Sulforaphane Benefits for Immunity, Cancer, and Anti-Aging With BrocElite


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Katie: Hello and welcome to the “Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com, that’s “wellnesse” with an E on the end, my new line of personal care products that are as effective as conventional without all the junk. Right now, we have hair care, toothpaste, and now hand sanitizer.

In this podcast episode, we go deep on a topic that was really helpful to me in my initial recovery from autoimmune disease. So years ago, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, one of the things my doctor recommended was that I start incorporating broccoli sprouts into my life. And when I started doing that, I started researching, and I found out that broccoli sprouts specifically contain a compound called sulforaphane. And this led to a years-long research journey for me about what this is and why it was beneficial. And my doctor recommended it because I had nodules on my thyroid and it was part of kind of a protective protocol to deal with that. What really astounded me about this molecule, and it’s something I’ve incorporated into my life and my family’s life ever since, it’s also something that was not bioavailable via supplement form until very recently, which is why this podcast is so timely.

I’m here with David Roberts, who has a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins with a focus on epidemiology and international health, as well as a master’s in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s in electrical and biomedical engineering from Duke. He also has more than 20 years of experience working in quantitative research and he’s done public health work on 3 continents. He has a fascinating perspective on what’s going on right now and he has spearheaded research to assess the impact of things like HIV prevention, education programs in various countries, and has been involved in research kind of across the world. Really incredible guy.

And the reason I wanted to have him on today is because he has helped bring a supplement called BrocElite to market. He has a really incredible personal story about how this came about and an amazing scientific story of how they were able to standardize and make this bioavailable in the form of a supplement. Because this is something that has not historically been shelf-stable, and even when it’s been available in compounds like broccoli sprouts, it was very difficult to know how much you were getting and to standardize it. And some sources didn’t even have bioavailable sulforaphane, even if you ate the broccoli sprouts.

So this is a really in-depth and fascinating conversation about this compound called sulforaphane, what it does in the body, and how you can incorporate it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed recording it. And let’s jump right in. David, welcome. Thanks for being here.

David: Yeah, Katie, it’s a delight to be with you today. Thanks for having me.

Katie: I am so excited to have you here because you are an expert in a topic that I have been researching for a while and I’m really fascinated by, and I can’t wait to really delve into it today and give our listeners a more broad understanding. And that is “broccoli sprouts” and all of the benefits that come from certain compounds within broccoli sprouts. I’ve been growing broccoli sprouts for years and now they’ve become a really hot health trend over the past couple of years. So, from all of your research and experience as well, why broccoli sprouts?

David: Yeah, well, sprouts, in general, are what’s called a superfood, which are nutrient-dense foods. I actually heard recently somebody call broccoli sprouts, sort of, the king of superfoods. Now, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but whether it’s the top superfood or a top-two, I know it’s certainly packed with nutrients. And actually, as far as growing sprouts, I too grew sprouts for about five years and I haven’t actually grown them for about two until recently with the COVID stuff. We try to have a salad every day and we couldn’t find…like, all the stores we were going to, none of them had lettuces. And so time after time we couldn’t get any, so I was like, “Let’s just start sprouting again.” And so that’s been fun to do with my boys, especially because it’s super easy and you can get a crop really quickly.

But broccoli sprouts, specifically, it’s popular and they’re popular because of the chemical in them called sulforaphane. And in all cruciferous vegetables, so like cabbage, or cauliflower, or watercress, radish, all those types of vegetables have these chemicals that are kind of cousin chemicals to each other, like sulforaphane. And they all are slightly different, but they all are really good for your health. And so, there’s sort of a potpourri of those chemicals in each vegetable. And broccoli has the highest level of the sulforaphane, which is probably the most researched chemical in that family. It was discovered in 1992 up at Johns Hopkins. Since then, there’ve been literally several thousand research papers on the molecule. And the reason it’s so good in sprouts is because there are about 50 to 100 times more of this nutrient-dense chemical sulforaphane in the sprout versus the mature broccoli.

The other really good thing about it is you can grow them relatively quickly. As little as three days, you know, your sprouts are tiny at that point, but they’re still pretty dense nutritionally. I like to add radish seed. About 10% of the seeds I put in are radish when I’m growing because, actually, the radish has this enzyme that helps you convert in this chemical reaction to get the sulforaphane out of the broccoli sprouts. And so that’s sort of a little trick. One thing to note, Katie, is not all seeds are the same. So some seeds have more sulforaphane, some seeds have less, and actually, some have none, no ability to get sulforaphane. We actually were looking to get organic seeds and so we bought a bunch of about five different brands off of Amazon last summer, and four of the five brands had no ability to make sulforaphane.

