Seed Cycling: A Holistic Way to Balance Hormones

Let's talk Seed Cycling. 

The new approach to irregular cycles and imbalanced hormones. More and more naturopaths are beginning to prescribe this way of using food as medicine and embracing nature's way to healing. 

So what is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling is an amazing approach to addressing underlying hormonal issues and can be beneficial to women at any stage of a woman's life. In my own journey I found this very helpful when I was detoxing my body off of hormonal birth control and beginning to transition back to my natural cycle. Since I suffer with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), it is common for me to experience irregular cycles. However, I have found seed cycling to be an effective and a natural way to regulating them.

“I’ve seen women struggling with symptoms of PMS, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), post-birth control syndrome (PBCS), irregular periods, acne, and breast tenderness benefit from adding seed cycling to their routine.” (Jolene Brighten, N.D. Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine) 

Although seed cycling follows a 28 day cycle, keep in mind that not all women experience a cycle this length and you can adapt the seed cycling length to fit your own cycle.

What Is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling is a gentle way to balance your hormones throughout the two phases of your menstrual cycle using the nutrients found in seeds. By boosting estrogen in the first phase and progesterone in the second phase, seed cycling can help relieve PMS, increase fertility, ease pain from conditions like ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and PCOS, and regulate irregular cycles. It can be effective for women who are menstruating, pre-menopause, postpartum, and post-menopause.

The menstrual cycle is comprised of two main phases:

THE FOLLICULAR PHASE
(Day 1-14 beginning on the first day of your period)

The Follicular Phase begins on the first day of your period. 

Estrogen levels start low at the beginning of your cycle however slowly increase in order to prepare your body for ovulation. In order to promote your body to produce estrogen in a steady and healthy way, flax seeds are an effective method as they contain phytoestrogens which adapt to the body’s estrogen needs during this phase. If you are estrogen dominant not to worry, if your estrogen gets too high, flaxseeds contain lignans which can bind to the excess estrogens which help them to be eliminated from the body. Pumpkin seeds are another great seed to incorporate during this phase because they are high in zinc which will support progesterone production in the next phase. By including these natural forms of phytoestrogens in the body your body begins to detox artificial estrogens in the body and stabilize hormonal balance in the body. 

THE LUTEAL PHASE
(Day 15-28 beginning right after ovulation)

The Luteal Phase begins on the first day of your period. 

Ancient wisdom says that the follicular phase should begin on a new moon and the luteal phase begins on the full moon, though this doesn’t always happen obviously. That’s ok, but it’s cool when it does. Here’s why: a woman’s typical cycle is 28 days, which is just about the length of a full lunar cycle. The belief is that we were made to be at peak fertility (ovulation) during the full moon when nights are brightest (so you can see your partner!) and low fertility (menstruation) at the new moon when nights are darkest.

How Does Seed Cycling Work?

The Follicular Phase 

(Day 1 -14) 

The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstruation.

Estrogen levels start low and steadily increase to prepare for ovulation. To keep estrogen levels in balance, we cycle with flax seeds that contain phytoestrogens that adapt to the body’s estrogen needs during this phase. If estrogen levels get too high, the lignans in the flaxseeds can bind to the excess so it can be eliminated from the body. We also cycle with pumpkin seeds, which are high in zinc to support progesterone production in the next phase.

CONSUME THESE DAILY DURING YOUR FOLLICULAR PHASE 

 (Day 1 -14)

  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (preferably ground but can also be eaten whole) 

This recipe is our favourite way to incorporate seeds during the follicular phase! 

Always work with a qualified practitioner before making any dietary changes or  starting to balance hormones especially when pregnant. 

The Luteal Phase 

 (Day 15 -28)

The Luteal Phase begins right after ovulation. 

This phase begins with a sudden drop in estrogen levels after ovulation occurs. Progesterone levels begin to rise which builds further maturates the uterine lining. Estrogen also rise to prepare the body for menstruation however this can cause issues to arise if estrogen levels rise too high. Estrogen dominance can lead to a number of problems such as PMS, painful periods, acne, hair loss and a number of other hormonal symptoms. Progesterone keeps estrogen and testosterone levels in balance so its important to promote progesterone production in the body in order to keep all hormones in sync.

During the luteal phase, sesame seeds are consumed daily which are high in zinc and selenium and block excess estrogen from forming in the body. Sunflower seeds are also used which are high in Vitamin E and help promote normal progesterone levels.  

CONSUME THESE DAILY DURING YOUR LUTEAL PHASE

 (Day 15 -28)

  • 1 tbsp ground sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground sunflower seeds (preferably ground but can also be eaten whole)

Always work with a qualified practitioner before making any dietary changes or  starting to balance hormones especially when pregnant. 

In ancient medicine it was said that the follicular phase should fall on a new moon and that the luteal phase would begin on the full moon.

This is interesting to think about because the typical hormonal cycle is 28 days in length, which which is the same amount as a full lunar cycle.

This was believed to be the case so that women would be at peak fertility or ovulation during the full moon which would mean it was brighter and you could see your partner! and women would reach low fertility or menstruation during the new moon when nights are darkest. Sounds like a perfectly thought out system huh?  

How to Eat: 

There are SO many amazing ways to consume these seeds during the follicular and luteal phases of your cycle! Get creative however keep in mind the best way to enjoy the benefits of these seeds are raw, organic and unadulterated. I love to keep mine in the fridge to make sure the nutrients stay active and fresher for longer! 

You can blend them in smoothies, sprinkle them on top of smoothie bowls, grind them up into seed butter, sprinkle on top of salads or grain bowls or check out this recipe for the yummiest way to incorporate seeds during the follicular phase. 

 

* A note to readers: Although seed cycling is a powerful way to naturally support your hormones and help irregular cycles please remember this is not an overnight fix. A natural approach is never a quick fix! Please be patient and always do your own research. This is not a claim to cure serious health or hormonal conditions and you should always speak to a health professional before making any changes to your diet or if you are experiencing any hormonal issues. 

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