Have you heard of seed cycling?
It’s so cool!
Seed cycling is a simple, healthy and effective way to help balance estrogen levels in the body during the first phase of your cycle and then progesterone levels during the second phase. Bringing these hormones into proper balance can help alleviate PMS, regulate periods, ease symptoms of PCOS, and increase fertility…drug-free! It’s also a great way to get your natural cycle back after coming off hormonal birth control.
I was skeptical at first, as I always am with any of this kind of stuff. But I’m also on a mission to set myself up so that I can avoid the horrible experience so many women have as they go through perimenopause and menopause. Even more importantly, I’m also on a mission to teach my girls the tricks, tools and techniques they need to naturally balance their hormones early in life, so they can avoid the hormone roller coaster I’ve struggled with. Crazy PMS, period pain and having to put your life on hold during your period is NOT NORMAL. And, it can be managed relatively easily through whole foods, supplements and yup…seeds!
Hormonal imbalance is pretty much inevitable and pretty much every woman could use some help with it. Stress, medications (particularly the birth control pill), foods, illness, lack of sleep, and toxins (environmental and household) are all contributors to hormone imbalance and there are precious few of us who haven’t been exposed to at least one of these. Continuous exposure to these things mess with your hormone levels, causing such symptoms as PMS, anxiety, preimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, painful periods (again, NOT normal), fertility issues and mood swings. Balancing estrogen and progesterone levels in the body can alleviate many of these symptoms.
Allow me to introduce: Seed Cycling!
Your menstrual cycle has two phases: follicular (days 1-14) and luteal (days 15-28). The follicular phase starts on the first day of bleeding. Estrogen levels start low and then steadily builds to get ready for ovulation. The luteal phase starts around day 15 and sees a sudden drop in estrogen just after ovulation. Progesterone levels should start to build at this point to get the body ready for pregnancy. Often, progesterone levels do not increase enough which can lead to a situation called estrogen dominance. This would be why we find ourselves feeling moody, not sleeping well, and with painful PMS and periods. Progesterone is like an estrogen regulator in the sense that when its levels are where they should be, estrogen levels are kept in control. The balance between the two, during the appropriate phase, is important for good hormonal health.
Seed cycling uses the nutritional components in freshly ground seeds (flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame) to promote balance of estrogen and progesterone in the body. Used during the follicular phase, flax seeds are high in phytoestrogens (lignans) that help control estrogen levels based on what the body needs. For example, if estrogen levels get too high, lignans can bind to excess estrogen to help remove it from the body. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which helps to prepare the body for progesterone secretion in the luteal phase. Both of these provide additional fiber that helps support estrogen metabolism. For the luteal phase, sesame seeds are high in zinc and selenium which blocks excess estrogen. Sunflower seeds are used because of their high Vitamin E content, which supports healthy progesterone levels.
Seed cycling requires just two easy steps:
- On days 1-14 of your period, consume 1 tbsp each of fresh ground flax and raw pumpkin seeds (day 1 is the first day of bleeding).
- On days 15-28 of your period, consume 1 tbsp each of fresh ground sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
This is not an instant fix. It will likely take at least three cycles, even 4 of using the seeds consistently before you notice any significant improvement in your cycle and/or symptoms. Keep a journal during the process to track specific changes you notice in the days leading up to the start of your period (or day 1 of the new moon) – headaches, bloating, bleeding, fatigue, moods, timing, etc.
Seriously…it works. My daughter and I started doing this last January. She’d been really struggling with irregular, heavy periods, crazy mood swings and cravings. By the third cycle, she came to me saying it was “so weird”, but that her period started just 2-3 days beyond 28 days and they’ve consistently been that way ever since!
Do yourself a favour and give seed cycling a try. And if you have daughters, please tell them about it and get them doing it! Anything we can do to help ourselves and our daughters not have to suffer through normal life processes (whether it be periods, perimenopause, or menopause) is so totally worth it. We don’t have to suffer just because we’re women.