So we were pretty shocked at that. We repeated that in January, the same study, and we did seven brands instead of five. And thankfully, six of the seven you could get sulforaphane from. But one of the organic brands still didn’t have any. So it’s kind of a crapshoot. Because of that, we’ve had people ask us and so we actually do sell seeds on our site for that reason, so you know what you’re getting. So if you buy a half-pound of seeds, you’re getting the ability to convert about 400 milligrams of this good chemical sulforaphane from that amount. And so broccoli seeds are popular because they have sulforaphane, but sulforaphane has a laundry list of health benefits. And so, one of the health benefits you probably heard of is that it’s good for detoxification.

So detox, it’s not just in your liver where detox occurs, but actually, every cell of your body has a mechanism for detoxification. So what sulforaphane does is it provides the ability to have a balanced detox. And so there are three phases in the detox. The first phase is typically what a lot of these detox programs push. And so that can yield something that we call the detox flu, where you’re doing a detox and you feel awful, you feel cruddy. And that’s because you can’t actually get the toxins out fast enough. And so with sulforaphane, you don’t get that because it’s balanced. And actually, sulforaphane is the best natural chemical at stimulating the second phase of detox. And so those are pretty, you know, that’s a pretty important thing to keep in mind.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of that study back in…I was leaving public health school back in the mid-2000s and there was a study that came out on women and their breast milk having flame retardant. And so, you know, we can get more into this, but we’re exposed to a lot of chemicals and the whole idea of detox is super, super important. Not only detox is one of the benefits, but inflammation. So fighting inflammation, it’s a wonderful natural anti-inflammatory. Most people don’t walk around saying, you know, “I’ve taken some broccoli sprouts and I feel less toxic.” But what they do say, and most of our testimonials that come in are actually of people who, you know, whose joints hurt less. And that’s because of the anti-inflammatory effect. So it works in two distinct, they’re related, but there’s different areas of inflammation.

So one is it turns on the anti-inflammatory pathway called NRF2, and then it turns off the pro-inflammatory pathway called NF-kappa B. NF-kappa B is sort of the Holy grail for pharmaceutical companies in their research for a pharmaceutical-grade anti-inflammatory. That’s the pathway that they’re all trying to turn off. And so, what that means is…you know, I think we’ve heard from numerous people who have benefited from their joints that way. So one lady who could not chop vegetables for years because of pain in her hands started taking sulforaphane and had some breakthrough there, was able to chop vegetables. And it happens pretty quickly, actually. And one of the things we did in seeing, you know, how quickly does sulforaphane work?

And so, we looked at something called IL-6, which is Interleukin 6 in urine, and basically gave like 10 milligrams of sulforaphane and saw that that IL-6 decreased 30% in 24 hours. So that’s enough so people can actually feel the difference. Another benefit that you can get from the sulforaphane in sprouts is brain health. And so there’s something called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is best if you exercise, you get that the most. But if you take sulforaphane, you can actually get it as well. And what that does is it actually helps with protecting existing neurons. And then something which a few years ago we didn’t think it was possible, but now we know, you can actually grow new neurons. And so BDNF helps with that. There are numerous papers on Alzheimer’s and BDNF, as well as Parkinson’s and BDNF.

But sulforaphane itself, actually, does cross the blood-brain barrier, so it’s directly impacting neuroinflammation. And on that line, my boys’ soccer coach actually is on the spectrum. He has ADHD, he owns a pizza shop in town and he started taking it and I get a text from him, he’s like, “David, I’ve had the best paperwork day of my entire life.” And so that was pretty cool to hear from him in that way. So it does help with concentration as well. And then, I mean, there are a couple of other things I want to talk about just briefly is anti-aging. A lot of people, a lot of bio-hackers take it for that. So what it does is it helps with something called mitophagy, which is the degradation of mitochondria that aren’t functioning properly.

