Sadly, having a hormonal imbalance these days is not uncommon. I know a variety of women (myself included) who suffer from a multitude of hormone related issues (this includes PMS, irregular periods, amenorrhea, ovarian cysts, fibroids, and so on). While there are a ton of different prescriptions and supplements aimed to help women overcome these issues, I think its always good to try and see if using a more natural approach can help first. Since I have been using the seed cycling protocol for over 5 years now, I thought I'd share my experience and how this natural method has helped me.
SO, EXACTLY WHAT IS SEED CYCLING?
Seed Cycling is a natural way of balancing female sex hormones (especially estrogen and progesterone) by consuming different types of seeds throughout a woman's monthly cycle. These seeds include flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds.
WHY SEED CYCLE?
Proponents of seed cycling say that it can assist with balancing hormones, combat PMS symptoms such as hormonal acne, fatigue, breast pain, and abnormal bleeding, and help to regulate periods.
HOW DOES SEED CYCLING WORK?
A woman's monthly cycle consists of a delicate balance of fluctuating hormones. This cycle is dominated by two key hormones, estrogen and progesterone. The hormone estrogen is dominate in the first half of a woman's cycle (Day 1-14) and is responsible for maturing the egg and developing the uterine lining. During the second half of a woman's cycle (Day 15-28), progesterone helps thicken the uterine lining to prepare for a fertilized egg. If fertilization does not occur, progesterone will then drop for menstruation. Using different seeds throughout this process may help support these different hormones with specific nutrients. Seeds also contain beneficial lignans which help bind excess estrogen, and provide essential fatty-acids which are needed for hormone synthesis.
PHASE 1: DAY 1-14
(Day 1 begins on first day of period)
Consume 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds and/or 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds per day.
FLAX SEEDS - Contain lignans which help to bind excess estrogen so that it can be eliminated from the body.
PUMPKIN SEEDS - High in zinc which helps to support progesterone production for phase 2.
PHASE 2: DAY 15-28 (OR WHEN PERIOD STARTS)
Consume 1 tbsp of sunflower seeds and/or 1 tbsp of sesame seeds.
SUNFLOWER SEEDS - Contain high amounts of selenium which is important for detoxification and hormonal balance. Selenium is also an important nutrient for thyroid function.
SESAME SEEDS - Also high in lignans to help excrete excess estrogen.
WHAT IF I DON’T GET A PERIOD?
No worries! Seed cycling can also be done using the moon. Start phase 1 on the first day of the new moon and phase 2 begins 14 days in.
DOES SEED CYCLING ACTUALLY WORK?
It can take up to 3-4 months to see significant improvements from seed cycling. You should also combine with other diet and lifestyles modifications for optimal hormone balancing results.
Although there are currently no studies showing the direct correlation between seed cycling and improved hormonal balance, a study in 1993 found that women taking 1 tbsp of flax daily lengthened the luteal phase which resulted in fewer months with no ovulation. (Phipps et al., 1993).
HOW SEED CYCLING HAS HELPED ME:
I have noticed a vast improvement since I have begun seed cycling; but I must disclose that I have implemented in other diet and lifestyle changes that have also helped to improve my hormonal issues. I have been experiencing far less PMS symptoms (particularly no more breast pain and cramping) and more regular periods. I also know that these seeds are highly nutritious and provide an array of micronutrients so consuming them regularly also helps me to hit my nutritional needs.
MY TIPS AND TRICKS:
- Consider grinding your seeds before use in a coffee grinder. This helps the seeds to be better absorbed.
- It's best to buy raw, organic, and unsalted seeds.
- You can consume seeds in "butter" form; sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter and tahini (sesame seed butter).
WAYS TO CONSUME SEEDS:
Flax Seeds - Great blended into smoothies and mixed into oatmeal.
Pumpkin Seeds - Awesome toppers for salads, oatmeal or smoothie bowls. My recipe, Toasted Maple Muesli, also contains pumpkin seeds!
Sunflower Seeds - Another great topper for salads, oatmeal or smoothie bowls. Sunbutter is also great on toast or mixed into baked goods or smoothies.
Sesame Seeds - Amazing addition to stir-fry dishes and buddha bowls. Tahini (sesame seed butter) is delicious drizzled on sweet potatoes or used as a base to a sauce.
Disclaimer: Information provided is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. Please always consult your physician or health care provider.