Ingested glucobrassicin is catalyzed via the enzyme Myrosinase (stored in vegetables) and turns into Indole-3-Carbinol, which is rapidly digested into both DIM and various other metabolites in the human stomach via acid-mediated condensation reactions.
DIM has started picking up steam as a supplement of choice to deal with a variety of issues such as acne, PMS, mood swings, fibroids, menopause symptoms, and even things like man boobs. DIM restores healthy hormone balance by adjusting the balance of bad estrogens to good estrogens, and it blocks aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen.
Proponents claim that consuming diindolylmethane can help increase your defense against several types of cancer, as well as promote detoxification, and support weight loss.
1DIM can help manage and possibly treat various cancers. According to a 2014 study conducted in Haifa, Israel, DIM was effective when preventing not only breast cancer but also prostate cancer when tested with animal models (3).
DIM inhibited the proliferation of and caused the death of cancer cells in both cases. Findings indicated significant clinical improvement against control groups, but it was also noted that no adverse side effects occurred during the study.
DIM is also diverse enough as an anticancer agent to be used to treat uterine cancer. In a 2001 study, it was found to significantly interact with uterine cancer cells (4).
When administered to uterine cancer cells, both cell growth and cell density were markedly lower in the treated group as opposed to the control group. Researchers concluded that it had a strong anti-proliferative effect against cancer cells.
Another area that has been extensively researched is DIM’s proficiency as a therapeutic treatment for prostate cancer (5).
According to a 2010 study, usage of DIM was both well-tolerated, and a moderate efficacy was demonstrated when used to treat prostate cancer that hadn’t yet metastasized (6).
In other words, it wasn’t a miracle treatment, but it helped when treating prostate cancer. It also didn’t have any legitimately bad side effects that happened when the treatment was administered.
Another study posited that due to the way DIM affects cancer cells, engineering a treatment based on it that chemosensitizes cells can be developed (7).
Basically, DIM could help make existing cancer treatments more effective, helping to heal even aggressive cancers that are hard to treat with chemotherapy alone.
When taken as a supplement, DIM may be an effective preventative treatment for thyroid cancer. When tested in patients who had thyroid proliferative disease (TPD), DIM was found to both enhance estrogen metabolism and even serve as an antiestrogenic dietary supplement (8).
After 14 days of supplementation, DIM could be detected in thyroid tissue, serum, and urine of patients involved in the trial. Researchers concluded that because DIM was discovered within the thyroid tissue itself, its effects as an antiestrogenic agent could legitimately be used to treat thyroid cancer and other diseases of the thyroid.
The anti-estrogenic effects of DIM aren’t just limited to a certain arena. According to a 2011 study, it inhibited the proliferation of thyroid cancer cells as well as many of the internal events related to metastasis (the spread of cancer cells throughout the body) such as adhesion, migration, and invasion (9).
The researchers concluded that this could lead to either complete treatments or therapeutic dietary supplements being developed for thyroid cancer using DIM as a base.
Many studies support the possible use of DIM as a therapy for cancers of the digestive and excretory system, like colon cancer. According to a recent (2016) review, DIM takes several different pathways to inhibit the growth and spread of such cancers (10).
It affects a range of factors from apoptosis (cell death) to metastasis (cancer spread) to angiogenesis (the formation of new blood pathways within a cancerous growth). It’s been shown to concretely induce apoptosis in colon cancer cells as well (11).
The same review stated that based on the evidence, it had a lot of potential to offer not just as an anticancer treatment, but also as a potential therapeutic agent to relieve some of cancer’s most unpleasant symptoms. Furthermore, DIM is perhaps even more effective as a treatment when combined with normal therapies for colorectal cancer.
In one study, DIM was combined with butyrate (a conventional chemopreventive treatment for cancer), and the anticancer effects of both were improved when the two were put together while treating colon cancer in mice (12).
Finally, DIM may simply just be a great colon cancer prevention supplement, even before a given patient is actually diagnosed with cancer. Eating cruciferous vegetables (the kind that contain DIM) has been linked with much lower levels of colon cancer (13).
2DIM can be used to help treat enlarged prostate. Enlarged prostate, otherwise known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, is actually a complex bodily condition that doesn’t necessarily have any easy treatments (14).
However, a growing body of research suggests that DIM may be a possible avenue of treatment for the condition, though results as of yet are still inconsistent due to small sample sizes and inconsistent standard of experimentation (15).
More research is required to establish DIM as such a treatment, though the outlook so far is promising.
3DIM can be used as a treatment for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). As a regulator of estrogen DIM may even help women regulate premenstrual syndrome by inhibiting estrogen production or at least minimizing any harmful effects associated with estrogen levels in the body. PMS has been shown to have a large effect on personality traits of women suffering from it, contributing not only with depressive symptoms but also with mood swings, food cravings and other erratic behaviors (16).
DIM supplementation may help certain women cope with the negative emotional effects of an unpleasant PMS experience (17).
