

Who Discovered Sulforaphane?

Dr. Paul Talalay spearheaded research in the 1990s that identified the cancer-preventing properties of a compound found in broccoli. (Family photo) from article Paul Talalay, researcher who found cancer-preventing qualities in broccoli, dies at 95
The Washington Post

Dr.Paul Talalay, a pharmacologist who spearheaded research in the 1990s that identified the cancer-preventing properties of a compound found in broccoli, a discovery that was credited with bringing new scientific attention to ways of combating cancer before it takes hold

Dr. Talalay, who was long associated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, spent the first decades of his career as an enzymologist, focused in particular on the proteins that interact with testosterone.

Dr. Talalay oversaw research that in the 1990s revealed intriguing qualities of sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli and in even greater quantities in broccoli sprouts. When ingested, sulforaphane binds to a protein inside cells, said Philip A. Cole, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a former student of Dr. Talalay’s. That event sparks the increased production of enzymes that help cells resist toxic substances, including carcinogens.

Consuming broccoli and other vegetables including kale and watercress helps the body create what Cole described as a “molecular defence” against “environmental insults” that might lead to the formation of a cancer cell.

Talalay directs the Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins, which in 1992 discovered the health-promoting properties of sulforaphane glucosinolate, the cancer-fighting chemical abundant in the pungent Brassica family of vegetables. The lab's findings were splashed on the front page of The New York Times and hailed as one of the top 100 scientific discoveries of the 20th century by Popular Mechanics. 

How was Sulforaphane discovered?

Prevention not Cure

Sulforaphane Info Bite

Dr.Talalay theorised that " certain substances could block carcinogens if we could isolate these substances"
They found that broccoli and some other vegetables were able to "up-regulate" / boost the functions of human proteins that neutralise the processes of disease.
• Dr.Talalay's findings were originally rejected for publication by Science magazine, but since then the number of published studies and clinical trials involving the substance jumped from a handful in 1990 to 155 in 2006, now there are 2 or 3 papers per week coming out about SFN.
He Quickly Realised That Fighting An Established Tumor Is Much Harder Than Preventing It.
When Dr.Talalay was a young man he realised that all cancer comes from just one rogue cancer cell that multiplies in an unregulated fashion until the apoptosis mechanism is disrupted and eventually cell death occurs.

He quickly realised that fighting an established tumor is MUCH harder than PREVENTING it. So he focused on the field of CHEMO PROTECTION (removing the environmental factors which lead to the formation of the tumour in the first place).

A small group of scientists were given a grant to study plants, as they have developed a range of cytoprotective mechanisms and compounds against environmental factors and pollutants over the years.

Humans consume as many as 10,000 of these compounds when we eat our veggies. Talalay's lab decided to find out which of these gave the greatest protection.

The researchers initially focused on glucosinolates, substances that are particularly abundant in cruciferous vegetables and are turned by enzymes and intestinal bacteria into isothiocyanates an anticarcinogen (chemicals that block the development of cancer cells).
Fate smiled on them in 1991 when Talalay sent one of his assistants to the grocery store and he came back with a dozen vegetables.

They quickly found that broccoli among with a few other vegetables were particularly high in SFN and that this substance could boost the functions of human proteins that neutralise the processes of disease.

Typically, such enzymes work at about 40 percent of their disease-preventing capacity. Sulforaphane kicks them up a notch. Experiments with rats confirmed the function of those cytoprotective proteins and sulforaphane's ability to make them stronger.

Not surprisingly, given the ongoing doubts about cancer and prevention, the resulting paper that Talalay wrote with three others, including Gary H. Posner, a professor of chemistry in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, on the molecular structure of sulforaphane, was refused by Science magazine. (It was eventually published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 1992.) Since then Sulforaphane has been studies in relation to Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Brain Injury, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Bladder cancer, to name a few.

Despite the initial skepticism the paper engendered, the findings of Talalay et al. touched off a mini-explosion of research into the disease-fighting power of sulforaphane. The number of published studies involving the substance jumped from a handful in 1990 to 155 in 2006. Now there are 2 or 3 papers per week!

As of now sulforaphane is among the most potent naturally-occurring inducers of cytoprotective enzymes known to science.

As Of Now Sulforaphane Is Among The Most Potent Naturally-Occurring Inducers Of Cytoprotective Enzymes Known To Science.

How does Sulforaphane work?

Inflammation, Detoxification, Preventing Oxidation

Sulforaphane Info Bite

Sulforaphane works on 3 primary cell defence mechanisms detoxification, preventing oxidation, inhibiting inflammation.
Sulforaphane turns on our cells defence mechanisms; it does this by activating Nrf2 and down-regulating NF-kB
Nrf2 A protein that is a master regulator of antioxidant gene expression. It is responsible for 3-5% of ALL gene activity!
When activated by Sulforaphane the Nrf2 protein moves into the nucleus of the cell and switches on these 200 or so genes all at once, the master regulating switch.
Sulforaphane increases Nrf2 activity by up to 60%!
Sulforaphane has many functions and many mechanisms by which it acts upon the body, but the main mechanism that we will look at is the Nrf2 pathway.
Sulforaphane has many functions and many mechanisms by which it acts upon the body, but the main mechanism that we will look at is the Nrf2 pathway.

