In today’s world, stress, environmental toxins, food additives, digestive issues, food intolerances, and excessive consumption of alcohol and coffee can disrupt hormonal balance. That is why seed cycling can be such a great hormone-balancing tool. Not only can it easily be added to your diet, it’s gentle on the body, non-invasive, low in cost and delicious too!
How does seed cycling it work?
Seed cycling is a gentle way to balance your hormones throughout the two phases of your menstrual cycle using the nutrients found in seeds. Your cycle is divided into two main phases, by supporting oestrogen in the first phase and progesterone in the second phase, seed cycling can help relieve PMS, support fertility, may support pain from conditions like ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and PCOS, and regulate irregular cycles. It can be effective for women who are menstruating, pre-menopause, postpartum, and post-menopause.
The two main phases:
In a typical 28-day cycle, the follicular phase lasts from day 1 to 14 (around the time of ovulation), and this is when your body is producing oestrogen.
Oestrogen levels start low and steadily increase to prepare for ovulation. To keep oestrogen levels balanced, the use of flax seeds will provide phytoestrogens that adapt to the body’s oestrogen needs during this phase. If oestrogen levels get too high, the lignans in the flaxseeds can bind to the excess so it can be eliminated from the body. The use of pumpkin seeds provides zinc to support progesterone production in the next phase.
During this phase, it is recommended that you introduce 1 tablespoon of flaxseed and pumpkin seeds daily, which are rich in phytoestrogens, a gentle, naturally occurring form of oestrogen. <Image of Flaxseed/pumpkin seeds>
Good to know
Seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are also beneficial during this phase to reduce inflammation and support reproductive functions. Eating 2-3 portions of wild fatty fish (such as salmon) or taking a high-quality fish oil supplement is encouraged during this phase. There are also alternatives if you are vegan such as an algae-based omega-3 supplement instead. It is thought omega-3 fatty acids may support conception through improving the ‘stickiness’ of the uterus and implantation.
The Luteal Phase
The luteal phase lasts from day 15 to 28, and during this phase, your progesterone levels steadily increase (until your period starts). This phase is brought on by a sudden drop in oestrogen once ovulation has occurred. Progesterone levels begin to steadily rise and the uterine lining begins to thicken. Oestrogen will also begin to increase to prepare for the menstrual cycle, however, an excess amount of oestrogen may result in PMS symptoms and painful periods. Progesterone is the hormone that keeps oestrogen in check, so our focus here is to encourage the body to make progesterone.
During this phase, it is beneficial to eat 1 tablespoon of sunflower and sesame seeds daily, during this time. The high levels of zinc and selenium in sesame seeds block excess oestrogen which is required to balance hormones. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E to support progesterone production.
Good to know
The seeds also provide quality gamma-linolenic acids (GLAs) which are also beneficial during this phase to boost progesterone and reduce inflammation. A high-quality evening primrose oil supplement can be taken during this phase as an additional support which will also support ovulation and cervical mucus to transport sperm to the egg.
Irregular or no cycle?
Ancient wisdom believes that the follicular phase should begin on a new moon and the luteal phase begins on the full moon. Although this doesn’t always happen, the theory is a woman’s typical cycle is 28 days, which is just about the length of a full lunar cycle. The belief is that we were made to be at peak fertility (ovulation) during the full moon when nights are brightest (so you can see your partner!) and low fertility (menstruation) at the new moon when nights are darkest.
We are all individuals and therefore do not always cycle following a textbook 28-day cycle. Don’t let this stop you seed cycling. If you have cycles that are irregular cycle or no period, that’s ok, just follow the cycle of the moon, taking the flax/pumpkin seeds from full moon to new moon, and the sesame/sunflower combo from new moon to full moon.
Tip: It’s best to consume seeds raw rather than roasted or seasoned. Only prepare a few days max at a time, seeds will oxidize and become less potent. Keep them in the fridge or freezer to preserve their delicate fats, and ideally grind your seeds immediately before consuming them. Sprinkle them on salads or muesli, whizz them into smoothies or make them into raw seed butters or tahini.