Hormones can be a woman’s best friend… or they can be her worst enemy. When they are balanced, hormones work together to promote health and harmony in our bodies, driving a number of important biological functions and processes. But a hormonal imbalance can wreak havoc on physical wellbeing. Fortunately, there are tools available to help support healthy hormone balance. One of these is the phytonutrient diindolylmethane, or DIM.
One of the most common hormonal imbalances women experience is estrogen dominance and problems with estrogen metabolism, which can lead to ovarian cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, infertility, and fibrocystic breast disease. Especially concerning is estrogen’s link to breast cancer, uterine cancer, and even prostate cancer in men. As a matter of fact, estrogen is on the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ list of known carcinogens. But DIM, a metabolite of indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage (and in supplement form), helps maintain hormonal balance and promotes healthy estrogen metabolism.
DIM is unique among phytonutrients because it is able to shift estrogen metabolism to the pathway that leads to the production of 2-hydroxy, or “good” estrogen, and away from the production of 16-hydroxy, or “bad” estrogen, the estrogen linked to breast and other cancers. In fact, studies show that DIM can increase the production of the “good” estrogen by as much as 75 percent. This form of estrogen supports cardiovascular health, bone health, and skin health.
According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, DIM is chemoprotective for breast cancer, demonstrating anti-proliferative effects in animal and cancer cell models. It has also shown to induce apoptosis, or cell death. And the National Cancer Institute has begun clinical trials of DIM as a therapeutic protocol for numerous forms of cancer.
DIM can even be beneficial to men by blocking some of the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, which can enhance libido and sexual performance. And by promoting healthy estrogen metabolism in women, DIM can also help to reduce hot flashes related to menopause and PMS symptoms.
In addition to taking a DIM supplement, a healthy diet including lots of cruciferous vegetables (after all, these are the veggies that naturally contain DIM) and regular physical activity both contribute to healthy estrogen metabolism and balance.
Estrogen dominance is all too common and can lead to serious health problems, including breast cancer. The good news is that estrogen can be balanced, and often all it takes is a healthy diet and the help of a supplement like DIM. When it comes to promoting healthy estrogen metabolism, and in turn, healthy estrogen balance, DIM is a woman’s ally.
Vanderhaeghe, L and Pettle, A, MD. Sexy Hormones, Basic Health Publications, 2010
Lucille, Holly ND. “Estrogen Dominance.” http://www.needs.com/product/HWC06-HER-01/htc_DIM