As someone with PCOS, I know the struggles that other people with it go through. It can be devastating, uncomfortable and sometimes even embarrassing.
Because of this, I and many others try to find treatments that work for them. One of the things that people have used to treat themselves with is something called, DIM. It is a supplement so it would be filed under, “alternative or complementary medicine.”
In this post, we will be taking a look at DIM and I will be giving you my personal experience with it.
*Read the medical disclaimer at the end of the post*
Why alternative or complimentary medicine for PCOS?
Prescription medication is the first line of treatment for PCOS. The options are well researched, usually have a high rate of efficacy and medical professionals believe in them. Many people with PCOS will see improvements with the treatments.
Some of the prescription medication options are as follows:
- Spironolactone-An antiandrogen.
- Birth control
- Metformin- For insulin resistance.
- Fertility treatments
- Statins- For bad cholesterol levels.
Some people want to explore treatment options other than just prescription medicine for themselves though . This may be due to the following reasons:
- They simply don’t believe in or like Western medicine.
- They do not like the side effects of some of the prescription medication they are taking.
- They find that their prescription medication is working for them but not as much as they want. Thus they feel that they need to add something else in.
A person who falls in the first point would likely seek out an all non-Western treatment plan. This would be known as, “alternative medicine.”
A person who falls into either of the second and third points would likely seek out non-Western treatments in addition to their prescription medications. This would be known as, “complementary medicine.”
The non-Western medicine treatments that they commonly turn to are as follows:
- Vitamin supplements (i.e. vitamin D).
- Herbal supplements (i.e. turmeric).
- Antioxidant supplements (i.e. NAC).
- Diets (low-carb, keto, reduced calories etc.).
Good diets and consistent exercise routines have a lot of positive evidence backing them. The supplements on the other hand, do not have as much evidence behind them. This means that we do need to be careful if that is the route we are going and look into the research that is available-no matter how small.
DIM is an abbreviation for, diindolylmethane. This is a chemical that is produced by way of the digestion of cruciferous vegetables. These kinds of vegetables include broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
DIM is an example of a phytonutrient and is in the “indole” group. Phytonutrients are chemicals that come from plants and are said to possibly have benefits for our bodies. Some other popular ones include lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, curcumin and green tea extract.
The benefits that DIM may have include it being good for cancer prevention, hormonal health and the immune system. It is said to be good for both men and women.
While you can eat the cruciferous vegetables to get this phytonutrient- you will have to eat a lot of them to get the benefits. This is why many people will turn to DIM in a supplemental form instead. It can be found in capsules (usually with bioperine added), powder (such as the Bulk Supplements product) and liquid form. They come in various dosages.
It is important to note that before one starts supplementing with DIM that it can have some bad interactions with certain medications. These include diuretics, HRT and some medications that are changed by the liver (i.e. Spironolactone, Advil, Celexa and Valium).
There may be some side effects when supplementing with it. These include headaches, migraines, gassiness, nausea and rashes. One may need to ease into the dosages instead of taking the full recommended dose that a product says to take.
DIM for PCOS
DIM does a lot with estrogen so it is good to familiarize ourselves with what estrogen is. So here goes…
Estrogen is a group of hormones that include estrone, estradiol and estriol. This group is responsible for physical female characteristic development, female reproductive system development, the brain, metabolism, protecting our bones/tissues, cholesterol control, maintaining cognition and more.
The following is a little bit of information about each type of estrogen:
- Estrone- This is a weak estrogen that can be formed into estradiol. Once menopause is reached, it is the major estrogen that is left. If it is too high- ovarian cancer, adrenal gland cancer, cirrhosis and early puberty in girls may occur. If it is too low-an increased risk of osteoporosis and bad menopause symptoms may occur.
- Estradiol- This is the most powerful and main type of estrogen in females. Having levels that are too high can cause weight gain, acne, low sex drive and mood issues. Having levels that are too low can cause sleeping issues, breast pain, mood swings, hot flashes, headaches/migraines, frequent UTIs and osteoporosis.
- Estriol- This is the weakest type of estrogen and is found in lower levels than the other two types. It only becomes the major type of estrogen in the third trimester of pregnancy. If levels are too low during pregnancy, negative effects on the fetus may occur. These include miscarriages, fetal adrenal insufficiency and Down’s syndrome.
In addition to the major estrogen types above, there are also other minor estrogens and estrogen metabolites.
