A few months back – and around 2 years since my last accutane pill – I was desperately searching for a natural option to treat my hormonal acne when I came across DIM.
I’d already gone through most conventional treatments antibiotics, topical creams like Epiduo and Differin, spironolactone, accutane and contraceptive pills. Most worked short-term, but my acne has always come back, at least to some extent.
Women on Reddit, blogs and even in magazines like Women’s Health were touting DIM as the ultimate cure for their stubborn hormonal acne – and I wanted a piece of that magic, too!
Your quick guide to DIM for acne
It’s so important to know exactly what you’re putting in your body, as well as the potential benefits and risks, before you invest your money into supplements.
I’ll discuss my own DIM experience and results further down the page, but first, let’s run through what you need to know.
What is DIM?
According to HealthLine, diindolylmethane (DIM) is ‘a compound created when you digest cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts’.
Yep, it’s basically a very concentrated form of cruciferous vegetables – but you’d have to eat a ton of broccoli or sprouts every single day to get the same effect.
How does DIM work for acne?
Studies suggest that DIM has an effect on estrogen levels in the body, which is why it can – in certain cases – work to reduce hormonal acne.
Specifically, DIM converts the more potent, less beneficial form of estrogen (estradiol) into the weaker, more beneficial form (estriol). It’s the ‘bad’ (less beneficial) estrogen that stimulates sebum production and can lead to acne.
It also blocks aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
What are the benefits of DIM?
According to WebMD, research shows that DIM may help to:
Of course, DIM supplements are often used to treat hormonal acne – and the internet is awash with positive anecdotes! The only problem? No science-backed research currently supports this.
Is DIM safe?
There isn’t enough reliable information, research or long-term studies to know the long-term safety and side-effects of DIM. However, the limited research that is available doesn’t show DIM supplements to be toxic or cause any serious side effects.
Some sources claim that too much DIM may even be harmful to some women, so don’t take too large of a dose. This is because DIM affects estrogen, which plays a huge number of roles in the female body and regulates the menstrual cycle.
I’d recommend talking to your doctor or healthcare provider and – if you can – getting a hormone test to see whether DIM is a good option for you. DIM could also interact with other medications or supplements, so it’s important that your doctor is aware that you’re taking it.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid DIM. When you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your hormone levels change. DIM could alter these levels, which could be unhealthy (and even dangerous) for both you and your growing baby.
What are the side effects of DIM?
According to HealthLine, the most common DIM side effects are ‘darkening of the urine, an increase in bowel movements, headaches and gas’.
They also claim that less common side effects include nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, diarrhoea and skin rashes.
Can DIM affect the oral contraceptive pill?
According to Dr Dray in her video ‘DIM SUPPLEMENT FOR ACNE’, “From the clinical studies we do have, we have learnt that DIM interacts with the enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of medication, which means it could end up rendering medications ineffective.
“The medication that comes to mind that I would worry the most about would be the oral contraceptive pill. DIM could, in theory, render oral contraceptive pills ineffective.”
Dr Dray is a board-certified dermatologist, so I’d take her warning seriously. If you’re taking the contraceptive pill and wish to try DIM, please consult your doctor first. I’d recommend giving Dr Dray’s entire video a watch – it’s really informative.
Does DIM cause a purge?
I can’t find much information – even anecdotal – on whether DIM can cause a purge. I can say, though, that for me, it didn’t. I saw an almost instant improvement! But skin purging is common with acne treatments like accutane and spironolactone, so I wouldn’t write it off as a possibility with DIM.
Skin purging is the process of shedding dead cells, oil and bacteria that are underneath the surface of your skin. Before your skin starts to clear, all this oil and bacteria have to come out; causing an increase in acne.
My advice? If your skin becomes worse when you first start taking DIM, be patient. Give it a few weeks to really see the impact it could have on your skin. If, after a month or two, you still aren’t seeing any improvement, it might not be for you.
How long does it take for DIM to work on acne?
As with most acne treatments, everyone’s skin (and body) will react differently to DIM.