They’re defective in some sort of way, often from stress or damage. And then autophagy, where the body is basically trying to clean out damaged cells in order to generate new ones and healthier ones. It’s really good for the immune system, which is important for this day and age with all the COVID virus and especially with old people. When you’re aging, your immune system, actually, your ability to protect against different things is decreased because of age. And sulforaphane actually balances both TH1 and TH2, so both sides of your immune system, which is not very common. Typically, if you’re taking an immune booster, it boosts one or the other. So that’s something that we are taking to boost our immune systems now.

And then also with energy, there’s a coenzyme called NAD plus. And so, when you’re trying to convert glucose to ATP, so glucose can be thought of as money in the bank, it’s not the usable form of money, whereas ATP is like cash, is the usable form of energy in the cell. And so to convert glucose to ATP, it’s this kind of complicated system called citric acid or TCA cycle. And NAD is a cofactor in that. And so, increasing that is actually super important. So sprouting, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to get sulforaphane. It’s pretty easy to grow them, it doesn’t take a ton of work. If you’re growing, one person, I mean, you’re growing them, Katie, and you can probably testify more than I can that if you’re trying to grow, every day of the week and get a harvest every day, and then for multiple people, it can actually become a significant production and play on your counter space.

But then if you’re traveling, that can give a hiccup for your growing them as well as, you know, you’ll inevitably get some mold or fruit flies or something like that where the crop…you’ll have to toss. But the other issue is the taste, which some people love it. It’s very pungent to me. It’s a very strong taste and so what we do is we actually juice the sprouts. So we’ll put them in the juicer with some carrots and lemon and ginger. I think doing it with citrus actually cuts that pungent taste, so it makes it much more palatable. So, yeah, those are some of the sorts of highlights on sprouts and specifically broccoli sprouts as a superfood and why they’re so good.

Katie: I’m right there with you on…I’ve always kind of grown them but now with certain vegetables being harder to get and stores being kind of spotty right now, definitely making sure that we’re ramping up our broccoli sprouts and just other sprouts because they grow so quickly and they’re easy to grow in the kitchen. And we’ve also been gardening a lot right now more than we would normally. It’s been a good reminder of that. And I loved the kind of wide-ranging overview of all the benefits because I think few plants have quite so many benefits as you just explained about broccoli sprouts. And I think there’s important several that are just really key right now. So you mentioned Interleukin 6 or IL-6, which has been in the news quite a bit actually because of the immune tie in there.

And people, I think, are actually starting to hear about that even in mainstream media and realizing that’s one of the things that might help keep the immune system healthy, like, we need to watch that range along with a few other tests. And so the fact that we already have studies demonstrating that sulforaphane can help with that, it’s really awesome to know that there are already tools like that. You also mentioned NRF2 and the pathway that goes hand in hand with it. And like you said, this has been a big topic with biohackers already for a while and it’s one that’s just starting to, kind of, creep into mainstream awareness. So I’d love if you could give us a little bit more in-depth of an explanation of what the NRF2 pathway is and why that’s so important.

David: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a very important question and topic. Basically, NRF2 is one of those systems that without it, you die. And if it’s depressed for long enough, you’ll get really sick. And that’s actually one of the things going on with the whole mechanism with COVID-19 is a depressed NRF2. And I’ll go into that a little bit, but like I mentioned, a lot of the benefits that I just listed about sulforaphane stem from how sulforaphane impacts NRF2. So what is NRF2? It’s a protein. It’s typically bound in this complex, and so it doesn’t just wander freely in your body, but it’s bound. And then when you actually take sulforaphane, it releases from that complex and can go into the cell nucleus, and that’s where it can make a big impact in a variety of areas in your health, once it’s in the nucleus and doing some work there.

And so, like I mentioned just before, NRF2 is the best, it actually modulates, it is the way phase two detox is modulated. And so, if you depress your phase two detox, like I said, you just feel crummy, and especially if you’re actively trying to get toxins out of your cells. But, I mean, just to back up a bit too, about toxins, I think this is where we probably share a common passion. There are 80,000 toxic chemicals in our environment, and that’s seen in the food we eat, seen in the air we breathe, it’s seen in the things we drink.

And those are some of the main ways we get exposed. But like I mentioned before, like with that flame-retardant, things that go on our skin, we can absorb toxins that way. So soaps, shampoos, sunblocks, even toothpaste when you’re brushing your teeth, they have the fluoride that can be a neurotoxin or it is a neurotoxin, deodorant. That’s why the do-it-yourself info you’ve been putting out there for years is so important because, first of all, people typically don’t know that all these products we use all the time are chock-filled with toxins. And then it’s also great that you have this new line of products where you can actually have some wholesome options. And so, I’m very excited about both of those. But going back to that story about the flame retardant. So these women who had flame retardant in their breast milk, they were just sitting on furniture.

