(Diindolylmethane) (DIM) is a compound created when digesting cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Research indicates that DIM affects estrogen levels in your body and as a result DIM supplements have gained popularity as a potential treatment for a variety of hormone-related conditions including: So, acne, menopause symptoms, prostate problems, and certain types of cancer. However, you might wonder if these uses are supported by scientific evidence so this article provides a comprehensive overview of DIM supplements including its benefits and side effects.
What are DIM supplements?
When you eat cruciferous vegetables, your stomach acid breaks down a compound called indole-3-carbinol to produce a new compound called DIM. Interestingly, observational studies link high intake of cruciferous vegetables with a reduced risk of some types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer.
While the exact mechanism is unknown, indole-3-carbinol is believed to be partially responsible. Although the research on DIM is still very limited, it is believed to help balance the levels of estrogen in your body and specifically DIM may stimulate the production of a less effective and more beneficial form of estrogen known as 2-hydroxyestrone.
It may also help reduce the effects of a stronger form called 16-alpha-hydroxyesterone, which has been linked to weight gain and an increased risk of some types of cancer, including breast and uterine cancer. Additionally, DIM has been shown to inhibit an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone into estrogen. To treat a specific condition such as acne or prostate problems, they may need a high concentrated dose of DIM supplement.
Potential uses and benefits of DIM supplements
DIM supplements are being studied for their protective effects against some types of cancer and are also used to help prevent enlarged prostate, treat acne, aid in weight loss, and reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms. While these benefits are promising, comprehensive research on DIM’s effectiveness and long-term safety in humans is limited.
It may have anticancer effects
Test-tube and animal studies indicate that DIM supplementation may help prevent the growth and spread of breast cancer cells. However, human studies are limited as one year-long study gave 130 women with breast cancer on tamoxifen treatment as either a placebo or 150 mg of DIM twice a day.
DIM supplementation significantly improved the ratio of two types of estrogen – 2-hydroxyestrone and 16-hydroxyesterone. Although research continues, increasing the ratio of 2-hydrozyestrone to 16-hydrozyesterone may reduce the risk of breast cancer and cause anti-tumor effects.
A 30-day study in 19 postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer found that taking 108 mg of DIM daily also led to beneficial changes in estrogen levels, and test tube and animal studies indicate that DIM protects against ovarian cancer. And the prostate and the colon, too.
With that being said, human studies are needed but remarkably, one study in mice found that DIM helped prevent cervical cancer. However, in a 6-month study in 551 women with cervical abnormalities, taking 150 mg of DIM per day had no effect on cervical cell changes.
It may protect against prostate problems
DIM supplements may protect against enlarged prostate and prostate cancer. In fact, it may help fight prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), a condition characterized by the growth of prostate cells and considered a precursor to prostate cancer.
In a 12-month study, 21 men with a high-quality PIN were given either a placebo or 900 mg of DIM per day. Those given DIM experienced significant improvements in prostate health as well as PIN.
It may increase weight loss
Given that estrogen plays an important role in regulating fat accumulation, DIM supplementation may aid in weight loss and although there is no human research currently supporting this effect.
Despite this, studies link an estrogen imbalance either too much or too little to an increased risk of weight gain in both men and women. Moreover, DIM supplementation may stimulate lipid breakdown and inhibit the formation of fat cells.
In one study in mice that followed a high-fat diet, 23 mg of DIM per pound (50 mg per kg) of body weight significantly reduced the formation of new fat cells but bear in mind that human studies are required.
Other potential uses and benefits
DIM supplementation is claimed to help other hormone-related conditions. However, it is important to remember that research lacks all of these effects. Other benefits include:
May fight acne: So DIM supplements are sometimes used to treat hormonal acne however there is no research currently supporting this use as it might reduce hot flashes. It’s possible that hot flashes during menopause are caused by hormonal changes. While DIM supplements are used to reduce hot flashes, their effectiveness does not support them.
May relieve PMS symptoms: It was believed that PMS symptoms were caused by monthly changes in estrogen levels. Again, some people use DIM supplements to reduce symptoms, but research has not confirmed their effectiveness
It may correct male estrogen imbalances: High levels of estrogen in men are associated with breast growth, erectile dysfunction, and infertility. DIM supplementation may be effective but has not yet been studied in humans.
Possible side effects and precautions
Due to a lack of research in humans, little is known about the long-term safety and side effects of DIM supplementation. Current human research doesn’t show that DIM supplements are toxic or have dangerous side effects.
The most common side effects include dark urine, increased bowel movements, and headache. Less common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin rashes. Because DIM supplements interact with estrogen levels, they may affect people with hormone-sensitive cancers or who are undergoing hormone therapy.
These individuals should stay away from DIM supplements only under the supervision of a medical professional regardless of your medical history and it is important to consult a healthcare provider before taking these supplements.
How much DIM should you take?
Due to limited research, appropriate dosages for DIM are unknown. In human research, dosages typically range from 108-900 mg per day although these studies have only been linked to cancer treatments and enlarged prostate.
However, a study in 24 healthy people found that although DIM doses of up to 200 mg were well tolerated and did not cause side effects, one person experienced nausea, headache, and vomiting after taking a 300 mg dose, indicating that higher doses may Associated with harmful side effects.
Other uses of DIM supplements such as weight loss and acne treatment have not been studied in humans. Therefore it is best to speak to your healthcare provider for personalized dosage recommendations based on the purpose of use.
Abstract of the article
DIM is a compound that your body excretes when you eat cruciferous vegetables. It is also concentrated and sold as a supplement. Since it affects estrogen levels, DIM may help treat a variety of conditions including hormone-sensitive cancers and prostate problems.
However, more studies are needed, especially for acne-related uses, weight loss, and PMS symptoms, which are not currently supported by human research. Hence, you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking DIM supplements. Regardless of the effectiveness of DIM, it is always a good idea to eat more cruciferous vegetables. After all, vegetables like broccoli and kale are rich sources of important nutrients including fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.