Seed Cycling for Balanced Hormone 1

Seed Cycling for Balanced Hormone

Seed Cycling: the trendy and easy-to-do technique for glowing hormone health

Most women can produce adequate levels of hormones, necessary to support their healthy cycle. However, due to some health concerns, for instance conditions like PCOS, hypothyroidism as well as over exercising and being under or over-weight are contributing to rising hormonal imbalance in women. The female body goes through many changes: puberty, PMS, fertility and menopause…

A common emotional encounter women experience are highs and lows in their moods which affect them mentally, physically and emotionally. How do they respond to these changes? Through their hormones!

  • Do you feel moody around that time of the month? If so, you’re not alone. Symptoms of fatigue, changes in the skin, depression, anxiety and bloating amongst other symptoms are directly related to hormones. Since we now understand more that a healthy diet is key to restoring balance in both body and mind, then, it should not come as a surprise that using food as remedy is becoming increasingly popular.

  • Seed cycling is a new phenomenon, and a growing trend that is being widely used today to balance hormones. Therefore, it is not only recommended for young girls who are suffering from an irregular cycle, it is also recommended for women who are looking for ways that may boost fertility or ease their transition into menopause.

How can loading up your diet with certain seeds, at certain times of the month benefit the inner workings of your body?

Seed cycling is a method of using various seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower) to support the different phases of our monthly cycles which will help us to balance our hormone levels (estrogen in the first half of the cycle and progesterone in the second half).

Seed cycling may help:

  • Relieve PMS and perimenopause symptoms

  • Stimulate menstruation if it’s absent (amenorrhea)

  • Increase fertility and support the body in healing from serious conditions like ovarian cysts

  • Treat polycystic ovarian syndrome PCOS and endometriosis

  • Reduce symptoms of acne

  • Ease symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue and mood swings

  • Some researches also mention that it can improve thyroid hormone levels, hair health, weight loss, water retention and cellulite.

Cycling refers to the rotation of different seeds between a woman’s two main menstrual cycle phases (follicular and luteal), estrogen in the first half and progesterone in the second half; which helps to regulate hormone secretions within the body and further hormone secretions.

Our menstrual cycles consist of two main phases:

  • The follicular phase (phase 1): begins with menstruation

  • The luteal phase (phase 2): starts after ovulation

In traditional ideologies, the phases proceed on a 14-day rotation out of a 28-day cycle; phase 1 begins on the new moon, and phase 2 begins on the full moon. Realistically, a 28-day cycle doesn’t always happen. A woman’s cycle may range from 21 to 35 days. Why? Sometimes something as simple as being disconnected from nature can be considered a contributing factor to women’s cycles being off, as can experiencing chronic stress.

Consequently, using the method of seed cycling may help reset women’s menstrual cycle – as can spending time outdoors and practicing earthing and slowly setting about to follow the moon phases.

Seed cycling basically applies alternating seeds high in specific oils and nutrients to balance the hormones that are prevalent in each phase; estrogen and progesterone being the two key hormones that help regulate the menstrual cycle. Typically, women have higher estrogen levels at the beginning of the month and higher progesterone levels during the second half of the month.

How to seed cycle:

The concept is simple. The seed hull contains lignans (chemicals that bind to excess hormones), while the oils contain fatty acids (building blocks for hormones).

How does it work? You will consume one tablespoon of each of the specific ground seeds per day in equal parts (two tablespoons in total), during the follicular phase and the luteal phase.

FOLLICULAR PHASE

Starts on the first day of your menstruation and lasts for about 14 days. In a regular cycle, estrogen is produced during the first 14 days of the follicular phase. In this phase, our estrogen levels start low and steadily increase in preparation for ovulation and potential pregnancy as the egg is gradually becoming ripe. Rising estrogen levels increase luteinizing hormone (LH) levels; while a decrease in the estrogen levels will cause the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). To keep estrogens levels in balance, we cycle with flaxseeds that contain phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are compounds in plants that can mimic the action of estrogens. Phytoestrogens, found in flax seeds, are a plant-based source of estrogen that adapt to the body’s estrogen levels; if estrogen levels get too high, the lignans in the flax seeds can bind to the excess so it can be eliminated from the body. Therefore, eating flax seeds and pumpkin seeds during the first phase of your cycle is thought to boost estrogen production, as your body metabolizes lignans.

