The natural compound and supplement diindolylmethane (DIM) has been known as a ‘miracle cure’ for adult women that suffer from chronic acne.
But is DIM effective at clearing all cases of acne in adult women? And is it really as much of a miracle cure as what people think?
Let’s begin by exploring what DIM actually is.
What is DIM?
DIM is a natural compound formed in the human body through the consumption and digestion of glucosinolates, which are a natural component found in some plants. Glucosinolates are present in cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
How DIM works at clearing acne in adult women
There are multiple ways that DIM can clear acne in adult women, each of these ways being connected to the hormonal system. So the first clue as to whether or not DIM will work for an adult woman, is questioning if her acne is hormonal or not.
DIM is quite unique in how it works in two separate hormonal pathways in the body. This makes it the first known natural compound that has the ability to work on two separate hormonal pathways.
Let’s take a look at these two ways that DIM works with within the hormonal system.
DIM inhibits the biological effects of DHT on the body
Elevated levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is arguably the most common cause of chronic acne in adult women. And it is often thought that DIM works so well because it lowers the levels of DHT in the body. However this is incorrect.
DIM works with DHT in a way that it prevents the body from responding to the DHT. This results in the body acting as if there are in fact lower levels of DHT, even though there are not. DIM does this by preventing DHT from binding to androgen receptors.
Androgen receptors allow the body to respond appropriately to the hormones that bind the them. So this means that when DHT is kept from binding to androgen receptors, the body does not respond in the same way to the DHT as it normally would.
So whilst DIM does not lower the levels of DHT, it does prevent the body from responding to it. This results in the body acting as if there are lower levels of DHT. And as elevated levels of DHT are one of the leading causes of chronic acne in adult women, this response will help to clear the skin for a woman whose acne is caused by elevated levels of DHT.
DIM blocks the conversion of testosterone into estradiol
DIM is a natural aromatase inhibitor, which means that it reduces the conversion of testosterone into estradiol in the body. This results in lower levels of estradiol, which will help acne in adult women whose acne is caused by estrogen dominance with normal levels of progesterone.
DIM promotes healthy estrogen metabolism
What DIM is also really good at is helping to clear acne in adult women by promoting healthy estrogen metabolism.
In a woman’s body, estrogen is broken down along two major pathways, one generating 2-hydroxyestrone (2OHE1) and the other 16-hydroxyestrone (16αOHE1). Both of these are estrogen metabolites.
When it comes to estrogen health, the ratio of 2OHE1 to 16αOHE1 is more important than the amounts of each individual estrogen metabolite themselves. As when the ratio is in an imbalance, health problems can occur such as acne.
DIM supports the healthy metabolism of these estrogen pathways, which assists in the development of a healthy estrogen metabolism ratio. This will help to clear acne in women if the acne is due to an imbalance in the estrogen metabolism ratio.
Can I just eat a lot of broccoli to get enough DIM?
It is not recommended to consume cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale in high quantities on a regular basis in order to intake high levels of DIM.
Cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called thioglycosides, which bind to iodine in the body. When we become deficient in iodine, we can develop an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which can cause a range of health problems.
DIM supplements do not contain thioglycosides so are safe to consume daily. And remember, cruciferous vegetables (especially dark leafy greens) are one of the healthiest foods that we can eat, so keep up with eating them in moderation!
When DIM won’t work
Now that we’ve explored how and when DIM will work to clear chronic acne in adult women, let’s look at why it won’t always work.
There are multiple reasons why DIM won’t necessarily work at clearing the skin of an adult woman with acne, as there are some root causes of acne that DIM simply cannot help.
Here are some of those root causes:
- Low progesterone
- Low progesterone estrogen dominance
- Elevated insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)
- External factors such as the use of the wrong skin care
- Chronic inflammation
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Whilst DIM is an excellent natural treatment option in many cases for adult women with chronic acne, it is not always a miracle cure.
If the acne is not specifically caused by elevated DHT, or estrogen dominance (with normal levels of progesterone), then it will be unlikely to work at clearing the skin.
It is also important to remember that in many cases the acne may be the result of multiple root causes. In these cases, it is important to approach the treatment plan with consideration to all root causes. As if just one root cause is treated, the acne may not be able to completely clear.
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