Sulforaphane is the most potent dietary activator of the Nrf2 pathway.
Nrf2 Signaling and the Slowed Aging Phenotype Evidence from Long Lived Models
Sulforaphane has been found to increase Nrf2 activity by up to 60%
Nrf2 is activated naturally every 129 min.
With the presence of Sulforaphane that time decreases to 80min (so it's activated more often, giving you all of the health boosting effects).
Frequency Modulated Translocational Oscillations of Nrf2 Mediate the Antioxidant Response Element Cytoprotective Transcriptional Response
This overall pathway has numerous functions in a cell but, to break it down simply, it helps with oxidation, inflammation and detoxification.

Tom Kensler and Paul Talalay, Albena Dinkova-Kostova all at Hopkins, Masi Yamamoto in Japan, John Hayes in England and a few other key researchers put this pathway on the map.
Nrf2 pathway controls between 3% and 5% of all our cellular

Sulforaphane is still probably the most potent activator of Nrf2 to be found in the natural world.

( More on this later )
Nrf2 pathway controls between 3% and 5% of all our cellular

Which Foods Contain Sulforaphane?

Why is eating broccoli sprouts not enough?

Sulforaphane Info Bite

Cruciferous veggies are high in SFN
Sprout levels are even higher than in mature plant.
Moringa plant is a tropical relative of Broccoli and contains significant levels of SFN
Sulforaphane is found in cruciferous veggies including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, bok choy, kohlrabi, turnip, collards, arugula, watercress, radish, and also mustard greens.

The Moringa plant is a tropical relative of Broccoli and has been studied in a similar fashion where broccoli sprouts are harder to grow.

Apart from the broccoli seeds, Broccoli sprouts have the greatest determined concentration of sulforaphane found in a natural source.
But just Eating Broccoli Sprouts Is Not Enough!

The Problem With Sulforaphane

To make Sulforophane you need two ingredients - it's precursor (Glucoraphanin) and an Enzyme (Myrosinase). Getting a consistent dose of each has it's own problems.

Sulforaphane Info Bite

Broccoli sprout seeds also have huge variations in SFN yield.
An Enzyme like Myrosinase is required for optimal SFN production.
BROC ON solves all of the above problems. Find out how below.

The Glucoraphanin Problem


Inconsistent yields

Dr.Paul Talalay (the Grandfather of SFN) approached Jed Fahey in 1993 who came from a plant biotechnology background with the hope of getting more Sulforaphane from broccoli.

"Quickly, it became obvious that it was very difficult to predict how much sulforaphane a broccoli plant would have based on things like smell, touch, color and you pretty much had to run it through an HPLC (mass spectrometry analyzer) to measure levels of sulforaphane." Dr.Jed Fahey

When Dr. Jed Fahey first began experimenting with Broccoli, they tested different broccoli batches and found that the chemical structure and active ingredient present could vary by a factor of 10!

This meant that simply eating broccoli was not the answer.


They switched to sprouting broccoli

They then switched to sprouting broccoli and made the serendipitous discovery that Broccoli sprouts were even higher in SFN than the mature plant

Talalay and Fahey also showed that broccoli sprouts — three- to four-day-old broccoli plants — have 50 to 100 times the cancer-fighting power as the mature stalks typically sold in grocery stores.

However, different seeds still have different Glucoraphanin yields, and so, special seeds were cultivated giving researches the highest, most consistent yields.

The BROC ON Solution

BROC ON has an exclusive proprietary blend and rights to hybrid high yielding seeds developed over 15 years, ensuring high Enzyme and Sulforaphane pre cursor yield.

The Myrosinase Problem

Myrosinase (an Enzyme) is heat sensitive. This means that if you cook your broccoli, the enzymes are inactivated and you cannot convert Glucoraphanin to Sulforaphane.
If you denature the enzymes in the vegetables you then have to rely on your gut bacteria to supply the enzyme. Fahey found that there were huge variations when they conducted a trial with 100 participants.

They gave each participant one dose of Glucoraphanin and found that when they measured excreted Sulforaphane output or its Bioavailability, through the urine 24 hours later, that the mean was about 10%, but had variations up to 70%.
But when they gave participants straight Sulforaphane the bioavailable amount in the urine moved up to a mean of 30-40%.

So if you take only Glucoraphanin without an enzyme, your conversions can go as low as 10%.

