Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a plant compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale. DIM benefits extend to nearly all aspects of your personal health. Before we discuss the important uses of DIM, it is important to talk about the potential side effects and when one shouldn't be taking DIM.
DIM Side Effects and Interactions
DIM is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA since it is derived from vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. In animal studies of diindolylmethane rats were given up to 20 mg/kg per day of DIM. At the end of the study, researchers collected blood and organ samples to compare serum characteristics and vitamin D levels and determine any significant histological changes.
Results of this study found no significant differences in serum chemistries or changes to the bones, livers, or kidneys of the rats studied. These results suggest that DIM presents no side effects to immature or adult rats despite receiving a serving size ten times that of what is normally considered to be therapeutic.14
DIM for men and women is considered to be safe when consumed at doses of 100-300mg daily. People taking larger doses such as 600 mg each day have reported side effects such as headaches, upset stomachs, and reduced sodium levels.2
You should avoid taking a DIM supplement if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
DIM can sometimes affect how the liver breaks down certain medications. It may decrease the effectiveness of drugs which are metabolized by the liver, such as imipramine (Tofranil), propranolol (Inderal), and olanzapine (Zyprexa).
The Benefits of DIM
DIM has shown to have a number of health benefits. DIM benefits include supporting a healthy menopausal transition, promoting hormonal balance in those with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS often have hormonal imbalances that cause hirsutism (unwanted hair growth on the face and body) and acne. Research also shows promising anti-tumor activity of DIM.1
DIM for Acne
While research has yet to determine a singular physiological cause for acne or why some are more predisposed to acne, there are a variety of factors that may contribute to acne, including genetics, your environment, and the food you eat.
DIM is particularly beneficial for hormonal acne – the type which occurs during times of hormonal fluctuations, such as adolescence and menopause.3 Androgens (such as testosterone) are male hormones which occur in the bodies of men and women. They stimulate increased sebum production which contributes to acne.4
DIM was found to have antiandrogen effects.5 This effects may be helpful in decreasing sebum production in acne-prone men and women.
There are many acne products on the market, from creams to facial scrubs, toners to acne soaps. The difference with DIM is that it supports clearer skin from the inside.
DIM for PCOS
Sex hormones can be categorized into two basic categories, female hormones like estrogen and progesterone and male hormones like testosterone. Both are present in varying amounts in males and females.
PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormone disorder involving the sex hormones. PCOS is also characterized by the formation of numerous small collections of fluid known as follicles around the ovaries. This may result in enlarged ovaries and a failure to release eggs regularly, impairing fertility.
PCOS causes irregular menstrual periods, insulin resistance, and hyperandrogenism (too much testosterone and other male hormones). Hyperandrogenism can lead to symptoms such as hirsutism (increased facial hair growth), acne, and hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).
Because of DIM’s selective estrogen activation and antiandrogen effects, it may be helpful for PCOS symptoms.7
DIM for Menopause
During a normal menstrual cycle, levels of estrogen and progesterone normally oscillate between high and low levels. However, during menopause, estrogen levels decrease as the ovaries stop responding to signals from the pituitary gland. Depleted levels of estrogen result in the common symptoms of menopause:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
DIM has been shown to act selectively on estrogen receptors, which means that it only activates some estrogen receptors.8 By interacting with estrogen receptors, DIM may be helpful for menopausal symptoms.19
Estrogen receptors are found all over the body:
- Brain: In the brain estrogen has an effect on neurons. Mice without estrogen receptors display depression-like behavior.9 Modulating estrogen receptors in the brain can help reduce some of menopause’s mood symptoms.
- Skin: Estrogen increases the amount of collagen in the skin and promotes skin thickness.10 Decreased levels of estrogen during menopause can cause thinning of the skin and hair loss.
- Bones: Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining bone density. Women are more prone to osteoporosis after menopause as their bone density decreases dramatically.
DIM for Hair Loss
Hair loss is often to excess DHT. Through its antiandrogen (anti-DHT) effects20, DIM may be able to help with hair loss.
DIM for Estrogen Dominance
Multiple studies have suggested that DIM works on estrogen receptors. By binding to a estrogen receptor, DIM could block excess estrogen in estrogen-dominant persons from binding to estrogen receptors.19
DIM for Inflammation
Research suggests a correlation between chronic inflammation and the growth and proliferation of cancer cells, and several studies have been conducted to determine if DIM has a potential effect on acute and chronic inflammation. In one rodent study, researchers examined the effects of DIM on mouse macrophages.
The study found that DIM significantly reduced the release and production of nitric oxide, prostaglandins, interleukin, and other pro-inflammatory mediators. DIM also inhibited the increase of protein levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase. This means that DIM effectively inhibited the release of pro-inflammatory mediators in mouse macrophages, which suggests that DIM may help to regulate inflammatory responses.16
DIM for Antioxidant Potential
Natural oxidation reactions in the body give way to the production of compounds known as free radicals. These compounds can damage cells and your very DNA, resulting in oxidative stress, which may contribute to physical signs of aging and chronic health issues. Antioxidants can help to neutralize free radical activity, preventing the harmful effects of oxidative stress.
Studies suggest that DIM presents some potential antioxidant activity. In one review, scientists examined recent advances that have found that natural compounds isoflavone, DIM, and indole-3-carbinol (a natural precursor to DIM) have been found to possess antioxidant properties that may help to reduce oxidative stress.
Research suggests that the main mechanism of action involves inhibiting a protein complex known as nuclear factor kappa B. Activation of nuclear factor kappa B is well-known to play a significant role in inflammation, oxidative stress, and carcinogenesis. DIM may also regulate several cellular signaling pathways that contribute to oxidative stress.17
DIM for Weight Loss
A DIM supplement for weight loss may help you maintain a healthy weight. In one study, researchers studied the effects of the DIM precursor indole-3-carbinol on obese mice fed a high-fat diet. In the trial, 18 male mice were assigned to one of three groups: a control group, a high-fat group, and a high-fat group administered with indole-3-carbinol. The latter group was given 5 mg/kg of indole-3-carbinol per day. After 12 weeks of treatment, researchers measured various factors associated with obesity, including body weight and serum concentrations of triacylglycerol, glucose, and adipokines.
Results of the study found that body fat and adipose tissue were higher in the high fat mice. By comparison, the high fat mice given indole-3-carbinol had improved glucose tolerance, decreased body weight, and lower measures for most serum-based obesity factors. These results suggest that indole-3-carbinol may present antiobesity activity, allowing for reduced body weight and fat accumulation.13,18 This may make a DIM supplement for weight loss a valid option for those looking to lose weight naturally.
DIM for Men
DIM may be helpful for men as well. DIM for men may be particularly beneficial for prostate health. Studies have noted that DIM inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis (cell death) in prostate cancer cells.11, 12
Although DIM is not suitable for everyone, DIM appears to have benefits for both men and women, and DIM side effects are minimal. It may help to support acne relief, healthy menopause, and prostate health.
If you’re looking for a quality DIM supplement, DrFormulas® DIM Plus BioPerine for Men & Women provides a convenient once-daily dose of all the DIM you need.
DrFormulas® DIM Plus Bioperine Supplement is specially formulated to support hormone balance. What’s more, it contains an optimal dose of BioPerine® for enhanced absorption and bioavailability. It is made in the U.S. and is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, contains no GMOs and is suitable for vegans.