Sulforaphane was isolated in 1992 by Paul Talalay of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. It is the main isothiocyanate from broccoli.

A number of in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies have revealed interesting properties of sulforaphane, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, as well as cell level protection.

These qualities mean sulforaphane can contribute to proper functioning of the prostate.

What is sulforaphane ?

Sulforaphane belongs to the family of isothiocyanates. The latter are produced by hydrolysis of the glucosinolates by enzymes present in cruciferous vegetables, in particular. There are over 120 different types of glucosinolates. In broccoli, the main glucosinolate is glucoraphanin.

Glucoraphanin is biologically inactive. It is only when food undergoes a physical transformation (chopped, crushed, chewed) that it is liberated and comes into contact with an endogenous enzyme of the plant, myrosinase. Glucoraphanin is then converted into sulforaphane, a powerful molecule that is absorbed into the blood.

Glucoraphanin levels vary enormously depending both on the species of cabbage and variety. Broccoli is known as being the richest in glucoraphanin and, therefore, in sulforaphane. Its level is of the order of 1 to 100mg/100g.

Mechanism of action of sulforaphane

A subject of scientific research for over 20 years, sulforaphane, the active ingredient of broccoli, is a powerful natural substance which is recognized for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cell level protective qualities, all of which can help to keep your prostate healthy.

  • Antioxidant

Sulforaphane is an indirect antioxidant Although it does not itself neutralize free radicals (responsible for the aging of cells), it activates protective mechanisms.

  • Anti-inflammatory

Sulforaphane helps the body to eliminate potentially inflammatory compounds. It can help regulate the transcription factor NF-κB, which influences pro-inflammatory gene expression.

  • Cell level protection

Sulforaphane is known to contribute to regulation of certain changes in gene activity. For example, it inhibits histone deacetylase (HDAC), a family of enzymes involved in regulation of gene expression. It activates genes which regulate cell growth and thus restores proper cell function.

Overall, the number and variety of mechanisms of action (MOA) of sulforaphane has led researchers to study its activity in a number of areas beyond prostate health.

Bioavailability of sulforaphane

Sulforaphane occurs naturally in its precursor form – glucoraphanin (or “sulforaphane glucosinolate”) in cruciferous vegetables in.

Ingesting glucoraphanin requires the action of myrosinase (by hydrolyse) to convert into “free” sulforaphane- a bioactive molecule.


This hydrolysis mechanism occurs when the food containing glucoraphanin is chopped, chewed or comes into contact with the bacterial flora in the intestines.

However, myrosinase is temperature sensitive and ispresent in varying quantities in the plant and organism.

Merely ingesting broccoli cannot guarantee an efficient and constant concentration of sulforaphane in the organism because the quantity of sulforaphane ingested varies in relation to the quality of broccoli consumed, how it is cooked and the hydrolysis produced in the intestinal flora, which differs from person to person.

Studies have shown that the storage, cooking and freezing of broccoli causes a decrease in its capacity to create sulforaphane. When subjected to thermal treatment (during cooking or freezing), myrosinase becomes degraded, which limits the freeing up of sulforaphane.

Indeed, even if one ate 200g of uncooked broccoli a day and chewed it properly well, one would still not be sure of absorbing a sufficient enough amount of sulforaphane.

Indeed, the only effective way of controlling the amount of active sulforaphane and ensuring optimum availability is in its free form.

But its free form is highly unstable, veryreactive and deteriorates within a few days at room temperature.

The Nutrinov laboratory has succeeded in stabilising natural sulforaphane using an innovative encapsulation procedure encapsulation. The procedure is subject to several patents.

The stabilised free form guarantees a constant dosage and optimum bio-availability in the organism.