Diindolylmethane, more commonly abbreviated to DIM, is a beneficial supplement that can help our body regulate itself more efficiently.
What is DIM Supplement?
A DIM supplement is a nutritional supplement composed of a phytochemical that our body naturally produces by breaking down a compound in our diet. More specifically, DIM (diindolylmethane) is produced when we eat cruciferous vegetables, which are often recommended in a healthy diet. There is a compound in cruciferous vegetables, called indole-3-carbinol, which will break down to diindolylmethane during the digestive process and be used by the body for a number of essential purposes.
Although our bodies are remarkably well-designed machines, there are times when supplementing certain nutrients and natural compounds can aid our overall health, particularly if we are suffering from a disease or recovering from an illness. Adding DIM supplements to your diet can help to strengthen the reactivity and response time of your immune system, among others, despite the relative dearth of conclusive research on the subject.
What is DIM Supplement Used For?
DIM is particularly interesting to researchers because of its estrogen-like qualities, along with its paradoxical abilities to control an excessive amount of estrogen production.
Similarly, some studies have found that diindolylmethane can also control the levels of testosterone in the body, by preventing the transition of testosterone into estrogen when an excess of aromatase enzyme is present, which places this supplement in the realm of an aromatase inhibitor.
It is also commonly used as preventative medicine for cancer by non-traditional healers, due to its purported anti-cancer effects.
IS DIM an Estrogen Blocker?
While estrogen is the hormone typically associated with females, it is also present in males, and the balance of testosterone and estrogen in the body can have noticeable side effects when out of balance. As mentioned above, increased levels of DIM in your system can inhibit the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in men.
For women, an excess of estrogen (commonly known as “estrogen dominance”) can result in unpleasant menstrual symptoms, including heavy periods, shorter cycles, and more severe physiological side effects to the mood and energy levels. DIM can mitigate the level of estrogen in the body by stimulating the breakdown of estrogen in beneficial metabolites.
Benefits of DIM
There are a number of positive effects of DIM in the body, but there has been a decided lack of research on this substance or its potential impact on long-term health. Some of the benefits being researched include a positive impact on cancerous cell growth, reduction in acne, prevention of an enlarged prostate, and treatment of the premenstrual syndrome.
Having too much estrogen in the body can increase the risk of breast cancer, along with cervical cancer and ovarian cancer. The fact that DIM can stimulate the breakdown of estrogen into healthy byproducts means that it is a promising complementary treatment to cancer, but more research is required, beyond the work of Dr. Thomson, Ho, and Strom in Nutrition Reviews.
As stated in Clinical Naturopathy: In Practice, by regulating the levels of both testosterone and estrogen, it can help to reduce hormonal breakouts of acne, particularly those that occur around the time of menstruation in so many women, a condition known as cystic acne.
Again, due to the effect that DIM can have on estrogen, including its breakdown into more beneficial metabolites, some men use this supplement to manage their prostate size. The byproduct of this estrogen breakdown process is linked to lower inflammation levels and can control other symptoms related to prostatitis, such as incontinence and other issues related to urination.
Estrogen dominance can have a negative effect on both mental and physical health of women, so using DIM to control estrogen levels and mitigate PMS symptoms is a very common practice, although there is a lack of concrete evidence supporting this correlation.
An average diet will likely contain less than 25 mg of diindolylmethane per day, yet some supplements may offer more than 500mg in a daily dose.
The appropriate amount for each individual will depend on a number of factors, including age, weight, prior medical conditions, and current medications.
Different DIM products will also have different concentrations and compositions, so always read the label and directions carefully. Before adding a DIM supplement to your diet, be sure to speak with your doctor about any risks or potential interactions.
Natural Sources of DIM
As mentioned above, the primary natural sources of DIM (diindolylmethane) is cruciferous vegetables, such as:
There has been no clear evidence that using DIM supplements is dangerous or has an implicit risk, but certain side effects have been reported when the supplement is not taken in moderation, or in conjunction with other medications. Children, pregnant women, and those who are breastfeeding can consume small amounts of this supplement, but not much more than the daily intake one would get from food, which could be in the range of 25-50 mg.
If you suffer from hormone-related conditions, the addition of more estrogen-like compounds could exacerbate the problems, such as in the case of endometriosis, ovarian cancer or uterine fibroids.
Negative interactions with diuretic medications and liver medications have also been reported, as DIM may speed up how quickly medications are broken down in the liver.
Some other possible side effects from this supplement include vomiting, headaches, nausea, rashes, and hyponatremia.