This benefit, however, isn’t quite as well established as DIM’s effects as an anticancer regulator and as a treatment for conditions such as HPV and enlarged prostate. More research is needed to shed light onto DIM’s possible positive relationship with PMS.
4DIM modulates the body’s estrogen production in a positive way. While DIM in some cases acts the same way that estrogen does, some research suggests that it may actually inhibit estrogen production when it gets to a harmful point in the body. That is exactly why DIM is such an effective treatment for so many different kinds of cancers; it regulates the body’s most harmful usage of estrogen in hormonal cancers and in doing so, helps to stop cancer cells from proliferating and growing, creating blood vessels to feed themselves, and more (18).
Such positive benefits apply not only to breast and uterine cancers, but also to prostate cancer, and thyroid cancer, among other varieties.
5DIM might be able to fight human papillomavirus or HPV. DIM has been shown to help combat some of the effects of human papillomavirus (HPV). In one study, it helped treat recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), a common complication associated with HPV infection wherein cell growths spread throughout the respiratory system (19).
While normally a benign condition, it can prove fatal, especially in children if not appropriately treated (20).
One study found that it was an effective treatment for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, even despite a mixed bag of responses. Some patients had a full and benign response to DIM treatment, while others responded only partially, and on others, it had no effect at all. Regardless, the evidence suggests that DIM is at least one potential option for treating RRP.
6DIM can protect the liver. DIM exerts an anti-fibrosis, anti-tumor, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, detoxification, and anti-inflammation effects on liver protection. It also reduces microbial-induced liver injuries (21).
DIM ameliorates experimental liver fibrosis induced by thioacetamide in mice (22).
In one study, DIM blocked Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) cell metastasis by suppressing tumor cell migration and invasion in mice (23).
DIM reduces steatosis and the progression of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) in methionine-choline–diet-induced NASH in mice. This was by the induction of Treg dominance to reduce intrahepatic inflammation (24).
Diindolylmethane could effectively suppress acute liver inflammation caused by Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B (SEB) and thus reduced SEB-mediated liver injury in mice (25).
7DIM may prevent weight gain. One 2011 study using Indole-3-Carbinol (the precursor to DIM) noted that 5mg injections into the gut daily was able to attenuate the expected gain in body fat associated with a high fat/calorie diet (26).
1DIM might make hormone-based conditions, like endometriosis or certain cancers, worse. While DIM is often used as a treatment for hormone-based conditions and cancers, there is some concern that it may actually worsen certain hormone conditions because of the way it inhibits the production of estrogen in the body. In one study on breast cancer cells, for example, scientists found that low amounts of DIM actually increased cell growth and proliferation rather than inhibiting it (27).
It’s not clear exactly why this happens in some cases, or whether or not increasing the dosage of DIM would do the reverse and help treat cancerous cells, especially when the body of scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of DIM supplementation as an effective cancer treatment, especially when combined with more conventional therapies. It could be due to DIM’s activation of certain estrogen mechanisms in the body. Regardless, users suffering from hormonal conditions should think carefully and thoroughly consult their doctor before starting to supplement with DIM.
2DIM may cause mild nausea or diarrhea. According to one study, DIM caused nausea and diarrhea when tested with patients who had prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (28).
That said, only three adverse events were recorded, and they occurred with only two patients out of a total of fourteen. And besides that result, the researchers concluded that DIM was indeed well tolerated, making it a relatively safe option for most patients who need to use it as a cancer treatment.
So in total, DIM’s possible negative effects on gastrointestinal health are probably few and far between. However, if you notice such symptoms shortly after starting a new regimen of DIM, it’s likely best to stop supplementing and see if they get better, as it could be a sign that DIM is not well-tolerated by your body.
3DIM has been shown to affect the testes. According to one study, DIM had side effects on some sperm characteristics led to the histological degeneration of testicular tissues in male rats (29).
A supplemental dose of approximately 100mg DIM has been noted to alter urinary estrogens in a manner thought to reflect less estrogenicity. There is as of yet, no recommended dosage for DIM offered by governing bodies like the CDC or the FDA for cancer treatments.
The right dosage depends on what condition is being treated, as well as the user’s health at the time. Though like any other supplement, starting small and slowly ramping up the dosage is probably the best option.
Diindolylmethane is well tolerated at single doses of up to 200 mg, according to a randomized study conducted in healthy subjects (30).
Also, oral DIM at 2mg/kg/day is well tolerated with no significant toxicity according to another randomized controlled pilot study (31).
Do I need to supplement with DIM? No, nobody absolutely needs to supplement with DIM. DIM is naturally produced by your body, and it can also be found as an ingredient in cruciferous vegetables, so supplementing with it isn’t necessary. Eating cruciferous vegetables is also associated with a wide range of health benefits that one may not necessarily get if you only take DIM by supplement, such as improved cardiovascular health (32).
However, supplementing does have very real uses for some treatment cases, such as preventing cancer treatments. Simply eating vegetables may not give you a high enough dosage of DIM for you to reap the anticancer benefits in such a case.
