Broccoli, Brussels, cabbage, cauliflower: what do they all have in common? Other than being what some might call an acquired taste, they’re an excellent source of folate, fiber, and vitamins C, E, and K. Just as importantly (but less commonly discussed), they all also contain a plant compound called diindolylmethane (DIM).
DIM is a metabolite of indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, which is said to stimulate detoxifying enzymes that are found in the liver and gut. This action is essential to happier hormones because we know that the microbiome is a key player in regulating hormones, especially estrogen levels. When I3C comes into contact with your stomach acid (via a forkful of broccoli or a supplement), it sparks a chemical reaction that converts it to DIM. That’s when our bodies start to benefit!
Research shows that DIM can reduce the risk of estrogen-driven cancers—such as breast cancer and cervical cancer—by supporting healthy estrogen metabolism and promoting estrogen and testosterone balance. Another small study found that DIM may also have protective benefits against thyroid disorders, which are four to five times more likely to affect women than men.
DIM has also been shown to protect against acne, support healthy weight balance, and help with menopause—all side effects of those imbalanced hormones that we’re working each day to fix.
Sounds pretty good, right?
If you’re anything like I was when I first began this hormonal health journey, you’re likely all ears when it comes to a natural and holistic solution for alleviating discomfort. That’s why I’m here today to share everything you need to know to help yourself. Stay with me for a deep dive on DIM’s ability to restore healthy hormone balance and how that’s major for anyone living with PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, or acne.
Here are some common hormonal issues DIM can help with:
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of infertility among women of reproductive age. This hormonal imbalance can cause weight gain, acne, and irregular periods, as well as more severe consequences like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Today, conventional medicine often points to oral contraceptive pills as the first line of defense against the condition, but the FLO Living team believes in taking a different path. Our focus (backed by science) is a more integrative approach to regulating hormones. After all, if you can utilize food, supplements, and lifestyle changes to address the root cause of your PCOS, why wouldn’t you?
For example, a recent case study highlighted a 21-year-old woman with PCOS who was suffering from irregular periods, acne, and hirsutism (excess hair that usually grows around the mouth and chin). Since the woman preferred a natural approach to care, she worked with her practitioner to create a treatment plan which included acupuncture, as well as DIM and vitex agnus-castus. After 10 months, the woman regained a regular menstrual cycle and a more balanced level of testosterone in her body. Such a powerful example of advocating for your own health!
While more clinical research is needed to further support cases like this, preclinical data shows that DIM provides beneficial effects on estrogen metabolism and its antiandrogen effects. To clarify, this means that DIM plays a role in reducing or blocking the effects of androgens (male hormones), like testosterone on the body. This is important because research shows that an excess of androgens may play a role in the development of PCOS, and may certainly contribute to some of those unpleasant side effects and flare-ups.
Fibroids and heavy bleeding
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that develop in the wall of the uterus and can range in size from very tiny (the size of a pea) to very large (the size of a melon). Some women have no symptoms, but for others, these fibroids can cause heavy periods, painful intercourse, frequent urination, bloating, and reproductive problems. This translates to major discomfort, especially during events which should be fun—like beach vacations and sex!
Although uterine fibroids can be unpleasant, they’re actually pretty common. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 80-90% of African American women and 70% of white women will develop fibroids by age 50.
So what can we do about it?
Again, a primary treatment for fibroids is a prescription for the birth control pill, but a smarter way to treat uterine fibroids is by actually understanding and addressing the root cause. If you’re suffering from uterine fibroids or heavy bleeding and you aren’t interested in birth control or surgery like a myomectomy, then why not consider DIM supplements? DIM is known to reduce harmful estrogen metabolites and just might provide that relief you’re looking for.
Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when endometrial tissue (normally found in the uterus) grows outside the uterus. If you or a loved one suffers from endometriosis, you don’t need me to tell you how painful and debilitating the condition can be.
And if you are suffering, know you’re not alone. According to the latest count, more than 11% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 are living with this often painful condition. Unfortunately, the number might even be higher because many women with endometriosis aren’t diagnosed right away. In fact, the average delay in diagnosis is nearly seven whole years.
One of the things that researchers are still working on is the best way to treat endometriosis. That’s why it’s my mission to help women realize that while there’s no one specific cure, there are countless resources to get help and get it sooner. Supplements like DIM can balance hormones and reduce inflammation which can drastically ameliorate endometriosis symptoms and improve quality of life.
A study from a few years ago looked at supplementing dienogest, a standard endometriosis treatment, with DIM in order to help with irregular bleeding. The results found that women who added DIM to their treatment plan experienced decreased pelvic pain and improved menstrual bleeding. DIM also showed a decrease in endometrial cell life which could mean that the cells would have less time to grow on the pelvic walls and cause heavy, painful periods.
Acne … you didn’t want it when you were a teenager and you definitely don’t want it as an adult. But what can you do? Well, as I’ve said before, knowledge is power when it comes to hormonal acne.
Our hormones naturally shift throughout the monthly menstrual cycle, and when they’re imbalanced, it can lead to pesky problems like acne. Hormonal breakouts tend to present during the luteal (premenstrual) phase, and are most often along the chin and jawline. Pimples on your forehead can signify a gut imbalance, and a breakout on the temple usually means liver congestion due to an excess of estrogen.
Hormone-driven and inflammation-driven acne are both caused by imbalances inside the body and the right supplements can make the difference between improving your acne versus addressing the root cause and clearing it for good. When you supplement with DIM, it works to promote beneficial estrogen metabolism.
How do I get my DIM fix?
I’m a big believer in eating to heal your hormones and cruciferous vegetables are certainly part of the equation.
If you’ve ever tried the FLO Living 4 week food challenge then you’ll recall that I suggest broccoli for the follicular phase (before you ovulate, after your period), brussels sprouts when you’re ovulating, cauliflower and collard greens right before you have your period (luteal phase), and kale when you’re menstruating.
However, I don’t know anyone who loves Brussel sprouts enough to get their entire dose of DIM from their dinner plate. As well-intended as we all are, relying solely on cruciferous vegetables for DIM can be challenging, which is why supplements can help!
Ready to try a DIM supplement?
FLO Living has got you covered. It’s overwhelming to try to solve your hormone issues all by yourself (been there, done that), which is why I created the FLO Living supplement kits to provide the essential micronutrient support you need to heal and feel whole.
DIM is a primary ingredient in two of my new FLO Living Supplement Kits: RESTORE for PCOS and RELEASE for fibroids and heavy bleeding. Each supplement kit includes high-quality ingredients that are designed to work together in harmony to help you feel your best.
Learn how to try the Flo Living Supplement Kit that’s right for you here.