Background: Broccoli is a rich source of health-promoting glucosinolates, phenolic compounds, minerals and vitamins, which might have potential to alleviate pain.
Aim: To explore the antinociceptive effects of a broccoli sprout aqueous extract (BSE) in experimental models of pain and an opioid mechanism.
Materials and methods: the BSE was administered to mice and rats that were subjected to the writhing and formalin tests, respectively. Gastric damage or sedative-like response, as adverse effects observed in anti-inflammatory non-steroidal and opioid analgesic drugs, respectively, were also explored.
Results: Antinociception, but not sedative or gastric injury response, was observed in a significant and dose-dependent manner with the BSE (50-500 mg kg-1, i.p. and 500-2000 mg kg-1, p.o.) in comparison to the control group; these effects resembled those observed with the analgesic tramadol (30 mg kg-1, i.p.) in writhing and formalin assessments. Blockage of opioid receptors by naloxone (1 mg kg-1, i.p.) produced partial inhibition of the antinociceptive effect of the BSE in both assays.
Conclusion: This study gives evidence of the potential activity of broccoli sprouts in pain therapy.