In another clinical trial, Fahey found that if the participants had intestinal issues or had been on a course of anti-biotics or pre-op surgery medication, that conversion rate can go down to zero.
So if you take only Glucoraphanin without an enzyme, your conversions can go as low as 10%
Human Metabolism and Excretion of Cancer Chemoprotective Glucosinolates and Isothiocyanates of Cruciferous Vegetables study
no enzymes. no Sulforaphane.

Myrosinase sources are not created equal.
"So all the cruciferous vegetables do have myrosinase.

Many of them have these other accessory proteins or additional enzymes that will direct the conversion of glucosinolates not just to isothiocyanates, but to some other stuff. Essentially wasting the glucosinolates.

Daikon doesn't have a lot of the compounds that waste glucosinolates in their conversion to isothiocyanates. Therefore daikon enzymes are the best."

-Dr.Jed Fahey
Glucosinolate Unstable Intermediate
Glucosinolate Unstable Intermediate
Freezing at 20°C and 40°C resulted in the formation of more sulforaphane and a decrease in the formation of the alternative product
Getting consistent doses of enzymes in your dietary supplement is also an issue.
Most good quality probiotics, which contain enzymes, need to be refrigerated and therefore are not favoured among health food stockists or consumers.

Many ,so called, probiotics on the market actually contain a lot of garbage and dead bacteria.
Freezing sprouts is also problematic, because as the sprouts expand (during freezing) the cell walls are broken (therefore wasting the Myrosinase, because the Sulforaphane gets released and wasted before it is consumed.
Powdering An Enzyme Involves Heating, Which Destroys The Enzyme.

The BROC ON Solution

We also use Daikon Sprouts along side with the Broccoli Sprouts for maximum results.

We dehydrate them VEEEERY slowly, therefore preserving the enzyme activity.

German Designed Delivery System


Always Analyzed

The seed is always analysed in the Australian laboratory using HPLC analysis for maximum bioactive identification and only that seed is used to produce the final BROC ON product in the Australian plant.

BROC ON's seeds are grown and sprouted to release the maximum of these bioactives necessary for human health, all under international HACCP license, in Australian environmental growing chambers that continually monitor temperature, humidity, 24 hour pulsed daylight.

Hydro-Organically Grown

The sprouts are grown hydro organically, without the need for harmful herbicides or pesticides to manage bacteria and fungus.

BROC ON harvests every 3 days to achieve the right bio chemical levels when the enzymes and precursors are at their highest.

Consistent Serving Size

The BROC ON German designed sealed cap Delivery System or our Australian packed sachets, ensures consistent freshness, no need for fillers and a consistent 3 gram serving size.

What is the NRF2 pathway?

Sulforaphane Info Bite

One of the main mechanisms by which Sulforaphane does it's magic is the NRF2 pathway
NRF2 is a "zipper protein" which helps regulate the expression /activates antioxidant proteins.
The NRF2 pathway helps with metabolism, inflammation and detoxification.
Sulforaphane inhibits the Nfkb pathway, which is one of the main inflammatory pathways

Geek Speak

Mechanism of phase 2 response regulation
Mechanism of phase 2 response regulation
Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2), also known as nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2, is a transcription factor that in humans is encoded by the NFE2L2 gene.

NRF2 is a basic leucine zipper (bZIP) protein that regulates the expression of antioxidant proteins that protect against oxidative damage triggered by injury and inflammation.

NRF2 lies at the center of a complex regulatory network and performs pleiotropic vital role in the regulation of metabolism, inflammation, autophagy, proteostasis, mitochondrial physiology, and immune responses
the NRF2 pathway helps with  inflammation, detoxification and Oxidative Stress

Oxidative Stress

NRF2 is a protein that is a master regulator of antioxidant gene expression.
We now know that our genes and the subsequent function they can control can be turned up or down. So, imagine if there was a protein that new all the genes that needed to be turned on at once to help our cells protect themselves against oxidative stress.

Well this is Nrf2, when activated by Sulforaphane the Nrf2 protein moves into the nucleus of the cell and switches on these 200 or so genes all at once, the master regulating switch.
switches on these 200 or so genes all at once!


The function of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury,
Inflammation: part of the complex biological response of our body tissues to harmful stimuli, pathogens, damaged cells, toxicity, irritants etc.

The function of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out dead and damaged cells from the original insult and the inflammatory process.

That is the positive side of inflammation but unfortunately this process can keep on going and result in chronic inflammation. 

Chronic Inflammation is the driver of many diseases.
Chronic Inflammation is the driver of many diseases.

How is Sulforaphane Anti-inflammatory?

The Power of inhibiting NF-kB
A protein that turns on the genes which promote inflammation, also linked with tumour cell growth, proliferation, angiogenesis, invasion and survival.

