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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-17 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is compound commonly found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. It has been found to have anti-cancer properties, as experimented in animals. This is possibly due to induction of hepatic cytochrome P450 enzymes that are involved in the detoxification of carcinogens.[1] The majority of ingested I3C is absorbed in the small intestine as diindolylmethane (DIM), which is thought to be the primary contributor to I3C's beneficial properties. DIM has been shown to selectively bind to estrogen receptors and may act as an estrogen antagonist at physiological concentration. In the liver, I3C promotes the metabolism of estrogen and increases the ratio of 2-hydroxy estrogen to 16-hydroxy estrogen. The 2-hydroxy estrogen, less active than the 16-hydroxy estrogen, generally are eliminated more rapidly from the body.

Food sources

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a compound found in high concentrations in vegetables of the Cruciferous or Brassica family including:

Brussels sprouts
collard greens
mustard greens


The proposed uses of Indole-3-carbinol include:

Prescribing considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.

  • Consuming foods high in Indole-3-carbinol is safe and the preferred way for most individuals.


There is limited research on the safety of I3C in supplement form.

  • Children: Supplementation is not advised.
  • Due to I3C's potential to affect estrogen metabolism, there's some concern that it could aggravate hormone-sensitive conditions such as hormone-dependent cancers, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Supplementing with I3C is not advised when pregnant or breastfeeding.


  1. Gaby AR (2011) Nutritional Medicine, Fritz Perlberg Publishing.