Can I take DIM if I’m pregnant? Unfortunately, DIM’s effects have not been established in terms of pregnant or breastfeeding women. As a supplement that changes the way your body produces and uses hormones, DIM is not a good choice for pregnant women. In particular, DIM has been noted as a supplement that has a large effect on the way your body produces and uses estrogen, which could be dangerous for the health of a fetus. Testosterone and estrogen levels play a big part in any healthy pregnancy.
Will DIM solve cancer if I already have it? Unfortunately, DIM isn’t some kind of magical treatment for cancer. Taking huge doses of DIM without consulting your doctor is probably not the best way to treat a case of cancer. However, as stated in this article, DIM does have marked anticancer effects, and it’s been shown to be effective not just in preventing cancer in the first place, but also in treating it and improving the efficacy of other anticancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.
It can be a part of a comprehensive treatment plan. That said, if you’re already on a cancer treatment regimen, it’s best to contact your doctor about supplementing with DIM to avoid any possible interactions or unforeseen consequences with the rest of your treatment.
Is DIM safe to take? Yes, DIM is safe to take. In the great majority of its listed clinical trials, essentially no side effects or drug interactions have been noted. The worst that’s been listed has been a mild case of diarrhea or nausea.
Can kids take DIM? DIM has not yet been established as a safe supplement for children, especially young ones. One study from 2009 found that, when tested on immature rats, even abnormally high doses of DIM didn’t have any adverse effects on the rats or their hormonal systems (34).
That said, this study in particular only aimed to establish DIM’s safety as a treatment for recurrent respiratory papilloma (RRP), a possible complication resulting from HPV. There are still not very many DIM studies that incorporate immature subjects. That’s especially true when it comes to possible human subjects. As such, children should refrain from taking DIM unless it’s specifically offered as a treatment for RRP by a qualified doctor.
Does DIM have any drug interactions I should know about? While it’s not clear exactly what drug interactions DIM supplement users may need to worry about, research shows that it does activate certain receptors in the human body (namely the CYP3A4 and MDR1 genes) that are sometimes used to transport and metabolize drugs (35).
As such, users should only take DIM after contacting their doctor about it if they are also taking other medications on a regular basis.
What is the best time of day to take DIM? While there is no established best time of day to take DIM, like most supplements it can safely be taken after meals, a couple of times a day depending upon the dosage. Especially if it’s a new supplement that a user has just started, taking it on a totally empty stomach is not recommended.
Can I take DIM if I have a liver or kidney disease? Unfortunately, taking DIM while you have a liver or kidney disease may not be the best idea. That’s because of the fact that DIM may inhibit certain kinds of enzymes that are present in or created by your liver which regulate your body’s toxins and metabolic processes.
Furthermore, just like for pregnant women, DIM’s effects on people who suffer from a liver or kidney disease haven’t really been very well-researched, so there isn’t concrete evidence on exactly how dangerous such supplementation may be and in what way. As such, if you suffer from a liver or kidney disease, it’s best to contact your doctor or specialist before starting any new DIM supplementation.
Does DIM lower testosterone? No, DIM does not lower testosterone. DIM inhibits aromatase, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen.
Can DIM help with acne? DIM helps improve—and even eliminate—acne by preventing potentially harmful androgens from getting into their receptors.
Does DIM change urine color? DIM supplements or DIM-rich foods can change the color of your urine. The darkened urine, as a result of DIM intake, is often tea-colored or dark brown. While this can be an alarming side effect, it is a natural result of increased consumption of DIM.
Is DIM bad for the thyroid? To date, no human study has been published regarding the bioavailability of DIM in thyroid tissue or its effects in proliferative thyroid disease.
Can Dim cause liver damage? There is no evidence to link DIM and liver damage.
Does DIM prevent breast cancer? There is no conclusive evidence it 100% prevents breast cancer. Studies suggest that DIM may benefit patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and help reverse cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. DIM supplementation resulted in changes in estrogen urinary metabolites in post-menopausal women with a history of early-stage breast cancer.
Does DIM cause hot flashes? No, in fact, it helps manage it. DIM promotes proper hormone metabolism and helps improve estrogen/ progesterone equilibrium to steady the hot flashes and related symptoms.
What foods contain DIM? DIM and its precursors can be found in a number of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, rutabaga, and turnip.
DIM, a substance that can be normally found in cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy, cabbage, and broccoli, has numerous health benefits and generally isn’t associated with a bevy of negative side effects.
Its most salient use is as an anticancer treatment. DIM doesn’t only prevent cancer when taken in regularly but also acts as an anticancer agent even in patients who are currently diagnosed with cancer or going through a treatment regimen for it. DIM has been shown to prevent cell growth and proliferation in cancerous tumors. It also generally increases the efficacy of other, more conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. In addition, DIM can help treat other conditions as well, such as enlarged prostate or human papillomavirus (HPV).
Despite being well-tolerated in clinical trials, DIM’s side effects haven’t been extensively studied, with only a select few studies looking into its possibility for adverse effects. As such, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and those suffering from hormonal diseases should always contact their doctor if they are considering starting a round of DIM supplementation. Its safety has not yet been established for such populations.