A recent trial of a substance called ascorbigen showed initial positive results for FM relief. Ascorbigen is a natural substance released from cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage and broccoli powder, when these plants’ tissues are broken up (such as in juicing.) Synthetic ascorbigen was used for the trial, because analysis of commercially available broccoli powder did not show the presence of any ascorbigen, presumably due to the way in which the product is prepared.
According to the study’s author Ben Bramwell, dietary indoles, of which ascorbigen is one, are of interest because they seem to modulate estrogen metabolism, decreasing the amount of one relatively potent estrone (16alpha-hydroxyestrone) while increasing the production of another less active estrone (2-hydroxyestrone), in a majority of women. The rationale for testing dietary indoles in fibromyalgia is that dietary indoles modulate estrogen metabolism and FMS is very much more common in women (as are a number of related disorders such as lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Sjogrens).
As Bramwell says, “Could there be a link between estrogen levels/metabolism in women and the occurrence of FMS? (We) don’t know yet, but if we are fortunate enough to secure the funding we need for further work, we hope to find out.”
Twelve female fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) patients were given 500 mg per day of a blend containing 100 mg ascorbigen and 400 mg broccoli powder in a preliminary, one-month, open-label trial.
This group of patients showed a mean 20.1 percent (p=0.044) decrease in their physical impairment score and a mean 17.8 percent (p=0.016) decrease in their total fibromyalgia impact scores as measured by the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire. The mean physical impairment score two weeks post-treatment showed a significant return to near pre-treatment level (p=0.028).
Analysis of ten of the patients’ mean threshold pain levels at the 18 possible tender points obtained before and at the end of treatment showed a strong trend toward an increase in the mean threshold pain level (p=0.059).
The reduced sensitivity to pain and improvement in quality of life measured in this study appear to be clinically relevant and a larger, double-blind study is warranted.
Altern Med Rev 2000 Oct;5(5):455-462