What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Indole-3-Carbinol Usage

Written by FoundHealth.


Effect of Indole-3-Carbinol on Cervical Cancer

Indole-3-carbinol appears to work in several ways:

  • Facilitating the conversion of estrogen to a less cancer-promoting form ^1,2,5,6 ^
  • Partially blocking the effects of estrogen on...

Read more about Cervical Cancer and Indole-3-Carbinol.

Therapeutic Uses

I3C is being studied as a chemopreventive agent: a substance that helps prevent cancer . Numerous animal studies suggest that I3C might help reduce the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers, as well as other types of cancer. 1 One double-blind, placebo-controlled study in humans suggests that it can help reverse cervical dysplasia , a precancerous condition. 2 Weaker evidence hints at benefits for vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia, a precancerous condition of the vulva. 3 Note: Do not attempt to treat cervical dysplasia, or any other precancerous or cancerous condition, without physician supervision.

Some evidence indicates that I3C might also help prevent recurrences of a rare condition called respiratory papillomatosis. 4 This disease involves benign tumors in the lungs, mouth, and vocal chords.

I3C has additionally been investigated as a liver protectant . 5 Further evidence suggests that I3C must be exposed to stomach acid to exert its full effects. 6 7 8 9 For this reason, individuals with low stomach acid, such as those taking H 2 blockers (eg, ranitidine [Zantac]) or proton pump inhibitors (eg, omeprazole [Prilosec]), may not benefit as much from I3C.


  1. Broadbent TA, Broadbent HS. The chemistry and pharmacology of indole-3-carbinol (indole-3-methanol) and 3-(methoxymethyl)indole. [Part II]. Curr Med Chem. 1998;5:469-491.
  2. Bell MC, Crowley-Nowick P, Bradlow HL, Sepkovic DW, Schmidt-Grimminger D, Howell P, Mayeaux EJ, Tucker A, Turbat-Herrera EA, Mathis JM. Placebo-controlled trial of indole-3-carbinol in the treatment of CIN. Gynecol Oncol. 78(2):123-9.
  3. Naik R, Nixon S, Lopes A, Godfrey K, Hatem MH, Monaghan JM. A randomized phase II trial of indole-3-carbinol in the treatment of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia. Int J Gynecol Cancer. 16(2):786-90.
  4. Rosen CA, Woodson GE, Thompson JW, Hengesteg AP, Bradlow HL. Preliminary results of the use of indole-3-carbinol for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 118(6):810-5.
  5. Shertzer HG, Berger ML, Tabor MW. Intervention in free radical mediated hepatotoxicity and lipid peroxidation by indole-3-carbinol. Biochem Pharmacol. 37(2):333-8.
  6. Bradfield CA, Bjeldanes LF. Modification of carcinogen metabolism by indolylic autolysis products of Brassica oleraceae. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1991;289:153-163.
  7. Bjeldanes LF, Kim JY, Grose KR, Bartholomew JC, Bradfield CA. Aromatic hydrocarbon responsiveness-receptor agonists generated from indole-3-carbinol in vitro and in vivo: comparisons with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 88(21):9543-7.
  8. Jellinck PH, Forkert PG, Riddick DS, Okey AB, Michnovicz JJ, Bradlow HL. Ah receptor binding properties of indole carbinols and induction of hepatic estradiol hydroxylation. Biochem Pharmacol. 45(5):1129-36.
  9. Arnao MB, Sanchez-Bravo J, Acosta M. Indole-3-carbinol as a scavenger of free radicals. Biochem Mol Biol Int. 39(6):1125-34.


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