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Indole-3-Carbinol is produced from a family of highly nutritious vegetables. People call them the Cruciferous vegetables because they belong to the family Cruciferae. Some examples include; broccoli, kale, cauliflower, tatsoi, cabbage, collard greens and several others. They are rich in Vitamin C, fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals.
Almost all cruciferous vegetables contain a kind of glucosinolate known as glucobrassicin. Glucobrassicin is broken down in the human body by myrosinase, an enzyme. This produces the unique phytochemical known as indole-3-carbinol (I3C).
Indole-3-Carbinol is currently being studied for various reasons. This is because it has shown antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects. I3C has also helped prevent and ease atherosclerosis. From surveys, persons who eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables have lower cancer cases. Equally, I3C has shown ability to regress the development of HPV linked complications. Some of these include cervical dysplasia, vulvar intraepithelial dysplasia, laryngeal papillomatosis etc.
I3C can be gotten from food i.e. the above listed vegetables. Even so, the phytochemical is not available in medicinal amounts within food items. The amount of I3C derivable from food ranges from 20 – 120 mg daily. Dietary supplements are available today to meet the recommended therapeutic dosage. This ranges from 200 – 400 mg per day. Indole-3-Carbinol is also sold as 3,3’-diindolylmethane (DIM). Research is still ongoing on the interactions of I3C with other medications. It is also yet to be confirmed if it is safe for use by pregnant women. Thus, it is best to use this supplement under medical supervision.
What is Indole 3 Carbinol Good for?
Research has shown that I3C use can prevent and stop the growth of certain cancers. Some of these are breast, liver, lung, throat, pancreatic, cervix and stomach cancers.
In a clinical trial carried out in Canada, I3C supplements were tested on 96 women. Each woman took a special capsule or a placebo twice daily. This capsule contained herbs, 200mg of I3C and certain plant fibers known as lignans. This trial ran for 28 days. At the end of this period, blood and urine tests were carried out to detect cancer. The results showed the women that took I3C had much lower breast cancer risks. They also had lower risks of developing other estrogen-related cancers.
A separate study was conducted on this at the Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. Here, Indole-3-Carbinol was tested for its preventive and curative effects on prostate cancer. The cancer in this study was BPA-related and mice were used. When I3C was directly injected onto the mice’s tumors, their growth was inhibited. Also, I3C helps control cell cycles and cell multiplication. It also aids signal transduction within the body.
Further research shows that I3C lowers oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is a “free radical – antioxidant” imbalance. Antioxidants are molecules within the body which keep the free radicals stable. Free radicals are molecules which carry oxygen and an uneven number of elections. Free radicals react very easily with the other molecules within the body. Due to this, they are able to cause large chain reactions known as oxidation. Free radicals help fight off pathogens when in normal amounts. But when there is an imbalance, the free radicals start to harm the body. They damage proteins, fats and even DNA within the body. This situation is known as oxidative stress. Some of its causes are smoking, pollution, high sugar diet and so on. It can cause common diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes among others. Indole-3-Carbinol is an antioxidant. When taken, it helps to maintain this crucial body balance by mopping up the excess free radicals.
I3C may also help guard against the adverse effects of radiation. Furthermore, I3C helps control the body’s estrogen levels. It guards against hormonal imbalance and lupus. I3C also prevents the development of atherosclerosis. Furthermore, Indole-3-Carbinol shows ability to cause regression of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN).
Fibromyalgia refers to a disorder of the body’s musculoskeletal system. It is caused by surgery, infection, psychological stress or physical trauma. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread body pain, fatigue, sleep and memory issues. Some individuals have also reported numbness, bladder/bowel issues and photosensitivity. Fibromyalgia affects 2 – 8 % of Americans and women are twice affected relative to men. This cause of this disorder is unknown. It has links to environmental and genetic factors.
Till today, fibromyalgia has no universally accepted cure. Proper sleep, healthy diets and frequent exercise helps as well as Indole-3-Carbinol supplementation. Patients report alleviation of their pain and sleeping problems after I3C supplementation.
How Indole 3 Carbinol Supplements work?
I3C supplements, when taken, work by stimulating the body’s detoxifying enzymes. These enzymes can inhibit or totally block the growth of cancerous cells.
Also, a certain repair protein called BRCA exists within the body. This protein prevents the transfer of damaged DNA to the next generation. Problems with BRCA increase the risk of a cancer occurrence. Within cancer cells, BRCA is often in low quantity. It is believed that high quantities of BRCA will inhibit further cancer growth. I3C is effective in boosting this important protein and thus reduces the risk of cancer.
Indole 3 Carbinol Estrogen
There are certain toxins e.g. bisphenol-A (BPA) which are present in a lot of plastics. These chemicals, when they get into the body, work similarly like estrogen. This results in a spike in the body’s estrogen levels causing a hormonal imbalance. The hormonal imbalance increases the risk of hormone-related cancers. Some of these are breast and prostate cancers in women and men respectively.
Hormonal imbalances might cause adverse menopausal symptoms in women. They might also lead to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and thyroid disorders in women. Indole-3-Carbinol helps to regulate the amount of sex hormones in the body. It does this by impeding estrogen receptors within the body. The most targeted areas are the breast and prostate. It also eliminates the “bad” estrogen and other toxins.