So basically, all the furniture is required to have a flame-retardant sprayed on them and you sit on them and you have skin that touches them, you get that in the absorption. And so it’s kind of crazy. And so you have to really be careful in that way. Municipal water, you know, we live in a place that has a well, which is great. And so I always give my boys, you know, we always drink well-water that’s been tested and it’s good. But my boys will go to school and they love drinking from the water fountain. I’m like, “Don’t drink from the water fountain,” you know. Thankfully Charlottesville water, where I’m from is good for municipal water. But if you put a particle counter, you still have 200 parts per million of whatever, and so part of some of it is fecal matter or some of it is pharmaceuticals like Prozac, some of it is pesticide and herbicide, and you don’t want that, you know.

And so if you are living with municipal water, get a water filter, like a reverse osmosis water filter. The filters on the fridge are okay as far as taste, but they really aren’t getting you where you need to go as far as decreasing the particle count in your water. So all these exposures are, you know, we’re exposed every day to lots and lots of different things. There’s, you probably have heard in China with all of the industry, all the smokestacks, many, many of the Chinese urban centers, Beijing, one of them, are just super polluted. Like, you can barely go outside without getting your snot black. And so there’s numerous studies about how sulforaphane basically can decrease the amount of toxin. It basically detoxes you from the toxins you’re exposed to in the air.

And so they did this study in China, gave them a broccoli sprout liquid, drank it, and measured the toxins that came out in the urine. And it was pretty impressive how much came out. And then as far as detox, as well, like, we’re a health company, so we don’t promote super-excessive drinking, but I’ll go to a holiday party, Christmas party, something like that and I’ll bring some sulforaphane specifically because if you take it, you won’t have the same feeling of yuckiness the next day. And that’s detox. And so, just as an aside as far as research we are doing, we actually, you probably are familiar with glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in a roundup. And so what we’ve shown is the amount of glyphosate that you can get in a fast-food meal. That can decrease your NRF2 by about 30%, which, you know, may or may not sound like a lot, but it’s a lot.

And that alone can cause a significant disease state. And so, we’ve shown one dose of sulforaphane can actually boost that NRF2 back to baseline. And so I mentioned before too about inflammation. When the principal at my boys’ school was taking it, she’s also the high school tennis coach, she couldn’t play tennis, had a knee injury or just knee pain. And she started taking it and then all of a sudden, her knee pain is gone. Not only or knee pain, but she didn’t even realize her knees were swollen. And so they actually were all puffy. And then that swelling went down and she was like, “Oh, my gosh.” I play guitar. I’m not a very good guitar player, but it’s more therapeutic and just something I enjoy doing. And I stopped for about six months. And when I picked it back up, I couldn’t play for more than about two, three minutes because I couldn’t do it because of my hand pain. So once we developed the broccoli and started taking it, it resolved relatively quickly, which was very good.

The NRF2 is also, I think I mentioned this before, but it’s very helpful with the energy pathway. And so it’s a coenzyme that’s required for production of energy in cells. So the NAD also helps stimulate dopamine and serotonin, and so that also leads to increase in the mental awareness that can come from taking sulforaphane. But in talking about the Coronavirus, you know, one of the researchers that I work with is John Gildea. He’s an expert in kidneys. And ACE2 is the binding site for the coronavirus and it actually is also very important in health span as far as your kidneys go. And so ACE2 is central for kidney research, and so he’s an expert in ACE2. But anyway, the NRF2 pathway is what regulates the expression of ACE2 on our cells. And so if you have high NRF2, then you have low ACE2 on the cells. And that goes back to eating, what I mentioned before, the fast-food meal. If you’re eating poorly, that actually is a huge issue as far as you being…and you get exposed, let’s say you get exposed to the virus or it’s really any virus, but this is what’s in the news, it’s a big deal.

