Seed Cycling for Restoring your Hormonal Balance
The concept of naturally and ease-fully regulating one's hormones may seem like a distant dream.
The idea of being able to naturally balance and regulate the complex hormonal system with a simple at-home, the method may seem unimaginable. Yet there is an effective and inexpensive way to do so. It is a practice known as Seed Cycling and it’s becoming more and more prevalent. I have experienced its benefits first hand and cannot recommend it highly enough. It has helped keep me sane in these crazy, modern times.
Within the holistic world, this practice is gaining popularity as many are having great results with it. It gets to the root of hormonal imbalance by providing natural nutritional support that allows your cycle to get in sync with its natural rhythm. Through the use of whole foods, specific seeds are used during particular times of the cycle to help it
regulate itself. There’s no need for complicated tests, supplements or pharmaceuticals. By following a diet rotation symptoms such as PMS, irregular mensuration, cramping even infertility issues can be corrected.
A Bit of Background
There are two main hormones that regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle - estrogen and progesterone. During the first half of the cycle, estrogen rises and during the second half, progesterone rises. The imbalance occurs between these two hormones and is often the reason so many women experience less than ideal symptoms such as acne, irregularity, painful cramping, PMS and more.
What is Seed Cycling?
It is the simple practice of incorporating different seeds such as pumpkin, flax, sunflower and sesame seeds into one's diet during specific times of the menstrual cycle. The seeds used at the first half balance estrogen levels by helping it to detox properly and the seeds in the second half help to increase progesterone production. It is within this delicate
balance of these two hormones that sustained health and equilibrium can be maintained within the body. Estrogen dominance is a common, modern-day issue and it helps to remedy that from within.
Two seeds that are utilized are Flax (Linum usitatissimum) and Sesame (Sesamumindicum) both contain lignans which aid in the body’s ability to bind to excess estrogen. The Omega-3s contained within the seeds help to maintain the proper function of cellular receptor sites stimulates the production of progesterone and aids in overall hormonal balance. These seeds also contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals such as zinc and selenium that support proper hormone release and is crucial for both liver detoxification and thyroid hormone conversion.
Here is a list of common symptoms that are often closely related to hormonal imbalances.
- Adrenal issues
- Bleeding that is too light or too heavy
- Excess abdominal fat caused by sugar overconsumption
- Excessive sweating
- Heavy bleeding
- Irregular periods
- Low libido
- Painful periods
- Post-menopausal symptoms
- Thyroid disorders
How To Seed Cycle?
The seeds are rotated from day one of your menstrual cycle to day 14 (Phase 1) and from day 14 to the first day of your next period, typically on a new or full moon (Phase 2) Make sure to note that Day 1 counts as the first day of real flow, not just spotting. You will want to write this down on a calendar to help you keep track. For women who are more regular with their cycle and have it between 25-29 days, simply rotate with your own cycle. For those who have irregular or shorter cycles (less than 25 days or more than 29 days) rotate with the lunar cycle itself. This also applies to women who have already gone through menopause.
By connecting back to our cycles and the cycle of the moon itself we tap into the larger rhythms of the planet we live on. Through the waxing and waning of the moon, our bodies are able to find the compass that can give it direction and structure in a very chaotic world. Ideally, our bodies will stay in balance with the natural hormonal rhythm that also follows the moon’s 28-day cycle. Naturally, we are most fertile during the Full Moon and the least fertile on the New Moon. The practice of seed cycling helps us to embody the natural pulse around us and bring that into the body in a way it can recognize and harness to balance itself.
Preparing Seeds for Seed Cycling:
It’s very important to first soak the seeds you are going to use to remove the phytic acid contained within them. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of certain minerals, so please don’t omit this step! First, rinse the seeds under cool water. Next, fill a glass jar half full of seeds of your choice. To this, add one teaspoon of sea salt. Cover with filtered water and allow to sit out at room temperature between 12 and 24 hours. Once the time has passed, drain off the water, rinse well and dehydrate seeds in a dehydrator at 110 F. The seeds will remain raw this way. Once they are dried completely, the seeds are now ready to be used in seed cycling. You can store excess seeds in a glass jar in the refrigerator to help prevent them from going rancid. When you are ready to use them, simply grind the seeds in a coffee grinder each day before use. Grinding them fresh also helps prevent rancidity as the oils in seeds is highly volatile and prone to rancidity. For this reason, I don’t recommend that you purchase pre-ground seeds, as the fats are often rancid as well.
Phase One - the Follicular Phase
Day 1 - 14 of your cycle
- The follicular phase starts on the first day of your period and lasts until ovulation.
- During this phase, we are regulating the absorption and production of estrogen. This vital hormone prepares the body for ovulation. If the woman’s body doesn’t produce enough estrogen ovulation might not occur. However, if too much estrogen is produced it can stir up many symptoms often associated with PMS.
- Similarly, it is very important that we maintain a balanced level of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids during this phase as they too aid with proper hormone circulation.
- I recommend using 1 Tablespoon of each raw, freshly ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds per day.
- Supplementing with a high-quality fish oil is helpful too.
- If you know that you suffer from low estrogen levels, omit the flax seeds or use them lightly during this phase.
Phase Two -The Luteal Phase
(Day 14 - 28)
- During the beginning of this phase is ovulation.
- The seeds used during this time help to increase progesterone levels through their high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Progesterone is what builds the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the levels of progesterone naturally fall and the lining of the uterus is shed. Maintaining balanced progesterone is necessary for a healthy pregnancy as well as lightening PMS symptoms.
- I recommend using 1 Tablespoon of each raw, freshly ground sesame seeds and sunflower seeds
- Supplementing with Evening Primrose oil (though it can be estrogenic for some women if that’s the case take Black Currant oil instead).
- The sesame seeds help increase the bioavailability of sunflower seeds, which is a great and delicious addition to the seed rotation. Sunflower seeds are rich in fat-soluble vitamins and Omega-6s which greatly support overall reproductive health. If you happen to know that your level of zinc might be low don’t use sesame seeds as they contain high levels of copper and with increased copper levels often zinc levels become too low.
Ideas for adding seeds into the diet:
- Sprinkle them on salads or blend them into the smoothies
- Make crackers
- Make seed and nut bars
- Sesame seeds are delicious when sprinkled on a healthy dessert
- Make tahini - use tahini in salad dressings, topped over veggies bowls, in smoothies, in soups
It’s important to maintain patience with this practice as it may take several months for the results to appear. As is typical with addressing the root of any health issue they typically aren’t fixed overnight. The intricate world of hormones is greatly influenced by this simple practice, but it will take dedication as well. I recommend keeping a journal to help yourself track your own cycle and that of the moon as well as the symptoms and experience you are having. The ritual of tuning into our bodies and paying attention to these larger cycles is some of the most profound, fulfilling and life-giving work we can do.
I also highly recommend getting your hormones tested and talking to qualified health-care practitioners before diving deep into hormones related protocols on your own. Once you feel ready to embark on this natural and holistic way of balancing hormones I think you will be greatly impressed with the results.