Most of the sources I’ve seen say you may start to see improvement anywhere from 3 days to 30 days after starting DIM, but it all depends on your unique situation.
For some women, it may take longer to see optimal results, so don’t give up too soon (unless you’ve been told by your doctor to stop taking it, or if you’re experiencing negative side effects).
What DIM dose should I take?
HealthLine claim that in the (limited) human research that has been carried out, the DIM does is typically 108–900 mg per day, but these studies were not related to acne.
Thankfully, a study of 24 healthy people concluded that doses of up to 200 mg DIM were well tolerated and didn’t cause negative side effects. However, one person in the study did experience nausea, headache and vomiting after taking a 300 mg dose.
I’m no medical professional, but I’d recommend sticking to under 200mg to start with, to give your body time to adapt. If you need to up your dose, ease in gradually. It’d be wise to consult your doctor about your dose, too.
My DIM for acne experience
Now we’ve covered what you need to know about DIM, here is my DIM experience, side effects and results.
The DIM supplement I chose
I use Estroblock, a well-known DIM supplement that ‘has been clinically demonstrated to clear out toxic synthetic estrogens and hormones that enter our bodies from unnatural sources.’
Estroblock claims that ‘The unique, all natural, combination of indole-3-carbinol and noncrystalline DIM is more than 5 times as effective as competitors. A lot of people have attempted to copy this miracle formula over the years but our unique delivery system is unmatched and yields real clinical results, with no toxic side effects from unnatural ingredients.’
The reason I chose Estroblock over cheaper DIM alternatives from Amazon is that it seems better known and has plenty of positive reviews. I was unsure of how much I could trust the random (and cheap) products on Amazon, though they could be just as good – I’m just not sure!
My DIM dose
I started out by taking 1 Estroblock tablet a day, which contains 184mg DIM.
After a couple of weeks, I increased to their recommendation of 2 tables a day, which contains 368mg DIM.
I seem to tolerate this well, so I may try their triple strength version in the future if I feel my skin needs it.
My DIM side effects
Okay, so I only had one side effect – and it’s a weird one. DIM turns my wee a crazy colour; almost orange. I notice it most a couple of hours after taking it.
It might sound alarming, but it’s actually expected. DIM metabolites have an amber colour that transfers to your wee; which can also happen to individuals who eat large amounts of cruciferous vegetables.
So yeah, orange wee. Woo! Other than that, I haven’t experienced any negative side effects.
My DIM for acne results
When I first started taking DIM, my skin was in the worst place it’d been since before I took accutane 3 years or so back. I’m not sure what triggered it, but I had acne all over my cheeks and jawline. The acne I experience is very hormonal and worsens around ovulation and before my period.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I experienced improvement within days of taking DIM. Yes, I was shocked – my acne is super stubborn. I noticed my skin was less oily and my breakouts were clearing up quite significantly. Within 3 weeks, I only had a couple of spots, which is an amazing result for me who, beforehand, had at least 6 or 7 active spots at any one time. I’ve been wearing far less makeup, which is wild for me!
I know this will sound like I’m overinflating DIM/Estroblock results, but I’m not. I know how shit acne can make you feel (I’ve had it, on and off, for over 10 years – read my acne story) and I wouldn’t dream of exaggerating the results of a treatment.
The only negative? About a month and a half into DIM, around the time of ovulation, I experienced quite a bad acne breakout. Regardless, I still think that DIM is reducing the severity of my acne – it just hasn’t been a cure-all for my monthly ovulation breakout.
I’m considering increasing my dose and will update this page to let you know how I get on.
DIM before and after
DIM for acne: Would I recommend it?
After years of conventional acne treatments from my GP and dermatologists, I still can’t believe that a natural supplement has somehow had the biggest impact on my acne. I’m not sure if it’ll last, but I’ll definitely keep this page updated.
But please remember that supplements work differently for everyone. I’ve read super mixed reviews for DIM – some say it’s made their acne worse, while some say it’s cleared up their acne entirely. Please, please, please be aware of that and do your own research before investing any money!
If you do try DIM, leave a comment or send me an Instagram message to let me know how it’s going – I’d love to know!