The other way issue is on the coronavirus, it binds the cell with something called a spike protein. And so for that spike protein to be activated in order to bind ACE2, there’s another protein on our cells. It’s a serene protein called TMPRSS2. The name’s not important, but what is important is if you take sulforaphane, that actually gets downregulated as well. So those two things in our immune system, it’s important to modulate. So, I mean, those are some of the highlights of what NRF2 does as far as health benefits. But yeah, it’s central to a lot of what’s going on with health.

Katie: Yeah. That’s super, super fascinating. And I’m curious, anytime there’s something that’s this good and it seems to have this many benefits, are there any downsides or risks or cautions when it comes to adjusting sulforaphane?

David: Yeah. That’s also a very important question and very good question. The question we get a lot is, you know, “If I’m allergic to broccoli, can I take broccoli?” And so the answer’s no because if you’re allergic to broccoli, the supplement is just a concentrate. But as far as sulforaphane specifically, the actual molecule, if you’re on blood pressure medications, you should monitor what’s going on because sulforaphane is known to help improve blood pressure issues. And then also similarly, if you are on blood thinners, you want to coordinate with your physician in order to determine, “Hey, I’m taking sulforaphane and I just want to be careful.” Certainly, if you’re going in for surgery, you should stop beforehand and coordinate with your physician that way. But yeah, I’d say those are the two, like, allergies, blood pressure issues, as well as blood-thinning issues are the ones we highlight as far as cautions.

Katie: Gotcha. Okay. Good to know. So to circle back, you mentioned that when you guys tested the broccoli seeds and broccoli sprouts, there were some that didn’t actually even have sulforaphane. And then I know that even in the literature once, if they do have sulforaphane, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to absorb all that sulforaphane, and we’ve got the whole interphase of myrosinase and glucoraphanin, and this whole thing that has to happen for the sulforaphane to be available in our bodies. So can you explain kind of the science of that? Like how have we in the past gotten enough sulforaphane from food and what things interfere with that process?

David: Well, yeah, this is a very important question because it deals with both the issues of the sulforaphane’s stability as well as, you know, how do you know how much of the molecule you’re getting in your body? So if you think about it, there’s kind of a journey that the supplement takes in order to go from, you know, it’s in your hand and you swallow it to it getting into your cells. So one is how do you know it’s getting from your bloodstream or from your gut and barrier, through your gut barrier into your bloodstream? And then once it’s in your bloodstream, how do you know it’s getting to the cells that it needs? And once it’s in the cells, how do you know that it’s actually making it a functional difference? How do you know the amount is such that it’s making a difference?

So historically, you get sulforaphane by eating broccoli. So you’d have a head of broccoli, in that head of broccoli, there’s a chemical that comes before sulforaphane called glucoraphanin and it’s stable. And so you take a bite of the head of broccoli, you start chewing it, and then you break the cell wall of the plant down that has an enzyme called myrosinase that’s released. It undergoes a chemical reaction with glucoraphanin to make the sulforaphane. You swallow it and you get the benefit. Again, glucoraphanin is stable and so you can actually harness it, put it in capsules, sell it as a supplement. But historically, if you did that with sulforaphane, it degrades quickly, which is why people opted for growing broccoli sprouts because they’re chalk filled with these large amounts of glucoraphanin and analogous amount of myrosinase.

And going back to…we talked about originally throwing in some radish seeds in there too. It has loads of myrosinase that can help convert the glucoraphanin into sulforaphane. Some people also use mustard seed or mustard powder, which is fine. So those are two ways, historically you’ve been getting sulforaphane. One is through the actual sprouts, the other is through the actual extraction of this precursor chemical called glucoraphanin into a supplement. One of the issues with that, with taking glucoraphanin, is how does it get converted, then, into sulforaphane once you take it? And so that’s actually the million-dollar question. So there are a couple of answers. One is your gut bacteria actually can convert glucoraphanin into sulforaphane at a certain percentage. And the percentage is variable, depends on how much of the gut bacteria you have. Some people have none. We have a hypothesis that the people who need to be converting it the most don’t have that gut bacteria to do so.

But you could convert lots of it. And so it’s just that most people don’t go around measuring their gut bacteria composition, but even if you do, your gut bacteria can shift from meal to meal substantially. So it’s not static, it’s very dynamic. So the straight-up glucoraphanin, you know, percentage-wise, again, everybody’s different, but you can convert up 10% to 20% of that into sulforaphane. And then there are some that throw in the myrosinase into the capsule. Again, it’s an enzyme, it’s not stable. That enzyme’s not stable and it’s certainly difficult for it once it hits your stomach acid to still be there. And so, typically, the supplements that have the myrosinase added to it, it does some, but it’s not like the Holy grail. It doesn’t do everything because your stomach acid can denature that enzyme pretty rapidly.

