DIM (Diindolylmethane) Supplement bottle

DIM: the Supplement You Should Try for Hormonal Acne

I know what you’re thinking – you’ve seen clickbait like this before. There are tons of products out there being touted as the cure for acne, and if you’re like me, you’ve tried about a million different ones, all with less than stellar results.

For those who have followed me on my blog for a while, you know that I have a long history with acne. I was on Accutane as a teenager, and even after that I still continued to battle acne into my early 20’s and beyond. I went on extreme diets to try to control my acne and make my skin perfect. I got to where my acne was manageable, but never achieved perfection.

About 6 months ago, now a 34-year-old woman, I started getting crazy breakouts again for what seemed like no reason. Like, 3-4 new pimples DAILY! (Not just regular ones either, the huge ones that take like 2 weeks to go away which then leave marks on your skin that take months to go away!) That’s when I started getting strict with my diet again to try to control them, and I wrote a post titled, “Would You Eat Salmon Every Day for Clear Skin?”

That post got a lot of likes, and even now still seems to be popular among my readers. (I think it might be my most-liked post.) I think this is a testament (NOT to how great a writer I am – I wish!) to how many people are dealing with the issue of acne and looking for a solution. When you’re desperate for a cure, you are constantly Googling things, and you get to the point where you’re willing to try anything.

Part of the problem with acne is that it’s so hard to nail down the reason WHY you have it – acne can be caused by food intolerances, hormones, sensitivity to skin or hair products, dirty pillowcases, excess oil… I knew that some of my issues were coming from food – sugar seemed to cause breakouts in me, as well as too many carbs, or overeating in general.

But it also dawned on me that I was primarily dealing with hormonal acne, which doesn’t always respond to dietary changes or topical treatments. I came to this conclusion for three reasons:

1. I consistently had large breakouts on my chin

2. I remembered when I was pregnant, that my acne virtually went away

3. Back on one of my extreme dieting phases, when I got so thin my period actually stopped, my acne also stopped (aka. no hormones, no acne)

Back in April, I was in one of my Googling phases, trying to see if anyone out there had solutions I hadn’t yet tried or thought of for hormonal acne. I came across a health and wellness blog, Living Minnaly, and read a post from 2019 where she talked about how she had successfully managed her hormonal acne (and she even included pictures of her before and after, which is always helpful for us skeptics.)

You can read her post to hear her full story, but in a nutshell, one of the supplements she describes as “magical” for acne was Diindolylmethane (DIM). I had never heard of it before. She recommended this brand, which also contained dong quai and chasteberry (Vitex), two herbs that I had heard of in the context of treating hormonal acne.

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When Healthy Eating Becomes Too “Healthy”

(TW for disordered eating)

I wanted to write a follow-up to my post about eating salmon every day for clear skin – I got a lot of “likes” on that post, so it seems like it’s a topic of interest, or at least intrigue, for many.

First of all, you may be wondering: how is my skin doing? Am I still eating salmon every day? 

The answers to those questions are that my skin is doing okay – it’s not perfect, mind you – and I am NOT eating salmon every day anymore. 

I was eating salmon daily for a while, and my skin really did improve (I was also limiting my sugar, gluten, and dairy, as those also seemed to be triggers for acne for me.) But even so, my skin still never fully achieved perfection. 

I have a friend who on Facebook is an advocate for fighting against disordered eating and fatphobia. Her posts have recently challenged me to think about my own relationship to food, and my own dieting habits. I realized that I was slowly getting stricter and stricter with my diet – I was eating salmon daily, but also cutting out multiple other foods. I was looking at food only in terms of “will this make me break out or not?” I began to be afraid to eat many foods, even small amounts of them. At the same time, sometimes I really craved eating some ice cream or a cookie! But I felt stuck in my rigid diet because I knew eating those things would make my skin break out. 

I had to be honest with myself and admit that this was unhealthy, and probably verging on disordered eating. And I’ve got a history of disordered eating (look up the term “orthorexia”), and I didn’t want to get to that place again. I wasn’t afraid of becoming fat or overweight, but I was terrified of having bad skin, of looking less than perfect. Acne-phobic? Imperfect-phobic?

I had also really wanted to clear my skin naturally – not using any sort of pills or topical medications or anything like that. I had hoped that eating the right foods (and not eating the wrong foods) would just balance my body out on its own. But instead, I think I set myself up to try to reach an impossible goal. I realized I was so preoccupied with what I was eating, and so scared of my skin breaking out, that it was affecting my life, and that I needed to make a change. 

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The Connection Between Your Mental Health and Physical Health

For the past few weeks, I’ve been really tired. Like REALLY tired. I found myself falling asleep on the couch after work – going to bed at 8:30 – coming home in the middle of the day to take naps… It seemed like no matter how much sleep I got, I still felt exhausted. 

I began wondering if something weird was going on. Was I sick? Was I pregnant? Did I have COVID and my only symptom was intense fatigue? 

If you’re a follower of my blog, you’ll notice that in the past three weeks, I haven’t published anything. Not only that, I really didn’t write anything at all those few weeks – not drafts, not personal journaling or anything. I normally try to get up early to have quiet devotional time and to write, but even though I set my alarm to get up early (and had gone to bed at a reasonable hour), I still woke up every day feeling tired and hit the snooze button.

What was going on? 

I have this sweatshirt I purchased recently that says “Mental health is health.” I love it not only because it’s cute and comfortable, but because of the message it broadcasts. Mental health affects our physical health. They are so intricately connected that to really be in a state of health at all, our mental health must be cared for. 

It only takes doing a quick Google search to get thousands of results on the link between mental health and physical health. One of the results I found was from the Hillside Mental Health Facility’s blog, and it described some of the warning signs that a person’s mental health may be negatively shifting, which included:

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Increasing irritability and mood swings
  • Loss of performance at school or work

Looking back, I realize now that I was also losing motivation at work, and having increased irritability with members of my family. Basically, I was exhibiting most of these warning signs. 

I should have noticed more of the red flags. I know from past experience that when I’m stressed or overwhelmed, (or when depression might be kicking in), I tend to cope by sleeping. Some people can’t sleep when they’re anxious or stressed, but I tend to start checking out and want to sleep all of the time. 

In the book Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, (one of my top recommended books!) she describes the idea of your “window of tolerance” (WOT). She is referring to our ability to tolerate discomfort, specifically emotional discomfort. All of us have an amount of emotional discomfort or growing pains that we can tolerate – this is our “just right” amount where we won’t be at risk of becoming overwhelmed emotionally and physiologically. But once we hit our limits, we can either go into hyperarousal or hypoarousal. 

Hyperarousal mode feels like being overwhelmed with adrenaline or anger. You are out of control. You may feel the need to be moving (trying to flee whatever stressful event you are experiencing).

Hypoarousal mode causes a person to feel sluggish or depressed. You become disconnected from the world. In a word, numb. 

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