How Seed Cycling Can Help Balance Hormones
Seed cycling is great for balancing hormones!
First of all, what is seed cycling, and how does it work?
Seed cycling is a naturopathic method used to regulate and balance hormones, it’s specifically beneficial for women experiencing estrogen imbalance. Hormonal imbalance symptoms run the gauntlet and can include anything from mood swings, irregular or painful periods, acne, trouble sleeping, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, constipation or diarrhea, hair loss, infertility and so much more. (If you’ve been persistently experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it might be time to take a closer look - be sure to check out my article, “5 Signs Your Hormones Are Of Control” - it proved to be an eye-opener for lots of women!)
Seed cycling is the practice of consciously rotating specific seeds into your diet, during specific times of the month, in order to capitalize on their innate nutrition. By doing this in conjunction with the phases of your menstrual cycle, you can reap the benefits, aid estrogen imbalance, and improve hormone health!
The key is to utilize the seeds that carry the specific nutrients needed for balance - essential fatty acids, vitamins, and phytoestrogens - in order to stabilize the body’s production and metabolism of hormones. Phytoestrogens are compounds produced by plants which are able to bind to estrogen receptor sites in the body. These plant estrogens can be beneficial to women’s health and are found in various nuts, seeds, grains and medicinal herbs.
What conditions can seed cycling help?
Seed cycling can be used by anyone experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance (even menopausal, and peri-menopausal women as well!). Symptoms may include:
Terrible PMS (bloating, moods, pain, energy, headaches)
Fibrocystic and painful breasts
Low thyroid issues
Hair loss and brittle hair
Weight gain around the hip and thighs
For peri-menopausal and menopausal women, your symptoms may include:
Who is seed cycling for?
Seed cycling is great for any woman experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance as well as low estrogen. The symptoms of estrogen dominance can manifest as listed above. It is also the leading cause of estrogenic cancers such as breast, uterine and ovarian cancers. Thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer have also been linked to estrogen dominance.
The seed cycling method can also help women low in estrogens, which is the case with peri-menopause and menopause. This method can help by gently raising estrogen levels through seeds containing phytoestrogens, gentle, naturally-occurring estrogens. This is why many women who experience hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, and memory loss also report significant improvements from using the seed rotation method.
When should you begin seed cycling?
Naturally, your body has two main phases throughout its month-long cycle. So that your familiar, the two phases we’ll be working with are:
This phase starts the day your period begins, and ends when you move into ovulation. This will be days 1-14/15 of your menstrual cycle.
This phase begins when you start ovulating, and ends when you start your period again. This includes days 15/16-28/30 of your cycle.
*Everyone’s cycle is a little different, so the days will be specific to your cycle. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long (the time between the start of one period and the start of the next).
Ok so, how do I get started with seed cycling?
When your period arrives, and your body is in the follicular phase, try to consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seeds + raw pumpkin seeds each day, through day 14. These seeds can help naturally increase your estrogen while also providing fiber to support healthy estrogen metabolism. It's an excellent way to create a healthy level of estrogen without leading to excess levels, also known as estrogen dominance.
Flax seeds in particular are rich in lignans, which have a weak estrogenic effect and have been shown to be beneficial in preventing osteoporosis, improving estrogen and progesterone ratios, and even heart disease in women.
There have also been studies showing that cyclical breast tenderness - which often comes on right before you start your period - is improved by including flax seeds in your diet.
2. Eat sesame seeds or sunflower seeds during the luteal phase (days 15 through 28).
Following ovulation, or on day 15ish of your cycle, while your body is in the luteal phase, try to consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh ground sunflower + sesame seeds, each day for the remainder of your cycle. The second half of your cycle is when your progesterone levels rise and peak. Progesterone is the hormone that is responsible for easing unwanted PMS symptoms like bloating, mood swings, and insomnia.
Sesame seeds have been shown to be beneficial for women's hormones, even through menopause. Sesame and sunflower seeds also contain lignans and essential fatty acids that support the hormones that carry us through the luteal phase.
For postpartum moms, postmenopausal women or those who are experiencing amenorrhea (no periods), seed cycling can be done by following the moon cycle. For this method, use the new moon as your day 1, and begin by eating the flax seeds + pumpkin seeds mentioned above. When the full moon arrives, consider this the second phase of your cycle, and switch to the sunflower and sesame seeds.
Pretty simple, right?! Our bodies are capable of doing amazing things, and can actually heal themselves naturally from the inside out! If you’re currently experimenting with seed cycling, I’d love to hear your thoughts below, and if you have any questions regarding seed cycling, feel free to reach out to me directly - I’m happy to help!