Diindolylmethane (DIM) benefits both women and men. It’s a plant compound that has picked up steam as a go-to treatment for maintaining estrogen and testosterone balance, and as an anti-cancer agent (1, 2).
It’s generated when the body breaks down indole-3-carbinol (I3C) (3), which is found in cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. However, to get the maximum benefit of DIM, you’d need to eat a kilo of these vegetables every day (4).
For this reason, taking DIM as a natural health supplement may be the best way to go.
Secondly, these cruciferous vegetables also contain goitrogens – compounds that mess with your thyroid. The thyroid gland controls several hormones in the body, including estrogen. You can still take broccoli and cabbage but you don’t want piles of it.
When you take a DIM supplement, you avoid those extra compounds with potential harmful effects.
Sex Hormones Explained
Hormones are chemical messengers that tell our bodies to perform various functions.
Estrogen and testosterone are called sex hormones because they control functions of the reproductive system. Both hormones occur in both men and women and control various body functions. This makes their balance critical to health.
As we age, hormone production and balance changes, leading to multiple symptoms like weight gain, muscle loss, brittle bones, etc, as well as that feeling of “getting older”. Diindolylmethane helps in maintaining this hormonal balance for sex hormones.
Estrogen has about 300 known functions currently. For example, it impacts the liver, heart and brain (5).
The following are the benefits of taking Diindolylmethane (DIM):
1) Diindolylmethane Maintains Estrogen Balance
In order to be used in the body, estrogen is metabolized into 2- hydroxy and 2-methoxy, (6) the “good estrogen”, or 16-hydroxy and 16-methoxy, the “bad estrogen”.
The “good estrogen” is involved in beneficial functions throughout the body, such as protecting the heart and brain. Conversely, the “bad estrogen” is involved in the undesirable effects such as weight gain, as well as breast and uterine cancers (7, 8).
Healthy levels of the good estrogen are associated with:
- Lower body fat and more muscle
- Higher quality collagen in the skin and joints
- Healthy bone density
- Proper cholesterol levels (in animal models)
DIM helps increase production of “good estrogen” and reduce effects of “bad estrogen”. This results to a bunch of associated health benefits and prevents several undesirable conditions like weight gain and cancer, among other benefits.
2) DIM Is A Hormonal Treatment For Acne
Hormonal acne has a few tell-tale signs:
- It appears at the same time during your menstrual cycle
- It’s usually deep and painful and doesn’t easily pop
- Usually around the jaw-line, cheeks and chin
Hormonal acne usually occurs when the level of estrogen falls too low in relation to progesterone. This un-checked progesterone promotes too much sebum production, which leads to acne. By controlling estrogen and testosterone balance, DIM can help keep acne in check.
DIM helps maintain healthy levels of the good estrogen, as well as testosterone, and prevents the bad estrogen pathways. This healthy balance keeps acne in check.
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3) Testosterone Supplementation & Body Building Using DIM
By our mid-forties, the levels of our testosterone in both men and women decrease to a level that some body processes may not work properly.
Diindolylmethane inhibits aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen (12).
By DIM reducing excess estrogens in men (possibly caused by genetics, diet, or xenoestrogen exposure), there may also be a reduction in estrogen-excess symptoms like fatigue, erectile dysfunction, obesity, and estrogen-related cancers (13, 14).
Testosterone is associated with better muscle tone and growth, which makes testosterone supplementation attractive to body builders.
Since Diindolylmethane inhibits aromatase, it maintains higher levels of testosterone. This promotes enhanced muscle growth and adaptation with exercise.
It supports more efficient fat metabolism and helps testosterone to be liberated from its carrier proteins. The “good estrogen” increases one’s development of stronger and more metabolically active muscles.
DIM helps maintain healthy levels of free testosterone which is more available in the body, as well as “good estrogen”. This promotes metabolically active and stronger muscles, protect muscles from exercise-induced damage, resulting in less inflammation, less pain, and more rapid progress in gaining muscle.
It also reduces estrogen-excess symptoms like fatigue, erectile dysfunction, obesity, and estrogen-related cancers.
4)Diindolylmethane (DIM) Benefits For Cancer Prevention
As we have seen, DIM promotes healthy metabolism of estrogen. This prevents cancer (13, 14, 15), particularly those related to sex hormones (e.g. breast, prostate, uterus, and ovary), in several ways.
First, stimulating “good estrogen” production causes a simultaneous reduction of the “bad estrogen”, which prevents them from damaging cells and potentially causing cancer.
Lastly, “good estrogen” acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from the damage of free radicals, which also helps prevent cancer.
DIM promotes metabolism of healthy estrogen. This prevents damage from bad estrogen thus preventing cancer. It reduces cell division of abnormal cells and eliminates pre-cancerous cells. It also protects cells from damage from free radicals, which prevents cancer.
5) DIM Leads To Easier Weight Management
One of Diindolylmethane (DIM) benefits is weight loss. DIM’s use has been associated with shedding weight in both men and women.
The balance of “good estrogen” and free testosterone helps release stored fat, and it also assists fat-burning hormones.
Furthermore, DIM supplements may stimulate fat breakdown and inhibit fat cell formation (19).
As DIM regulates balance of good estrogen and testosterone, it assists fat-burning hormones. DIM supplements may also inhibit fat cell formation.
6) May Protect Against Prostrate Issues
Rising estrogen becomes a problem in middle-aged men. Testosterone is increasingly converted into estrogen, particularly in overweight men.
DIM can help improve prostate health, and help guard against prostate enlargement, a condition known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).