And so, with broccoli sprouts, there’s actually a paper comparing the precursor chemical supplements to broccoli sprouts and the broccoli sprouts, again, just looking at this specific research, I don’t want to down every broccoli supplement out there and get people angry. But in this one paper, the broccoli sprouts blew away the precursor chemicals versus bioavailability of the sulforaphane. Anyway, those are some of the important things in the research, and this was specifically done at Johns Hopkins, so it was a pretty controlled environment. They could put glucoraphanin with myrosinase and get a 40% absorption. We’ve actually tried to replicate that and have been unable to do that. I think that is super high. But the main thing is, is what you’re getting, is it making a difference? And so, the 10% to 20% range, the sulforaphane you’re getting, is not making a huge difference functionally. So I think that’s very important to know.

Katie: Got it. Okay. So what are some of the other things we can do that can make sulforaphane more effective in the body or that could increase its activity? Like, for instance, you mentioned BDNF earlier, and I know that, like you said, exercise can increase that. I believe sauna use could also increase that. So I would guess when you kind of stack things like that, it makes the sulforaphane more effective in your body, or obviously not eating fast food to decrease your NRF2 would make it more effective and other things. Are there other things we can do synergistically with these?

David: Oh, yeah, that’s great. I love that question. Yes, is the short answer. It’s sort of open-ended, you know, it’s something we are researching. In our supplements, we actually put the cousin chemical to sulforaphane, it’s called phenethyl isothiocyanate or a PEITC. And that chemical comes from watercress, which is cruciferous as well. So putting those together you get functionally a synergy of three to five times the functional effect. And, actually, within the broccoli seed itself, there are five other cousin chemicals. Not as high quantity as sulforaphane, but those work in synergy to…it’s because we…we actually put the broccoli head to head with just a lab-grade sulforaphane. You know, you buy 5 milligrams for $300. The synergy between those cousin chemicals is substantial.

And then when you add PEITC, which we got the idea from a paper and the peer-reviewed science, it’s again, three to five times the effect that you would see. The other chemical that this one research paper did was curcumin. So you put sulforaphane in with curcumin and it actually has a similar effect to the PEITC, three to five times. So those are two chemicals, two molecules that work in synergy with sulforaphane. Actually, the reason we have the BrocElite supplement is specifically because all of the glucoraphanin is converted ahead of time and we just figured out how to stabilize it. And so with that, you actually get more like a 70% bioavailability rate. And so that and we have shown like the IL-6 study, Katie, I referenced earlier, it’s making a difference functionally. And so that’s the important thing, is what you’re taking and making a difference.

Katie: Gotcha. Yeah, I think that’s an important distinction to note because I know when I initially started researching this, there was all this data that, like you’ve explained, sulforaphane is hard to get, it’s hard to know what the concentration is if you’re growing it yourself. And then there’s all these things you can do that are supposed to help increase the sulforaphane availability. So some sources say if you soak the broccoli sprouts at, I believe 155 or 158 degrees, then it increases the ability of that enzyme without deactivating the sulforaphane. There are others that say add, like, radishes, or mustard powder or different compounds with it to increase that activity.

But it’s always been kind of speculative and also kind of a pain in the butt. And I did this for a long time. I would drink a smoothie of sprouts that had been soaked in that 155-degree water with mustard powder, and it was really not good at all, but trying to get the most benefit when I had the worst of my auto-immune disease. And when I looked originally there literally was no shelf-stable supplement for this on the market. And the consensus kind of was you can’t even make this shelf-stable. So explain a little bit more of the science, because you guys have actually done that, which is why I was so excited to have you on.

David: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So, I mean, the story of this shelf-stable sulforaphane called BrocElite, you know, it came from my wife’s cancer journey. She actually was diagnosed in 2012 with breast cancer and she was pretty clear that she wanted to treat it naturally, but scientifically. And so my background’s in the sciences, so we began researching, and there were a lot of papers that were cell line papers or papers on mice and some on humans. Pretty quickly, as we were researching, we realized that every cancer is different. And so the best course of action for her was to grow her cancer cells in our lab and determine what directly killed her type of cancer. So we did that with the help of my friend, John Gildea, who’s an expert in a lot of things but he’s actually written a book on cell culture.

