Diindolylmethane (DIM) has been the topic of recent discussions surrounding hormonal health. Studies have shown that DIM plays a crucial role in regulating hormones, by balancing good estrogen and bad estrogen. Yet, DIM has so many other notable benefits beyond hormonal health that can improve overall health and wellness.
In this article, you will learn
- What is Diindolylmethane (DIM)
- How Does Diindolylmethane Work?
- What Is Diindolylmethane Used For?
- Benefits of Diindolylmethane
- Side Effects Of Diindolylmethane
- Is Diindolylmethane Right For You?
What Is Diindolylmethane
Cruciferous vegetables such as brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garden cress, mustard greens, radishes, turnip, and kale contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol. When indole-3-carbinol mixes with your stomach acid, it creates a chemical reaction that converts it to Diindolylmethane (DIM). By supplementing just two capsules of DIM, the average person would need to eat as much as two pounds of cruciferous vegetables per day, to get the same benefits.
How Does Diindolylmethane Work?
In order for estrogen to be metabolized by the body, it must be combined with oxygen as part of aerobic metabolism. Diindolylmethane helps to metabolize ‘good estrogen’ in the body while subsequently decreasing ‘bad estrogen’. ’Good estrogen’ has the ability to protect the heart and brain with antioxidant activity, promote cell growth, and rid the body of damaged cells. Thus promoting ‘good estrogen vs. bad estrogen’ ratios [R].
’Bad’ estrogen metabolites have been found to cause cancer and are made prevalent by obesity and man-made environmental chemicals known as ‘free radicals’. Estrogen requires a metabolic pathway similar to that of DIM thus promoting ‘good’ estrogen production. ‘Bad estrogen’ associated with obesity has been implicated as one of the primary risk factors in the development of cancer-causing tumors in breast tissue [R]
In addition to keeping ‘good estrogen’ in the body, DIM also works to inhibit aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. DIM contributes to a better metabolism naturally through the promotion of hormonal homeostasis and supports more efficient fat metabolism, which helps testosterone circulate more freely throughout the body. “Free” or non-protein bound testosterone adds to the structural proteins of muscles allowing for hypertrophy or muscle growth to occur [R]
What Is Diindolylmethane Used For?
The growing body of evidence surrounding Diindolylmethane and its benefits go beyond hormonal health. Research suggests that Diindolylmethane benefits
- Stress Levels
- Sleep Quality
- Weight Loss
- PMS Symptoms
- Hormonal Acne
Diindolylmethane Benefits: Controlling Stress Levels
According to studies, those who are exposed to heightened levels of stress from normal everyday stressors (I.e. kids, work deadlines, traffic, etc.) exhibit decreased levels of progesterone. Decreased progesterone leads to excessive amounts of ‘bad’ estrogen floating around the body. Research suggests that Diindolylmethane can play a crucial role in eliminating these higher levels of estrogen and can help benefit high stress levels.
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Diindolylmethane Benefits: Better Quality Sleep
Increased estrogen can also be caused by poor sleep habits, which inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone that can also protect against estrogen dominance [R]. Diindolylmethane has been shown to help reduce the effects of poor sleep through the regulation of estrogen levels.
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Diindolylmethane Benefits: Weight Loss
Being overweight experience increase in estrogen dominance especially those who carry weight around their midline. DIM has been found to help increase metabolism thus promoting weight loss in those that are considered overweight [R]. DIM also increases the uptake of naturally occurring testosterone in your body therefore stimulating muscle growth and optimizing fat loss.
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Diindolylmethane Benefits: Regulating PMS Symptoms
DIM has been recommended for women who show symptoms of estrogen dominance which include, but are not limited to: heavy periods, periods lasting longer than 7 days, menstrual cycles shorter than 25 days, and PMS symptoms such as major mood swings, irritability, uncontrollable anger, and feelings of depression.
An enzyme called aromatase, which we all have, converts a portion of our testosterone into estrogen. DIM naturally inhibits aromatase so more testosterone is freely available in our system. Not only does increased testosterone allows us to hold onto more muscle mass, but there is also less aromatase available and therefore, less harmful estrogen metabolites leading to fewer PMS symptoms
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Diindolylmethane Benefits: Improving Acne
If you’ve suffered from hormonal acne, you know there is no easy fix. When androgens and (aka male hormones) and hormone receptors bind, changes in your skin can occur, which lead to acne.
Hormonal acne can be caused from an imbalance of good estrogen, bad estrogen, and testosterone. DIM works to prevent the bad estrogen pathways and promote a balance of good estrogen and testosterone, to keep your skin clean and clear. DIM binds to androgen receptors, inhibiting changes in the skin, such as increased oil production and clogged pores.
Diindolylmethane Benefits: Thyroid Health
The incidence of thyroid cancer is 4-5x higher in women than men, suggesting that estrogen plays a significant role in thyroid disease. A pilot study investigated the antiestrogen effects of DIM by supplementing patients with 300m of DIM per day. The data suggested that DIM enhanced estrogen metabolism and could potentially reduce the risk of developing thyroid cancer by decreasing estrogen levels [R].
Side Effects of DIM
Side effects of DIM include, but are not limited to
- brain fog
- dark urine
The British Journal of Cancer conducted a random control trial looking at woman at risk for developing cervical cancer. The results showed that after supplementing with 150mg of DIM for 6 months, 70 percent experienced at least one non-serious side effects. The most common was darkening of the urine. About one-fourth of the women experienced an increase in bowel frequency, while 18 percent had headaches or gas. Less common side effects included nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and a skin rash. Nearly 13 percent of the women reported changes in their menstrual cycle when they took DIM (R).
It is hypothesized that these symptoms resemble the body going through a period of detox since; ‘bad estrogen’ is being pulled out of your cells and essentially eliminated out of the body. As with any detox, the symptoms are not long lasting and the rewards far outweigh any short-term discomfort you may experience.
Is DIM Right For You?
While DIM can be obtained naturally by eating tons cruciferous veggies it’s not realistic to achieve the benefits of these foods without supplementation. Not only does DIM effect hormonal health, but it also naturally speeds up your metabolism, eliminates hormonal acne, stimulates muscle growth, and promotes thyroid health, with minimal non-serious side effects. With an abundance of information about supplementation out there, it’s difficult to know exactly what is best for your body without feeling like you’re exposing it to unnecessary and harmful chemicals.
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Yasuda, Michiko T et al. “Estrogen- and stress-induced DNA damage in breast cancer and chemoprevention with dietary flavonoid” Genes and environment: the official journal of the Japanese Environmental Mutagen Society vol. 39 10. 1 Feb. 2017, doi:10.1186/s41021-016-0071-7
Rajoria, Shilpi et al. “3,3'-diindolylmethane modulates estrogen metabolism in patients with thyroid proliferative disease: a pilot study” Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association vol. 21,3 (2011): 299-304.
Paola Muti, H. Leon Bradlow, Andrea Micheli, Vittorio Krogh, Jo L. Freudenheim, Holger J. Schünemann, Martin Stanulla, Jun Yang, Daniel W. Sepkovic, Maurizio Trevisan and Franco Berrino Epidemiology Vol. 11, No. 6 (Nov., 2000), pp. 635-640
Yue, Wei et al. “Effects of estrogen on breast cancer development: Role of estrogen receptor independent mechanisms” International journal of cancer vol. 127,8 (2010): 1748-57.
Ishikawa T, Glidewell-kenney C, Jameson JL. Aromatase-independent testosterone conversion into estrogenic steroids is inhibited by a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2006;98(2-3):133-8.