Research has shown that un-metabolized estrogen accumulates in prostate tissue in men as they get older. Exposure of human prostate tissue to un-metabolized estrogen in the laboratory did indeed result in activation and increased production of prostate-specific antigen protein (PSA). Elevated PSA is associated with prostate cancer.
DIM has also been shown to prevent prostate cancer (16).
DIM directly slows the production of PSA by prostate cells, independent of its effects on estrogen metabolism.
Accumulation of un-metabolized estrogen in the prostate is known to cause prostate enlargement. DIM slows the production of PSA and prevents prostate enlargement and cancer.
7) Other Diindolylmethane (DIM) Benefits
Diindolylmethane (DIM) benefits also include:
- Regulation of energy metabolism by promoting the active release of stored fat for better energy, especially during exercise.
- Cell growth regulation, which helps get rid of damaged cells throughout the body.
- PMS support. Healthy levels of estrogen and testosterone balance in women may help to reduce the symptoms of PMS (Pre-menstrual syndrome).
- Slows age-related diseases. The “good estrogens” have an important antioxidant activity – which slows some age-related disease, such as heart disease and arthritis.
- Support perimenopause. Slower hormone metabolism in mid-life can mean higher than normal levels of estrogen and a deficiency of “good estrogen”. Women in perimenopause usually experience slower estrogen metabolism. This can be aided by DIM’s actions of hormone balance and metabolism.
- Reduced risk of a heart attack. Men with the highest estrogen level have the highest risk of early heart attack. DIM may help normalize the cardiac risk in both men and women related to unhealthy or underactive estrogen metabolism.
Potential Side-Effects Of DIM
Current research shows that DIM is well tolerated. Some side-effects include:
- Darkening of the urine, an increase in bowel movements, headaches, and gas (20, 21).
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin rash (20).
Since DIM supplements interact with estrogen levels, they may affect people with hormone-sensitive cancers or who are on hormone therapies. Such individuals should steer clear of DIM supplements unless under the supervision of a medical professional.
The rest of the side effects of DIM are short-lived and resemble the effects of general detox symptoms — because that’s precisely what’s happening. DIM pulls excess estrogens out of your cells and sends them out into the bloodstream for elimination. While it’s all circulating, you’ll feel like crud.
You can overcome these side effects by:
- Taking a lot of clean water.
- Support your liver – since your liver is working overtime, breaking down estrogen, you can support your liver with glutathione, calcium d-glucarate, vitamin C, and liver support herbs like dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, and milk thistle.
If you get detox symptoms for a few days, it’s a sign that you had a lot of estrogen to deal with and you probably really needed to get it out.
DIM supplements have not been shown to cause serious side effects. People on hormone therapies or with certain hormone-related cancers should avoid these supplements.
Does DIM actually change my estrogen levels?
No, DIM capsules do not increase or decrease your estrogen blood levels. They will only change your body’s ratio of good to bad estrogens.
How long can I take DIM capsules? Do you have to wean yourself off of them?
You can take DIM capsules as long as needed, but most people use the supplement for about six months to a year. You can stop taking DIM at any time.
Can I take DIM capsules while on birth control?
Yes. Women can take DIM capsules while on birth control. Taking DIM can help with both adult acne and the side effects of synthetic hormones.
My DIM capsules have a strange smell. Is that normal?
Yes, and that scent is a good sign! Natural, high-grade DIM made from cruciferous veggies has a strong smell. In fact, if your current DIM capsules don’t have a scent, it likely means your supplement contains fewer active ingredients and will be less effective.
Why not just eat more cruciferous vegetables?
Cruciferous vegetables are protective for hormone-sensitive cancers. However, direct measurements of upward, beneficial shifts in estrogen metabolism indicate you would have to eat at least two pounds per day of raw or lightly cooked cruciferous vegetables to derive the same benefit as two capsules of specially formulated DIM.
What’s exciting about the effect of DIM on premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
PMS symptom improvement has been noted after beginning dietary supplementation with absorbable DIM. These results suggest DIM is able to correct the estrogen imbalance in PMS.
What’s the best supplementation approach to PMS?
A strong nutritional approach to PMS includes bio-available DIM, chaste berry extract, Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium. Synergistic interaction of these ingredients benefits PMS
What does DIM do? IN regards to acne treatment.
DIM can have a balancing effect on hormonal receptors. It can also help balance androgen and estrogen receptors and is believed to restore estrogen balance. DIM help balance hormones by blocking the effects of excess testosterone, the hormone that is responsible for the production of more sebum(oil) in the skin, and more acne.
How does DIM help with hormonal acne?
The root cause of hormonal acne is an imbalance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, which affects the skin’s oil-producing glands. With that in mind, most Dermatologists agree that the best way to clear hormonal and cystic acne is to combine effective topical treatment with hormonal modulation. Hormonal modulation can occur via prescriptions (such as birth control pills) or natural supplementation. Estrogen imbalance, in particular, is a common cause of acne. Because DIM works to balance estrogen receptors, it can help clear up adult hormonal acne in women.
I have hormonal acne, and I’m taking the DIM. When will I see results?
Some women will notice results in as little as four weeks. But be patient. For some, it may take 3-4 months to see optimal results.
Can I take DIM if I have diabetes?
Are there any adverse effects of taking DIM?
Some people get a slight headache when they first start taking the capsule. If this occurs, increase your daily water intake and give your body some time to adjust. Once your body has adjusted, the headache should go away.
DIM is a compound your body creates when you eat cruciferous vegetables. It’s also concentrated and sold as a supplement.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) benefits mainly stem from its ability to balance estrogen and testosterone levels. It helps treat a variety of conditions like hormone-sensitive cancers, prostate issues, PMS, acne, etc.