Diindolylmethane (DIM): Uses and Side Effects

Diindolylmethane (DIM): Uses and Side Effects

Today we take a look at diindolylmethane (DIM), a supplement which comes from cruciferous vegetables. Some say it may have the ability to prevent cancer.

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About Diindolylmethane (DIM)

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale contain a chemical substance called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). When these vegetables are digested by the human body, I3C is converted into diindolylmethane (DIM), a phytonutrient and antioxidant which is reported to have some cancer prevention capabilities. Due to this alleged ability, and perhaps also as a result of being cited by the “Dr. Oz Show”, DIM has become somewhat of a trendy dietary supplement.

Diindolylmethane (DIM) graphic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Diindolylmethane (DIM) graphic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

DIM is thought to interact with estrogen in some intricate manner that is not completely understood at this time. For this reason, it is not clear whether DIM is helpful or harmful for certain types of cancers caused by hormone overexposure.

Diindolylmethane (DIM) Uses

A number of potential uses for DIM have been suggested. As mentioned above, the most important of these uses is as a possible prevention/treatment for breast, prostate, uterine, cervical, and colorectal cancers.

Other proposed uses of DIM include treatments for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), an enlarged prostate, and for certain complications caused by human papilloma virus (HPV).

Some have claimed that DIM may improve athletic performance and sexual functioning for both males and females.

Diindolylmethane (DIM) Warnings

Given that research on DIM is still preliminary, not much is known about its effects on pregnancy, nursing mothers, and children. Therefore, caution is advised for these people when it comes to using DIM.

Since DIM interaction with estrogen is not well understood, people with certain hormone conditions should avoid usage of DIM. These conditions include breast cancer, uterine fibroids, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and/or endometriosis.

Diindolylmethane (DIM) Dosage, Side Effects, and Interactions

DIM is safe in the levels that are present in a normal diet. DIM as a dietary supplement is considered to be likely safe at reasonable doses for limited time periods.

Dosage: Research on DIM is still in trial stages, and the optimal dosage is still not yet known. However, here are a couple of recommendations:

  • New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center reports that most producers of supplemental DIM recommend a daily dosage of 500-1000mg.
  • The Dr. Oz website recommends 100mg of DIM for healthy people, and 200mg for those who are overweight and/or suffering from health conditions related to DIM uses.

Side Effects:

  • The Dr. Oz website claims that doses at or exceeding 300mg may cause headaches and upset stomach.
  • WebMD reports that a daily dose of 600mg may lower sodium levels.

Interactions: WebMD states that DIM may increase the speed at which the liver breaks down medications.  People who use medications altered by the liver should avoid using DIM. A list of such medications have been posted in the ‘Interactions’ section of the WebMD page on DIM.

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Diindolylmethane (DIM) Research

According to WebMD, there is inadequate scientific evidence for almost every suggested usage of DIM.

NYU Langone Medical Center has a competent overview of the research on DIM. Studies on the cancer preventing abilities of DIM are still introductory, and have shown mixed results so far. Several studies in test-tubes and on animals have shown evidence that DIM may help prevent some cancers, yet the unknown interactions with estrogen may also aggravate hormone related cancers.

Other preparatory studies have shown that DIM might help treat respiratory papillomatosis and cervical dysplasia brought on by HPV.

There is no evidence that DIM enhances sexual or athletic performance.

Bottom Line

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a compound created by the human body when digesting cruciferous vegetables. It is alleged to have a number of potential uses including the prevention of cancer, yet initial research evidence supporting these claims is currently varied and insufficient. Further and future analysis may provide solid evidence of the beneficial nature of DIM, but more studies need to be done. As a supplement, DIM is seemingly harmless at sensible doses on a short-term basis. Individuals with a hormonal condition/cancer or those taking medications modified by the liver should avoid using DIM.

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