Another serious condition linked with estrogen is the systemic lupus erythematosus. It is called lupus for short. Approximately 5 million persons live with lupus across the world today. Lupus is a collection of auto-immune diseases. It is characterized by a turning of the body’s immune system on its own healthy tissues. Lupus might affect different body systems such as the kidneys, heart, joints and skin. The common symptoms of this condition include chest pain, hair loss, skin rash and mouth ulcer. Other symptoms are photosensitivity, fever and fatigue. High levels of estrogen, sunlight, smoking etc. have been linked with this disease. Lupus has no known cure and the condition raises the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In an experiment with lupus infested rats, I3C was fed to a group while another group was fed the normal mouse diet. The mice fed with I3C enjoyed healthier and longer lives than the other group. Thus, taking Indole-3-carbinol supplements may help relieve its symptoms and improve life quality.
I3C has also shown its ability to condition the action of estrogen in women. This is really important as it helps prevent the development of estrogen-sensitive cancers.
Indole 3 Carbinol HPV
An HPV infection increases the possibility of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer globally and more than 90% of cases have roots in HPV. Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) are also HPV-related conditions. Indole-3-carbinol has shown ability to prevent or stop the development of these conditions. It can also improve the symptoms of these conditions.
In a study, some HPV-reactive mice were given a chronic amount of 17β-estradiol. This was done to cause the development of cervical cancer in them. Physiological doses of I3C were then administered on the rats for 60 days. This was done to check I3C’s effect on the development of cervical-vaginal cancer in these mice. After this period, only 2 of the 24 rats fed with I3C developed cervical-vaginal cancer. For the other group of rats which ate a control diet, 19 out of 25 of them developed cervical-vaginal cancer. All other mice involved in both trials developed either dysplasia or hyperplasia. Also, I3C helped to reduce skin cancer in the mice. It is evident that I3C stops the growth of vaginal-cervical cancer in HPV patients. It is also effective against the progression of skin cancer.
A clinical trial was also carried out to test the effect of I3C on HPV-related CIN. The participants of this study were thirty women with biopsy proven CIN II-III. These women were randomly given placebo, 200 and 400 mg/day of I3C administered orally for 3 months. The women who received placebo didn’t experience any changes. 4 out of 8 women who took the 200 mg daily dose had total regression of their CIN. Also 4 out of 9 women who took the 400 mg daily dose had their CIN completely regressed. This shows that indole-3-carbinol is effective against HPV-related cervical cancer and CIN.
Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) is a HPV-related precancerous condition. If left untreated, VIN can progress to vulvar cancer. A randomized clinical trial involving 12 women with VIN was carried out. Each woman was supplemented with 200 or 400 mg / day of I3C for 24 weeks. After this period, the symptoms of VIN were generally improved. This includes the appearance and sizes of the lesions. Further research on this is ongoing.
Another HPV-linked ailment which Indole-3-Carbinol is effective against is Laryngeal papillomatosis (LP). This is a rare medical condition where tumors develop inside the respiratory tract. The tumors commonly form on or close to the larynx (voice box). They could also develop in the lungs, trachea and bronchi. These tumors may cause constriction of the airway. This results in voice changes or breathing difficulties. Laryngeal papillomatosis is often caused by a HPV infection of the throat. Indole-3-Carbinol can be used to treat these tumors caused by Laryngeal papillomatosis. A study was conducted on mice transplanted with HPV-infected laryngeal tissue. At the end, just 25% of the mice which were fed with I3C developed laryngeal papillomatosis. All the control mice developed the condition.
A pilot study was carried out involving 49 LP patients. 400mg / day and 10 mg / day of I3C were taken by the participating adult and children respectively. Within the five year follow up period, 11 of the patients had their tumors cleared. 10 patients had a reduction in their tumor recurring rates. 12 patients experienced no improvements. The last 12 patients went out of touch.
The proper way to take Indole-3-Carbinol is by oral administration. This is because it needs to be broken down by stomach enzymes. If not taken orally, its therapeutic effects might not be felt.
It is safe to take I3C in amounts gotten from food sources. Yet, the supplement is known to cause some side effects when taken in huge doses. Mild effects like diarrhea and skin rashes have been reported. Disorientation and gastrointestinal disorder also occurred in some patients.
Slight increases in the amount of liver enzymes are also common. This enzymatic increase causes medication which passes through the liver to be over-metabolized. The medication, in turn, then loses its effectiveness. Some of the medications affected include pentazocine, fluvoxamine, zileuton and several others.
I3C has not been reported to interact with any other drug. Yet, new evidence show that I3C can increase CYP1A2 activity. This suggests that drugs metabolized by CYP1A2 might be affected by I3C. When taken in huge amounts, I3C can increase the activity of CYP3A4. This discovery shows a potential for drug interactions. This is because CYP3A4 takes part in the metabolism of more than 60% of therapeutic drugs. Common drugs which stop stomach acids will most likely prevent the breakdown of I3C. Some of these drugs are receptors antagonists, antacids, proton-pump inhibitors etc.
Moreso, prolonged use of Indole-3-Carbinol is unadvisable. It might actually promote the development of cancer in specific situations. A study carried out using male rats showed a possibility of fertility issues. Also, women who are past menopause might have a higher risk of osteoporosis. This is because of the estrogen-limiting effect of I3C.
No one has conducted proper research on the effect of I3C on pregnant women. Thus, it’s best if you consult a doctor before using I3C when pregnant. I3C is safe for children to use under medical supervision. Doses of 6 – 17 mg / kg of body weight have been effectively applied on children.