Sulforaphane is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. It has powerful health benefits and activates around 300 genes that are involved in anti-inflammatory pathways. It’s particularly useful as it inhibits inflammation at the same time as supressing oxidative stress (ROS), providing a novel drug target with potential across a range of conditions. Sulforaphane is one of the best-studied bioactive agents in cruciferous vegetables, with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects1.

Oxidative stress and chronic low grade inflammation all appear to play important roles in fibrosis2 and oxidative stress (ROS) is highly efficient in activating latent TGF-β1, the key driver of fibrosis3.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of sulforaphane in the mature parts of the plants we normally eat, and cooking de-actives the enzyme myrosinase, which is required to convert sulforaphane into the biologically active form. So, it’s difficult to eat enough cruciferous vegetables every day to obtain a significant benefit. 

Fresh 3 day-old broccoli sprouts contain high levels of sulforaphane and myrosinase, and are a good source of these compounds. There is quality research that shows eating 100 g of broccoli sprouts every day provides powerful anti-inflammatory effects (see Dr Rhonda Patrick on Utube). Unfortunately, shop bought sprouts are frequently contaminated, and it’s best to grow your own, and keep an eye out for contamination.

Avmacol is a more convenient way to obtain sulforaphane and myrosinase compared to growing your own sprouts. It has been extensively tested by independent research laboratories, so, unlike other products, we can be confident that it has what it says it has on the label. Many other products on the market only have sulforaphane and because they lack active myrosinase only a very small amount of the sulforaphane is biologically active. Avmacol is currently undergoing clinical trials for lung fibrosis and cancer, but hasn’t been tested for arthrofibrosis.

Some people are allergic to sulphur compounds, and should not take Avmacol. People on medications should check for drug interactions.

See Dr Rhonda Patrick on how to grow broccoli sprouts, and the health benefits from consuming them.

Sulforaphane reversed differentiation of lung fibroblasts into myofibroblasts in vitro via Nrf24. It decreased α-SMA in myofibroblasts and collagen 1 expression in vitro4,5, and decreased cell proliferation, migration and contraction in vitro5.


  1. Lozanovski, V. J. et al. Broccoli sprout supplementation in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer is difficult despite positive effects-results from the POUDER pilot study. Invest New Drugs, doi:10.1007/s10637-019-00826-z (2019).
  2. Vaziri, N. D. et al. Dose-dependent deleterious and salutary actions of the Nrf2 inducer dh404 in chronic kidney disease. Free Radic Biol Med86, 374-381, doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2015.04.022 (2015).
  3. Ahamed, J. & Laurence, J. Role of Platelet-Derived Transforming Growth Factor-beta1 and Reactive Oxygen Species in Radiation-Induced Organ Fibrosis. Antioxid Redox Signal27, 977-988, doi:10.1089/ars.2017.7064 (2017).
  4. Kyung, S. Y. et al. Sulforaphane attenuates pulmonary fibrosis by inhibiting the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. BMC Pharmacol Toxicol19, 13, doi:10.1186/s40360-018-0204-7 (2018).
  5. Artaud-Macari, E. et al. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 nuclear translocation induces myofibroblastic dedifferentiation in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Antioxid Redox Signal18, 66-79, doi:10.1089/ars.2011.4240 (2013).