The lignans have also been shown to be beneficial in:

  • Preventing osteoporosis

  • Improving estrogen and progesterone ratios

  • Heart disease in women

  • Women with PCOS who consume flax seeds may also experience a positive shift in androgens, which are what cause hair loss and acne.

Along with phytoestrogens, omega 3 found in seeds help to reduce inflammation in the body, regulate FSH levels and support reproductive membrane functions. Additionally, seeds are also rich in essential fatty acids like zinc and selenium, which are the building blocks for natural hormones. Some research studies signify that Pumpkin seeds may help in breast cancer preventative. Zinc from pumpkin seeds promotes progesterone production in preparation for the next phase of the cycle. Additionally, the seeds contain fiber to support healthy estrogen metabolism in order to avoid estrogen dominance.

You can start phase 1 of the cycling on the first day of your period. When your period arrives, eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seeds and raw pumpkin seeds through Day 14. Then continue for approximately 14 days. If you know your ovulation day, you can continue the cycle until this day. If your follicular phase lasts longer than three weeks, then this is a sign that you may have imbalances.

Flax Seeds (freshly ground)

+ High in lignans to block excess estrogen production

+ High in Omega 3s

Pumpkin Seeds (ideally ground, can also be consumed hulled or whole)

+ Rich in zinc, which prepares the body for progesterone secretion in the next phase

+ High in omega 3s

Fish Oil (Bonus)

+ Contains EPA and DHA, important Omega 3 fats found only in cold water fish

+ High in lignans

Once an egg has been released, the luteal phase starts, and progesterone and estrogen levels gradually increase to support conception and implantation.

LUTEAL PHASE

The Luteal phase begins after ovulation, on day 15 approximately. This phase is brought on by a sudden drop in estrogen after ovulation. In the case when of an irregular cycle, or amenorrhea, an easy start date is on the first day of the new moon.

On Day 15, you will begin to consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh ground sunflower and sesame seeds.

Biologically, during this phase, the now empty follicle turns into a structure called the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and helps to build up your uterine lining, in preparation for pregnancy. Progesterone is the key hormone for easing unwanted PMS symptoms like bloating, mood swings and insomnia.

The luteal phase should ideally last at least for ten days, otherwise it’s an indicator of low progesterone. Progesterone enhances the endometrium (uterine lining) in order to facilitate for egg implantation. The luteal phase is brought on by the sudden drop in estrogen, FSH and LH, which occurs after ovulation. Estrogen levels can also increase during this phase, but if the levels are too high, then they may be responsible for the PMS symptoms. Progesterone is the hormone that keeps estrogen in check, so the focus here should be to continuously produce enough progesterone.

Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds contain lignans and essential fatty acids that are supportive to our hormonal balance. A type of polyphenol, which is found in sesame, blocks excess estrogen production. Meanwhile, the vitamin E in sunflower seeds helps to boost progesterone levels. In this phase focus on Omega 6 is key. Omega 6 converts into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the body; supporting progesterone production and reducing inflammation in the body related to PMS. Therefore, a high-quality evening primrose oil supplement can be supplemented during this phase for extra GLAs. (You will have to first consult with your physician).

Sesame Seeds

+ High in selenium, which supports liver function to prevent clogging from excess hormones, resulting in proper hormone excretion

+ High in Omega 6 (which converts into GLA in the body)

Evening Primrose Oil (Bonus)

+ High in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and other important Omega 6 fatty acids

A final note on seed cycling

In order to start to feel changes, it may take three to four months of repeating the cycles. It is not an overnight fix-it solution, neither is it a cure to serious hormonal conditions.

Things to remember

  • Always use raw (unroasted, unsalted/seasoned) seeds to ensure they have their medicinal properties in full. Use organic seeds when available. The flax and sesame seeds need to be freshly ground.

  • Seeds are high in fats and can oxidize when left in sunlight and warmer temperatures. Try to keep them in a cool/dry place, preferably in the fridge.

  • Seeds can be eaten with other foods. Try them in a smoothie, salad, soup or a grain bowl. If you’re eating them with warm foods, add them to the dish after cooking to avoid denaturing of nutrients.

How to get creative with your seeds cycling

  • Blend into smoothies

  • Make a yogurt parfait with seeds instead of granola

  • Sprinkle them on salads

  • Add them to your morning oatmeal

  • Include them in a no-bake energy bar or cookie recipe

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