Skip to content


Acne vulgaris, commonly known as acne, is a very common skin condition that affects nearly 80% of adolescents and young adults aged 11–30 years. While it often resolves by the third decade of life, some individuals may continue to struggle with acne throughout their lives. Acne arises from a combination of many factors including follicular hyperproliferation, excessive sebum production, colonization by bacteria like C. acnes, and inflammation. However, another significant contributor to acne is hormonal imbalances.

Understanding Acne Pathogenesis

Acne primarily originates from the hair follicles, with excessive sebum production and abnormal follicular keratinization leading to the formation of comedones (clogged pores). Bacteria like C. acnes further exacerbate the condition by causing inflammation and triggering immune responses. Also, hormones play a crucial role in regulating sebum production, with androgens (male hormones) such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) being particularly influential.

Role of Hormones in Acne

Androgens, including testosterone and DHT, stimulate sebum production, which is why acne often worsens during puberty when androgen levels surge. Additionally, other hormones like progesterone, estrogen, insulin, corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), and growth hormone also influence sebaceous gland activity and inflammation, contributing to acne development.

While not all cases of acne require hormonal evaluation, it is essential in certain situations such as:

  • Late-onset acne: Acne that pops up later in life, typically after the age of 25. It's when adults, who may have had clear skin for years, suddenly start experiencing pimples, blackheads, or other skin blemishes. This can be frustrating and surprising because acne is often associated with teenagers, but it's not uncommon for it to occur in adulthood as well.
  • Treatment-resistant acne: Usual methods or medications used to treat acne aren't working as well as expected. It can be frustrating because you may have tried various treatments, such as over-the-counter creams or prescription medications, but they're not seeing the results they hoped for. This type of acne might require different approaches or stronger medications to effectively manage it.
  • Signs of hyperandrogenism (excessive male hormone levels) like hirsutism or irregular menstruation
      • Hyperandrogenism: Having higher-than-normal levels of male hormones in the body. These hormones, like testosterone, are typically found in higher amounts in males but are also present in females, just in smaller quantities.
      • Hirsutism: A condition where women develop excessive hair growth in areas where men typically have hair, such as the face, chest, and back. It's like having more hair than what's considered normal for women.
      • Irregular menstruation: Instead of occurring every 28 days or so, periods might come more frequently, less frequently, or they might be unpredictable in terms of timing and flow.
    • So, when someone shows signs of hyperandrogenism like hirsutism or irregular menstruation, it could indicate that their body is producing too many male hormones, which can lead to various symptoms affecting hair growth and the menstrual cycle.
    • Hyperandrogenism can arise from various sources, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ovarian or adrenal tumors, and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Therefore, thorough hormonal assessment, including tests for testosterone, DHEA, and other hormones, is crucial for accurate diagnosis and management.

Utilizing the Potential of Diindolylmethane (DIM) to Address Hormonal Acne

One natural compound gaining a lot of traction for its potential in managing hormonal acne is Diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM is a metabolite of indole-3-carbinol, which is abundant in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. So how does it work? In office, I tell my clients imagine DIM as a tiny, powerful Pac-Man navigating through your body, especially excess hormone imbalances particularly involving estrogen and androgens that can lead to acne. DIM's mission is to regulate estrogen metabolism and create harmony in your hormonal landscape. It's like transforming a raging river into a gentle stream, calming the hormonal turbulence that often triggers acne. 

Download Pac-Man Transparent Background HQ PNG Image | FreePNGImg

  • Estrogen Metabolism: DIM helps to regulate estrogen metabolism by promoting the conversion of estrogen into its less potent forms. It supports the breakdown of estradiol, a potent form of estrogen, into weaker metabolites like estriol and estrone. This balance in estrogen metabolism is beneficial for individuals with hormonal imbalances, as it can help alleviate symptoms related to estrogen dominance (Irregular Menstrual Cycles, PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), Breast Tenderness, Weight Gain, Fibrocystic Breast Changes, Headaches or Migraines, Mood Swings and Anxiety, Fatigue, Insomnia, Decreased Libido).
  • Androgen Hormones: DIM also influences androgen hormones, particularly by inhibiting the activity of androgen receptors. By blocking the effects of excess androgens like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), DIM helps to reduce the impact of these hormones on the skin. This can be beneficial for individuals dealing with conditions like hormonal acne, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), and other symptoms associated with hyperandrogenism.

