The other day, I was reading an article by Mary on her natural anti-blemish skincare routine. Of course, at this point, I thought I knew what she was up to (:D) but she mentioned something I hadn’t known before: that she takes Diindoylylmethane and evening primrose oil supplements to balance her hormones. I quickly emailed her because at first, I thought evening primrose oil might be another topical beauty oil. Nope! It was a supplement, as was Diindoylylmethane (DIM). Her DIM supplement was by a brand called Estroblock, and she said it takes about 30 days or so to really kick in, but significantly helped her hormonal breakouts.
I immediately set out to do more online research. DIM is a phytonutrient found in cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. It reduces the levels of “bad” estrogen (16-hydroxyestrogen) while promoting “good” estrogen (2-hydroxyestrogen). It also claims to maintain healthy testosterone : estrogen balance, to boost energy and libido, reduce body fat, improve mood, and (drum roll) clear hormonal acne.
As I was reading this, I felt a tad overwhelmed (frankly dizzy) by all the claims and theories. Wasn’t estrogen supposed to make our skin beautiful and feminine? While high school health class has left me with the impression that increase in testosterone leads to acne in your puberty, it certainly bears noting that in adult life, grown men don’t suffer from chin acne that hideously returns whenever you forget about it. I strongly suspect my boyfriend and other men in my life not to wash their face with facial cleanser if they can help it, let alone bother with facial scrub, etc. They also drink and smoke way more than I do (I don’t smoke at all), and barely have any skincare items. But for all that, they don’t get repeat pimples or what might qualify as acne. How annoying.
But here’s the catch about estrogen / androgens (aka male hormones, aka testosterone). Excess estrogen can stimulate overproduction of androgens as your body attempts to right itself. And so many symptoms of too much estrogen overlap with symptoms of too much androgen. These include: chin and jawline acne; polycystic ovarian syndrome; irregular periods; hair loss; male pattern hair growth. In addition, symptoms of estrogen dominance include thyroid dysfunction, excess weight, low libido, digestive trouble, trouble sleeping, hypoglycemia, PMS, and trouble sleeping. (What a list that is!)
As I went down the list, I noted I don’t show most of the symptoms listed. I have thick, healthy hair that grows really quickly, super digestion, periods that I can’t complain about, and pretty high energy. My metabolism feels like it’s just the right speed and my body typically feels light, energetic, healthy. But despite many positive changes, I still struggle with hormonal acne that comes back every once in a while.
More importantly, I suspect that my moodiness is related to estrogen dominance. On the outside, I present a much more calm and strong image. (Recently, someone described me by making firm, perpendicular angles with her hands–“you’re like this“–meaning Iron Lady). Most people also tell me that I’m taller than they imagined, and I’m overall very energetic and vigorous-seeming. But on the inside, my mood fluctuates wildly, and I think and feel rapidly and acutely almost every minute like a kite flying through the air. “Exuberance” and “sensibility” might be flattering way of putting it: “super emotional” and “cray-cray” might be another, less flattering way. You could say that it’s just my personality, but I also just know that it’s certainly connected to my hormones.
If balancing my female hormones can get rid of the crazies and make me feel calm and strong on the inside as I do on the outside, I was willing to give it a shot. Honestly, I haven’t taken any form of vitamins or supplements in years, and the only time I’ve taken supplements to balance my hormones was around 2009, when I first moved to the city and was super lonely: I took St. John’s wort to see if it would improve my mood, which serves to remind me that I’ve always sort of had this problem. 6 years later, can I now “solve” that problem with DIM?
At Whole Foods I found a DIM supplement in “women’s balance” section. I didn’t see evening prim rose oil supplement that didn’t have fish oil in it, so I also picked up Sibu Revitalize and Renew for Skin, Hair & Nails, a liquid supplement made from sea buckthorn, a berry bush that sustains itself in the arid highlands of Tibet. It boasts Omega 3, 6, 9 and Omega 7. Omega fatty acids, in addition to the well-known benefits to the cardiovascular and nervous systems, also promote healthy skin and hair, and help regulate hormones in the body. I came home and immediate took a serving each of DIM and sea buckthorn (delicious!). I’m not sure what exactly I can expect, but I feel better about the fact that I’m at least cognizant of my mind and body, and am trying to help myself. These two supplements came to $37.48 for a month’s supply, and that’s a price I’d definitely be willing to pay, if it came with significantly calmer mood and skin.
Check back in a month for my report on hormonal balance supplements! And let me know if you swear by anything. 🙂
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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling