Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a compound made when we digest cruciferous veggies, such as Brussels sprouts or broccoli . Studies show that DIM affects estrogen levels in your body.
As a result, Diindolylmethane supplements have gained popularity as a potential treatment for various hormone-related conditions, including menopause symptoms, acne, certain forms of cancer, and prostate issues . Still, we may wonder whether these uses are supported by scientific research.
This write-up provides a comprehensive overview of DIM supplements, including their side effects and benefits.
What are DIM supplements?
When we consume cruciferous veggies, our stomach acid breaks down a compound called indole-3-carbinol to produce a new compound called DIM.
Intriguingly, observational studies link high cruciferous vegetable intake with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including prostate and breast cancer. While the exact mechanism is unclear, indole-3-carbinol is believed to be partly responsible .
Although studies on DIM are still quite limited, it’s thought to help balance estrogen levels in your body. Significantly, DIM may stimulate the production of a more beneficial, less potent form of estrogen known as 2-hydroxyestrone.
It can also help minimize the effects of a stronger form called 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone, which has been associated with weight gain and an increased risk of some cancers, including uterine and breast cancer .
Moreover, DIM has been proved to inhibit an enzyme known as aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen.
While cruciferous veggies are the primary food source of DIM, you would need to consume multiple servings every day to reap this compound’s benefits. As a result, individuals looking to treat a specific condition like prostate or acne issues may seek a concentrated dose in the form of a DIM supplement.
Here’s a look at some critical findings from the available studies:
1. Breast Cancer
Although few laboratory trials indicate that diindolylmethane may help inhibit breast cancer cells’ growth, few clinical studies have been conducted.
In a 2004 small pilot study published in Nutrition and Cancer, scientists found that taking diindolylmethane supplements led to estrogen metabolism changes. The research comprised 19 post-menopausal women with a record of initial-stage breast cancer.
A 2015 study published in Familial Cancer investigated the use of 300 mg per day of diindolylmethane for 4 to 6 weeks in 15 women with a BRCA1 mutation. The urinary estrogen ratio (a biomarker inversely associated with breast cancer development) didn’t substantially change after supplementation.
2. Cervical Cancer
Although some data have shown that taking DIM supplements may slow the development of cervical cancer, a 2012 research published in the British Journal of Cancer showed no benefit. The investigation involved 551 women with newly diagnosed, low-grade abnormalities in cervical cells.
For 6 months, participants took either a placebo or DIM supplements daily. DIM supplements failed to have a considerable beneficial effect on the presence of HPV or cervical cell changes.
[Read: Natural Remedies To Cure Cancer ]
Other Forms of Cancer
Initial findings from animal and test-tube studies based research indicate that DIM may protect against ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. However, because of a lack of investigation, it’s too early to tell whether DIM may help battle these cancer forms in humans.
Although DIM supplements are sometimes touted as natural weight loss aids, there’s no scientific proof to support the claim that taking DIM promotes weight loss.
Other potential benefits and uses
Diindolylmethane supplements are purported to aid other hormone-related conditions. Still, it’s essential to remember that research is lacking on these fronts.
1. May fight acne
Diindolylmethane supplements are sometimes used to treat hormonal acne. However, no study currently backs this use.
2. May minimize hot flashes
Hot flashes during menopause probably result from hormonal changes. While Diindolylmethane supplements are used to reduce hot flashes, their effectiveness isn’t supported by research.
3. May relieve PMS symptoms
PMS symptoms are understood to be due to monthly changes in estrogen levels. Again, some people use DIM supplements to reduce symptoms, but research hasn’t confirmed their effectiveness.
4. May correct estrogen imbalances in men
High levels of estrogen in men are linked to breast growth, erectile dysfunction, and infertility. DIM supplements may be useful but haven’t yet been studied in humans.
Possible Side Effects
To date, minimal information is known about the safety of using DIM supplements in the long term or regularly.
Due to DIM’s potential to affect estrogen metabolism, there’s some concern that taking diindolylmethane supplements could aggravate hormone-sensitive conditions (including endometriosis, hormone-dependent cancers, and uterine fibroids).
According to one study, an otherwise healthy woman reported CSC (central serous chorioretinopathy), which resulted in visual impairment—after excessive daily intake of DIM for 2 months. After discontinuing the supplements, her symptoms subsided after 8 weeks.
A skin rash with eosinophilia (heightened levels of eosinophils frequently occurring in response to some form of an allergic reaction or drug reaction) was reported following diindolylmethane use. Joint and muscle and pain, particularly in the knees and hips, have been reported.
Given the safety concerns, it’s essential to seek medical advice before using DIM supplements. Women who are nursing or pregnant shouldn’t take DIM supplements. Also, patients who are being treated for cancer should not take it without a physician’s prescription.
You may get additional tips on using supplements. Still, it’s essential to note that self-treating a chronic condition with DIM and delaying or avoiding standard care can have severe consequences.
Preparation and Dosage
There is not adequate scientific proof to determine a safe or effective dose of DIM supplements. Health sources warn consumers that natural supplements are not always safe, and dosages can significantly impact side effects and safety. It is essential to get personalized advice from your medical practitioner to determine the relevant dose for you.
What to Look For
DIM is produced when the body digests indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in the following veggies:
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
DIM is also available in supplement form, sold in stores specializing in dietary supplements and natural-food stores. Because of a lack of scientific proof, it’s too soon to suggest diindolylmethane supplements as a standard treatment for any health issue.
However, increasing your diindolylmethane levels by including indole-3-carbinol-containing cruciferous veggies in your diet can help enhance your overall health. Cruciferous veggies are rich in several health-promoting substances, including antioxidants.