NF-kB is another master switch, this time the switch turns on our inflammatory pathways and when inflammation becomes chronic the switch can get stuck in the on position.
Sulforaphane is a known inhibitor / blocker of NF-kB.

BROC ON gives us a clinically potent and effective amount of Sulforaphane per serve.

With this one shot we can activate Nrf2 and inhibit NF-kB effectively giving us a totally natural, scientifically proven way to work with our own genes to encourage optimal function and health at a cellular level through
BROC ON gives us a clinically potent and effective amount of Sulforaphane per serve.

Inflammation and Depression

Inflammation plays a major role in depression
The Role of Cytokines in the Pathophysiology of Major DepressionResearch report Sulforaphane produces antidepressantSulforaphane reversed the chronic stress induced increase of serum levels of CORT ACTH IL 6 and TNF a
In animal studies Sulforaphane has been shown to be as good as fluoxeitine (Prozac)!

Brain Inflammation

Many clinical trials show that inflammation is a huge component in schizophrenia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Alzheimer's, Progeria and many other Chronic Diseases.
Researchers are testing if Sulforaphane can help with these conditions due to its anti inflammatory effects.
Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder ASDSulforaphane protects against cytokine and streptozotocin induced 3 cell damage by suppressing the NF KB pathway
Fahey states that researchers also discovered some interesting effects on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder through something called the Heat Shock Response.
"Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs) A special class of proteins that help other proteins maintain their proper shape and are known to be robustly increased by heat stress, but also are expressed as a response to other various cellular stressors as well. Genetic variation that increases the expression of heat shock proteins have been found to be associated with human longevity. In lower organisms, heat shock has also been shown to actually confer longevity. Finally, animal studies also suggest that heat shock proteins play a role in preventing the build-up of amyloid beta plaques that play a role in Alzheimer's disease and brain aging."
Dr.Rhonda Patrick
Sulforaphane Activates Heat Shock Response and Enhances Proteasome Activity through Up regulation of Hsp27
The heat shock response is something that has been noticed in children with Autism who go through a fever. Their Autism symptoms are severely diminished and sometimes reversed immediately after the heat response a body naturally goes through during the fever.
Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder ASD 1
In several clinical trials the cognitive effects of Autism were measured and tested and shown to have significantly been reduced after treatment with Sulforaphane.

Sulforaphane activates this Heat Shock Response pathway.
Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder
Sulforaphane inhibits the Nfkb pathway, which is one of the main inflammatory pathways

Sulforaphane and Schizophrenia

This is the first report to show that heat shock response by sulforaphane in addition to the antioxidant response mediated by the Keapl Nrf2 pathway may contribute to cytoprotectionAn Open Study of Sulforaphane rich Broccoli Sprout Extract in Patients with Schizophrenia
SFN can be neuro-protective in diseases with Protein aggregation is when proteins accumulate inside the cell, mis-forming and mis-shaping the cell and causing neuroinflammation.


Detoxification is a fundamental process of all of our cells. It is a built in defence mechanism needed to handle the end products of making energy, cellular processes and also toxins from outside of us that end up in our cells.
When these toxins are not dealt with our cells become less functional, it is difficult for them to make energy and if there is enough toxin overload they can become sick and even die.

Whether it is in your water or the air you breathe, pollution is everywhere. Even if you are healthy and don't smoke, if you live in a big city you are likely suffering from the effects of pollution.
Your ability to remove pollution from your body directly corresponds to your levels of health.

How do our cells detoxify?

The cells of our body have built in antioxidants. The major antioxidants that Sulforaphane activates that are critical for detoxification are:


An extremely important antioxidant capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides and heavy metals.

Quinone Reductase

Significant detoxifier of carcinogens and a key enzyme in Oestrogen detoxification


Plays an important role in the protection against metal toxicity and oxidative stress and is involved in zinc and copper regulation.

Metallothionein’s have the capacity to bind cadmium, mercury, silver, arsenic and copper.

A Chinese clinical trial showed that Sulforaphane dramatically increases the excretion of benzene (a ubiquitous chemical found in petrol and air pollution) from the cells by up to 61%.
Rapid and Sustainable Detoxication of Airborne Pollutants by Broccoli Sprout Beverage Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in China
Sulforaphane dramatically increases the excretion of benzene from the cells by up to 61%.

Does Sulforaphane have any known side effects?

Sulforaphane has no known side effects, although people taking prescription drugs should check with their physician before dramatically increasing their intake of sulforaphane. *Talk with your health care provider before starting any supplement regimen.

Who is BROC ON for?

Anyone looking to Optimise, Maximise, Improve and Enhance their body
We commonly speak to people having great results utilising BROC ON daily with many conditions, also with athletes and other high performers looking to optimize their bodies for enhanced function and recovery.

How Many BROC ON To Take?

Most people go well on one shot per day.

If they have more going on with your body, then they can take one BROC ON twice a day. 

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