Some people have estrogen levels that are too high in comparison to their progesterone levels and this is known as, “estrogen dominance.” Not everyone likes that term though for various reasons. The following are common symptoms of this condition:
- Breast tenderness
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Mood issues
- Acne and/or oily skin
- Hair loss/thinning
- Appetite increase and cravings
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
- Worsening of one’s own set of PMS symptoms
- Fertility issues
Take note that these estrogen dominance symptoms are also what one may experience when their estrogen levels are too low.
There are certain things that can cause estrogen dominance and PCOS may be one of them. You can probably tell this by looking at the symptoms as they are similar.
What DIM may be able to do is balance out estrogen levels in those that deal with this problem. It is said to turn bad forms of it into good, less powerful forms. This in turn gives one a better balance of estrogen in their body. It also may have anti-androgen effects.
The alleged estrogen balancing effects of DIM has made it something that people with PCOS and others with just estrogen dominance, turn to. While supplementing with it hasn’t worked for everyone, the following are the benefits that some people have gotten:
- Weight loss- An imbalance of estrogen can cause weight gain and control issues. The weight might also be concentrated around the midsection which tends to be a common thing in people with PCOS. DIM has helped some lose weight and belly fat. It may do this by speeding up the metabolism and reducing the appetite.
- Lowers risk of breast cancer- Higher estrogen levels put people at risk for breast cancer. DIM balancing them out will then lower the risk.
- Reduces PMS/PMDD symptoms-Since people with too high estrogen levels can have severe PMS/PMDD because of it, DIM balancing things out can reduce the severity in some.
- Regulating periods- Some people with PCOS or just with irregular periods without PCOS, have found that DIM regulates them. This may mean that they come more frequently, stay for a normal number of days (seven or less) or come less frequently (if you are getting them twice a month).
- Reducing flow- Some people have heavier than normal periods. This can plague people with PCOS and without it. It has been reported that DIM helps with reducing the flow to normal levels.
- Hair loss/thinning- This is something that many people with PCOS deal with. The DIM has helped some with this symptom possibly due to it’s alleged estrogen balancing and antiandrogen effects.
- Acne and/or oily skin- Acne and/or oily skin can be a constant problem for people with PCOS and it may plague some without PCOS, too. Many people have reported that taking DIM has reduced these two symptoms if the estrogen levels are imbalanced.
- Brain fog- This is something that plagues people with PCOS or those that have estrogen dominance without PCOS. Estrogen levels need to be in balance for good thinking to occur and DIM may help with this.
- Fertility issues- PCOS is notorious for causing issues with fertility. If an estrogen dominance is part of the equation, DIM could possibly help.
For females to possibly get any of these alleged benefits, a dosage ranging from 100-300 mg is recommended. If you are trying to get this amount from your diet, keep in mind that you would have to eat about a pound of broccoli to get the recommended dosage.
Admittedly, it has been a long time since I took DIM but I do remember what it was like.
When deciding to start taking DIM, it was kind of just on a whim. I read that it may be good for PCOS and PMS so I just bought it in hopes that it might help me.
I don’t particularly remember the brand I chose but I do remember that they came in 100 mg capsules and that there wasn’t anything else added to them (except for fillers). My choice was to work up to 200 mg instead of doing the recommended max dosage of 300 mg.
I took the DIM supplement for three weeks before I had to stop. First of all, it was giving me these bad headaches. I thought they were going to go away as I got used to using the product but they still remained after two weeks. The third week of the headache was actually even more painful.
Second of all, my skin broke out into painful cysts. I really don’t know why I waited three weeks to stop taking it!
Throughout the three weeks, I did not notice any good effects from DIM- just the headaches and skin cysts. Maybe I don’t have estrogen dominance along with my PCOS diagnosis? Maybe it just doesn’t work for some? Whatever the reason-I will not be taking it again.
So, is it worth trying?
I guess that is kind of a hard question to answer. DIM didn’t work for me just like it hasn’t for some others. On the other hand, there are a lot of people that DIM has worked for beautifully.
If this non-Western medicine treatment sounds, start doing some reading up on it and talk to your doctor about it. This is especially important if you are taking any other type of medication.
DIM could possibly be helpful
The unfortunate thing about supplements is that they are lacking good, hard evidence. DIM is no different. It does, however, show some promising evidence behind it and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence as well.
If you have PCOS and are looking for something else to try for your symptoms, this could be something to look into. Remember to talk to your doctor first.
Have you tried DIM before? How did it go?
Thanks for reading!
Medical disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or a scientist and I am not telling you to take what I take. If you are interested in trying any kind of supplement you should ask your doctor before doing so. Your health is in your own hands.
Affiliate disclaimer: I am part of an affiliate program. This means that I may get a commission off of anything you click on and buy when visiting my site.
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