As I mentioned in an earlier post, I get the most questions about how to use progesterone for perimenopause problems. But a close second is… questions about DIM.
What is DIM?
DIM, or diindolylmethane, is the active ingredient in cruciferous vegetables; it promotes proper hormone metabolism and helps improve estrogen/progesterone balance. DIM has started to gain popularity 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 works in two ways. First, it blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. So if you have a tendency to aromatize your testosterone to estrogen (like me), DIM can be very helpful (a DUTCH test will show this).
Second, it pushes “bad” estrogen metabolites into the “good” estrogen metabolic pathway in Phase 1 of estrogen metabolism. This lowers the chances of the “bad” metabolites doing damage to DNA or increasing cancer risk.
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Who Benefits From DIM?
Women who have signs of estrogen dominance (ED) are most likely to benefit from DIM. Estrogen dominance means that you have too much estrogen relative to the amount of progesterone. This situation is VERY common in perimenopause and happens because you fail to ovulate every month (even though you may still be having regular periods). If you don’t ovulate, you make almost no progesterone. This sets the stage for ED and it shows up as heavy periods, weight gain, breast tenderness, insomnia, and fatigue (among other things).
Who Should Not Use DIM
DIM can be very helpful for solving ED problems, but it’s NOT a good thing if:
- Your estrogen levels are low. It is possible to have ED and have low estrogen levels. If you begin taking DIM, it is likely to lower those levels, even more, aggravating symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes.
- You’re taking megadoses (50-200 mg is plenty). More is not better in this situation.
- Your Phase 2 metabolism of estrogen is not supported. In this situation, Phase 1 metabolites back up and you feel awful.
- You’re not pooping on the regular (Phase 3)… estrogen is eliminated in bowel movements and constipation or other gut health issues keep it in the body.
Side Effects of DIM
DIM is generally well-tolerated with a few mild symptoms for a few days. Side effects of DIM include:
- Brain fog
- Dark urine (pink to orange to brownish)
The consensus is that darkened urine is harmless and will return to normal once you stop taking your DIM supplement. Some say it’s a good sign that DIM is working on your liver to neutralize estrogen metabolites. Whatever the cause, don’t be alarmed.
The rest of the side effects of DIM are short-lived and resemble the effects of general detox symptoms — because that’s precisely what’s happening. DIM pulls excess estrogens out of your cells and sends them out into the bloodstream for elimination. While it’s all circulating, you’ll feel like crud.
That’s the case with any detox. When you pull things like chemicals, heavy metals, and mold toxins out of hiding, they have an effect on the cells they come into contact with while they’re on their way out. That’s why it’s crucial to support your body’s detox and elimination systems while you’re taking DIM or doing other detoxes.
If there’s any question about whether or not DIM is right for you, I highly recommend doing the DUTCH test. It lays out your Phase 1 and 2 metabolic pathways, allowing you and your provider to target any areas that need extra support. You can get more information on that at www.drannagarrett.com/test-and-talk.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Dr. Anna is the author of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony. Order your copy at www.perimenopausebook.com.
Dr. Anna is available for 1-1 consultations. Find out more at www.drannagarrett.com/lets-