What is seed cycling? (and why you should try it)
If you dread your period or often miss a period, listen up. Because missed periods, heavy bleeding, pimples, sore breasts, headaches, and mood swings are all signs that your hormones are out of whack. And seed cycling could be the answer you’re looking for. Seed cycling is a simple and natural method to help restore hormonal balance.
Hormonal imbalances mess with your body, mind, and skin
Your cycle has two phases. First, the follicular phase. This starts the first day of your period and lasts for about 14 days when ovulation occurs. During this phase, estrogen is queen. Next is the luteal phase. Which starts on day 15. And this is when progesterone really kicks in. During both phases, testosterone remains relatively constant with a small blip around ovulation.
For your periods to be as regular and painless as possible, your hormones must rise and fall accordingly. But for a variety of reasons, this doesn’t happen for many women. Which can cause symptoms that affect your body, mind, and skin. Some women experience estrogen dominance, which means the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is too high.
Symptoms include irregular periods and all the usual suspects associated with PMS in addition to:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss (on head)
- Excessive facial and body hair
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Irregular cycles
These conditions can also affect the health of your thyroid, which is responsible for your metabolism among many other vital functions. So you can see why balancing your hormones is key when it comes to your health and well-being.
Seed cycling is a natural method to help balance your hormones
While there isn’t much research on seed cycling yet, it appears to be a promising approach to support optimal hormonal health. And I love that it’s 100% natural and easy to follow. So if you’re struggling, I recommend giving it try. You have nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain. All you’re required to do is eat certain types of seeds during each phase of your cycle.
Seed Cycling Chart
This seed cycling chart quickly shows which seeds to eat and when. Continue reading below the chart for a more detailed explanation.
|Follicular||1 - 14||Flaxseeds (ground) Pumpkin seeds||1 to 2 Tablespoons|
|Luteal||15 - 28||Sesame seeds (ground) Sunflower seeds (ground)||1 to 2 Tablespoons|
Eat flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds during the follicular phase (days 1 - 14)
On each day of the follicular phase, consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw pumpkin seeds (not roasted or toasted) and freshly ground flaxseeds. I always recommend organic seeds. Especially when trying to balance your hormones. Because the chemicals in pesticides are known for messing with your hormones. Ground flaxseeds can easily be added to any smoothie or shake. They also mix in well with yogurt or nut butters. Pumpkin seeds can be eaten plain. But they can also be added to salads and soups as well as used to make pesto. They taste great and they add a wonderful texture. Now, if you don’t have a means to freshly grind your own flaxseeds, such as a spice or coffee grinder, then store your ground flaxseeds in the freezer to maximize freshness. Otherwise the delicate oils oxidize and become rancid.
Hormonal Benefits of Flaxseeds
Both flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are believed to help raise your estrogen levels, but not too much. Plus, your body needs a way to properly remove excess estrogen. And the fiber in these seeds can help with that. Flaxseeds in particular have a high concentration of lignans, an antioxidant with fiber-like benefits. They also behave like phytoestrogens, which can have a weak estrogenic effect in the body. And when your hormones are imbalanced, this can be helpful.
In this study, when women consumed a daily dose of 10 grams of ground flaxseeds, they experienced a longer cycle, a higher ratio of progesterone to estrogen in the luteal phase, and less miss periods. Plus, research suggests diets rich in lignans may help reduce your risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Yes, please! Flaxseeds are also a good source of magnesium, which can help detoxify excess estrogen.
Magnesium is also known as nature’s chill pill, which we all could use these days. Especially when your hormones are driving you crazy. You will also find selenium in flaxeeds, which is potent antioxidant. It’s also been linked to healthy hormones as well as a healthy thyroid. Finally, the omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds also play a role in healthy estrogen levels. However, your body must first convert the form of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) in flaxseeds into EPA and DHA before they can have this effect. And the conversion rate is pretty low.
Hormonal Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Now when it comes to pumpkin seeds, they’re an excellent source of magnesium and zinc. Zinc is an antioxidant. It’s also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with period pain. Plus, this study found that low zinc levels were associated with PCOS in women. Which suggests zinc may inhibit the effects of excess testosterone. And a recent review of zinc validates its long historical use as a natural weapon against acne.
Eat sesame and sunflower seeds during the luteal phase (days 15 - 28)
After 14 days of eating flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds, switch to 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly ground sesame and sunflower seeds daily. Sunflower seeds can easily be added to smoothies and shakes or used to make sunflower seed butter. Sesame seeds are great for topping many dishes, especially those with an Asian influence. But you could also make a delicious tahini and use it as dip or a salad dressing.
Hormonal Benefits of Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are packed with magnesium, zinc, and selenium. An excellent combination when it comes to hormonal health. This study found that sesame seeds may help with the metabolism of estrogen, which could then allow progesterone to shine in the luteal phase. And you want this to happen. Because low levels of progesterone is what causes the dreaded symptoms of PMS. It’s also worth mentioning that sesame seeds (and pumpkin seeds) are rich in iron. And having a good supply of iron is important during your period to prevent anemia.
Hormonal Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are rich in B vitamins, especially B1, B3, B6, and folate. This study found that B6 and folate are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer by improving the regulation of estrogen and progesterone. This study had similar results with the addition of B1 (thiamine). Sunflower seeds are also high in vitamin E. A potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient. And this study found that vitamin E helps keep estrogen in check. Which is how the researchers proposed vitamin E helps prevent breast cancer.
The Bottom Line
While there’s little scientific evidence for the specific practice of seed cycling today, there is research suggesting specific nutrients in the seeds recommended can have a profound effect on your hormones and how they work in your body. So don’t underestimate the power of these tiny nutrient-packed foods. And if your hormones are in need of some of TLC, seed cycling is definitely worth a shot. But keep in mind how well the rest of your body is functioning also matters. Nothing works in isolation, especially your gut. Which means seed cycling while eating crap and drowning your worries in wine probably won’t do you any good. Healing always requires a whole body and mind approach.
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!