DIM acts as a shield, blocking the harmful effects of excess androgens (male hormones) on your skin. This protection can have positive effects on various aspects of health, including skin health and hormonal regulation.

Food Sources of DIM

Incorporating DIM-rich foods into your diet may help support hormonal balance and improve acne symptoms. Here are some examples of cruciferous vegetables that are excellent sources of DIM:

1. Broccoli
2. Brussels sprouts
3. Cabbage
4. Cauliflower
5. Kale

Story pin image

Supplementing DIM

If you're considering taking DIM supplements, it's crucial to proceed with caution. While supplements can be beneficial, they should be approached with guidance, especially when it comes to hormones and acne management. Not all supplements are created equal. I often see people taking "alternatives" from my recommendations and their skin completely taking a turn for the worst.

DIM supplements come in various forms and dosages, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. Plus, factors like existing health conditions, medications, and individual hormone levels can influence how your body responds to supplementation.

That's why it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any some supplements, including DIM. We can provide personalized guidance based on your unique health profile, ensuring that you're taking the right dosage and formulation for your needs. If you're interested in exploring DIM supplements as part of your acne management plan, be sure to book a call with me or in person consult discuss the best approach for you. 

What Other Supplements Can Work In Conjunction?

Taking an integrative dermatology approach to acne involves using a variety of interventions tailored to address each individual's specific root causes, such as:

  • L-Glutamine: Promotes healing of the gut lining, reduces intestinal permeability, and decreases inflammation in the gut, which can all contribute to acne.
    • Recommended Dosage: Take 5 grams three times per day on an empty stomach for eight weeks.
  • Ashwagandha: An adaptogenic herb that helps the body cope with stress by reducing cortisol levels and supporting a healthy HPA axis, which can indirectly improve acne.
    • Recommended Dosage: Prescribed in doses of 225 to 600 mg per day and for up to 12 weeks.
  • Vitamin D: It reduces inflammation and modulates glucose metabolism, and deficiency is associated with acne.
    • Recommended Dosage: For a loading dose, 50,000 IU once per week for 2 to 3 months or three times per week for one month. A maintenance dose of 800 to 2,000 IU per day is required to prevent a recurrence of deficiency.
  • Omega Fatty Acids: They are essential for cellular health, cardiovascular health, and reducing inflammation, which can improve acne symptoms.
    • Recommended Dosage: A standard recommendation is 2 grams per day for at least ten weeks.
  • Micronutrients like zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and pantothenic acid, are also great for skin health and may address underlying deficiencies contributing to acne.

All in all, hormonal imbalances play a significant role in the development of acne, and addressing these imbalances can be crucial for effective management. While hormonal therapies are available for severe or treatment-resistant cases, natural compounds like Diindolylmethane (DIM) offer a promising alternative for some individuals seeking a more holistic approach to acne treatment. By incorporating DIM-rich foods like cruciferous vegetables into your diet, you can support hormonal balance and potentially improve acne symptoms naturally. Shop supplements here!



Elsaie M. L. (2016). Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 9, 241–248.
Kim YG, Lee JH, Park S, Lee J. The Anticancer Agent 3,3'-Diindolylmethane Inhibits Multispecies Biofilm Formation by Acne-Causing Bacteria and Candida albicans. Microbiol Spectr. 2022 Feb 23;10(1):e0205621. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.02056-21. Epub 2022 Feb 2. PMID: 35107361; PMCID: PMC8809333.

Le, H. T., Schaldach, C. M., Firestone, G. L., & Bjeldanes, L. F. (2003, June). Plant-derived 3,3′-Diindolylmethane Is a Strong Androgen Antagonist in Human Prostate Cancer Cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 278(23), 21136–21145.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published..

Quick Shop