And so we found that sulforaphane was number three. We put 60 supplements on the cells, found sulforaphane was number 3 in directly killing her cancer, curcumin being number 1, and vitamin C being number 2. But unlike pharmaceuticals where the research is already done and you know exactly how much the cells are seeing, we had to sort of begin piecing it together. Like, how do you know what you’re ingesting orally is getting to the cells? And that was important too because it was a treatment for her. And so, again, it goes back to is it getting from the gut to the bloodstream? And once in the bloodstream, is it getting to the cells, and in the cells, is it a large enough amount to make a therapeutic difference?

So with vitamin C for example, it was easy. We bypassed a lot of it by just doing it an IV, Intravenous Vitamin C, and that was sort of the best we could do. With curcumin, it was a lot more complicated because that’s fat-soluble or lipid soluble and not a lot gets in. In fact, if you just take regular curcumin, 99% of it gets excreted. And so we spent a lot of time vetting different brands out there and finally landed on…I think we started with Meriva and then landed on Longvida. But it, you know, just trying to get something that actually gets inside from the gut. Well, with broccoli and sulforaphane, you know, I went out to buy it and found something called Sulforaphane Glucosinolate and I was like, “Ah, sulforaphane.” And so I bought it and it didn’t really seem like it was doing anything.

But you take stuff all the time that does stuff that you don’t think may or may not do something. And my wife was taking quite a bit of it and then come to find out, you know, as I’m reading, Sulforaphane Glucosinolate is not sulforaphane. It’s glucoraphanin. And so on these bottles that you go into the store to buy, it’s like, why do you, like, it’s super confusing. And even physicians that I’ve met or they think they’re giving their patients sulforaphane, I had one lady cry crying because she was like, “What do you mean this is not sulforaphane?” And so it’s confusing for everybody. But at that point, we started sprouting and growing broccoli sprouts to get it. But I asked John, I was like, “John, is this something you can stabilize?” And I even forgot I asked him that, but a few years went by and he actually stabilized it. And in fact, we sent it off to a lab. And the results came back in April of 2017 and my wife was like, “We gotta get this out there because this is a game-changer for people’s health. It’s not just about cancer at all. It has so many health benefits.”

And so she actually began raising money to start the supplement company. But she took a turn for the worst and ended up dying in September of that year. But after that, John and I and a few others started this company as part of her memorial, but also just to make sure people don’t wind up in my situation, to say. It’s much easier to stay healthy than to get a disease and then have to get back to health. And so this is a great tool in the tool belt. Whether you sprout, whether you take BrocElite, the chemical itself is super important. And so we released it, brought the product to market in February of 2018 just for that reason. We want folks to be able to have options in that way.

Katie: Yeah. And like I said, I’ve been eating broccoli sprouts for years and then I still felt a difference when I started taking this. And for me, with learning about sulforaphane and eating broccoli sprouts daily, that actually was at the advice of my doctor when I first found out I had Hashimoto’s and I had nodules on my thyroid that thankfully ended up not being cancerous. But I went into that research before I knew that and was astounded. I also want to say that I’m really, really sorry for your loss. I know that’s heartbreaking and I love that you, to honor her memory, have pushed forward with this to get it to everyone else. I think that’s a really important point, that you do have to, in that height of disease like I have with Hashimoto’s, you are forced to concentrate on health, but it’s so much easier if you can be preventative about it versus waiting until it gets to that kind of crisis point.

David: Yes.

Katie: Yeah. But I’m so sorry for your loss.

David: Thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah, I appreciate that.

Katie: Okay. Like I said, this is the only formula I’m aware of, I think the only one on the market that has bioavailable sulforaphane like we’ve talked about and like you’ve explained. And I felt a noticeable difference from it, which has only happened for me with a very rare handful of supplements in my life. And so I wanted to make sure that anybody listening had a chance to try as well. And I know that we worked out a special deal with you guys. Can you explain where people can find it and learn more?

David: Yeah. Yes. So we have a special, you know, if you’re listening with “Wellness Mama” right now, you can go to brocelite.com/pages/wellness-mama and you can see the deals we have going on there, including a discount on some of the seeds. So yeah, that’s the link and we have up to 27% savings.

Katie: Awesome. And of course, for all of you guys listening, the link will be also in the show notes of wellnessmama.fm, or if you’re on social media, I’ll put the link there as well. That way if you are exercising or driving, you don’t have to worry about writing it down, but the link will be there and how to get the discount and all of that.

This episode is sponsored by Beekeeper’s Naturals, which is my go-to source for all things bee-related. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re an amazing company. They make clean remedies that really work and that my whole family loves to take, no fight required. I’m sure you probably know that bees are absolutely vital to our global food system. And Beekeeper’s Naturals is on a mission to save the bees while creating products that support humans as well. They source all of their bee products sustainably and do a lot to support healthy bee colonies. All of their products, of course, are gluten-free, non-GMO, naturally-sourced, and keto-friendly. My personal favorite is their propolis spray which I use for natural immune support. I never have to fight my kids to take it because it tastes delicious and it’s my first line of defense at any sign of sniffles or cough or any time I’m traveling. I also really love their B.LXR Brain Fuel, which is a caffeine-free way to support focus and energy. I take this on days like today with podcasting when I need a little extra mental boost. As a listener of this podcast, you can save 15% on all Beekeeper’s Naturals products. Go to beekeepersnaturals.com/wellnessmama, and the code “wellnessmama” saves you 15%.

This episode is sponsored by Joovv, a natural red light therapy in your very own home. We may not think of light when we think of essential nutrients that our body needs, but light is absolutely necessary! This is the reason I go outside as soon as possible after waking up in the morning, and the reason I spend time in front of my Joovv. Light is energy and our bodies need light in certain forms in order to sustain healthy cellular function. Red light in particular, especially in certain wavelengths, has very specific benefits for hair, skin, and cellular energy. I like Joovv because they are third-party tested for safety and performance and use a Patented modular design which allows you easily treat your whole body in under 20 minute and lets you use anything from a small system to a larger system that you would find in a Chiropractors office. Joovv uses clinically proven wavelengths of light that provide energy to the body. They have Bundle pricing discounts which allow you to save more money when purchasing larger setups. Get free shipping at joovv.com/wellnessmama and use code WELLNESSMAMA for a free gift!

Another unrelated question I love to selfishly ask at the end of interviews is if there’s a book or a number of books that have really changed your life and if so, what they are and why? I’m always looking for new books.

David: Yeah, no, one of the ones that really made an impact on me, again, going back to the cancer journey and trying to treat cancer naturally, how do you know that these chemicals are going where they need to go in amounts they need to get there to make a difference. And so there is a great book, Linus Pauling, The Linus Pauling Institute is the University of Oregon State or Oregon…excuse me, I’m not sure which, but Linus Pauling Institute. Linus Pauling is the only person to win the Nobel Prize twice in medicine, and he was the one that spearheaded the vitamin C research. And so there’s a book from that institute called “The Evidence-Based Approach To Phytochemicals And Other Dietary Factors.” And that kind of began my journey into…you know, it’s a just wonderful resource that has numerous studies referenced and is very scientific. But it takes the idea of plants as medicine to a new level and it’s a super good resource if that’s something you’re doing with your family.

Katie: Awesome. I will make sure there’s a link to that book in the show notes as well. But David, I’m really appreciative of all the research you’re doing on this. Like I said, I love the product and I’m glad to share it, but for anyone listening, I encourage you to do your own research and learn about sulforaphane, whether you grow it yourself, whether you’ve tried it in a supplement form, or whether you’re like me and you do both because certainly, like I’m sure you would echo David, there’s many benefits to broccoli sprouts besides just sulforaphane. So even if you’re taking sulforaphane, they are a great source of other nutrients and an easy thing to grow even in an apartment kitchen or any type of sprouts.

There’s just so many benefits. But I love that you’ve narrowed down on sulforaphane and done the work to make it bioavailable. Because there are many, many people who are just simply not going to grow broccoli sprouts and drink hot broccoli mustard smoothies like I did. So I think this is a great pilled option that provides real benefits. And I think as we continue to see the research on things like NAD plus and BDNF and IL-6 and all of these things that are now coming to top of mind right now with the focus on immune health, I think things like this are gonna become even more important. So thank you for all the work you do and for being here today.

David: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me and I’m glad to be here.

Katie: And thanks, as always, to you for listening and for sharing your time with us today. We’re both very grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.



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