Seed Cycling for Balanced Hormones
Want balanced hormones? Ready for something a little woo-woo? Seed cycling. It’s a gentle and effective naturopathic practice that can help balance hormones using nutrients. It supports your hormones using specific seeds during different phases of the menstrual cycle. More and more women (and men) are struggling to keep balanced hormones and experience many painful symptoms. These include PMS, infertility, PCOS, fibroids, heavy periods, breast tenderness, endometriosis and the unavoidable (peri-)menopause.
The Power of Seed Cycling
If you’re a menstruating woman, your body’s two key female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, undergo monthly fluctuations. On Day 1 (the first day of your period), oestrogen levels are low. They then steadily rise to a peak around the middle of the month, coinciding with ovulation. Progesterone then begins to rise. If fertilisation doesn’t occur, both hormone levels decrease, ready for the cycle to start once again.
It’s crucial to maintain balanced hormones during each cycle stage. However, oestrogen often surges due to a combination of factors including environmental pollution, plastics, stress and poor digestive function. When oestrogen is raised, progesterone will lower as the two hormones are closely linked.
Seed cycling aims to balance oestrogen in the first half of the month and progesterone in the second half.
Alleviating Menopausal Symptoms
Seed cycling may offer relief from common menopausal symptoms:
- Hot Flashes: By potentially balancing hormones, seed cycling could help reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
- Mood Swings: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings, and seed cycling’s hormone-balancing effects may alleviate these emotional fluctuations.
- Sleep Disturbances: Improved balance hormones might contribute to better sleep quality during menopause and peri-menopause.
If you are past menopause, balancing your hormones with seed cycling may help reduce hot flushes, mood swings and night sweats. Often, at this stage of life oestrogen will fluctuate, or both oestrogen and progesterone will bottom out.
You won’t be having periods, so instead use the phases of the moon as your guide. Using the new moon as day one, initially use the flax and pumpkin seed mix, then switch to sesame and sunflower seeds at the time of the full moon. New mothers who aren’t yet menstruating again should use this technique.
You can also use this method if your cycle is very irregular, varying in length from month to month, making it difficult to judge when is halfway. You might find as your hormones become more balanced, your cycle regulates itself.
Men can benefit from seed cycling too. Many men suffer from excess oestrogen, leading to symptoms like fatty breast tissue, low libido, poor fertility, erectile dysfunction and reduced muscle mass.
Men should follow the instructions for menstruating women given above, in other words, eat flax and pumpkin seeds for the first two weeks, followed by sesame and sunflower mix.
Meet the Seeds
Flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds: During the first half of the menstrual cycle (days 1-14 / follicular phase) may help balance oestrogen levels by promoting its safe metabolism and elimination. Flax seeds are rich in lignans, which are phytoestrogens. These function as hormone balancers, increasing your body’s oestrogen level if it’s too low and decreasing it if it’s too high.
Eating flax seeds has been linked with fewer irregular cycles in menstruating women (1). It’s also been seen to reduce menopausal symptoms and increase the quality of life (2) in post-menopausal women. Pumpkin seeds contain nutrients such as zinc and omega-3 fats to help regulate hormone balance.
Sesame and Sunflower Seeds: In the second half of the cycle (days 15-18 / luteal phase), pumpkin and sunflower seeds are incorporated. These seeds contain zinc and vitamin E, which may support progesterone production and hormonal balance.
Sesame seeds contain lignans, too, as well as nutrients involved in boosting progesterone levels. Finally, sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, necessary for hormone balance.
How to Cycle Your Seeds
Seed cycling is a straightforward practice that involves two phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
Follicular Phase (Days 1-14)
During the first half of your menstrual cycle or the first 14 days of your cycle:
Flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds: Consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds daily. These can be added to smoothies, yogurt, porridge, energy balls, or sprinkled on salads.
Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)
In the second half of your cycle or the days 15 to 28:
Sesame and Sunflower Seeds: Shift your focus to 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground pumpkin and sunflower seeds daily.
You might naturally have a shorter or longer cycle than the 28-day average and if this is the case, don’t worry. If you are aware of when you ovulate, switch seeds on ovulation day. If you don’t know when you ovulate, simply switch seeds midway through your normal cycle. If you don’t already track your period, I suggest you start now! Try the Clue app – it’s free.
Benefits of Seed Cycling from a Functional Medicine Perspective
Functional medicine recognizes the potential advantages of seed cycling for women during menopause and perimenopause.
- Balanced Hormones: Seed cycling may help regulate hormone levels, reducing the severity of hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause.
- Symptom Relief: By supporting balanced hormones, seed cycling might alleviate common symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances.
- Natural Approach: Seed cycling offers a natural and holistic approach to hormonal balance, which aligns with functional medicine principles.
- Nutrient-Rich: Seeds used in the practice are packed with essential nutrients like lignans, zinc, and vitamin E, which can contribute to overall well-being.
- Personalized: Seed cycling can be tailored to an individual’s unique menstrual cycle, making it adaptable and potentially more effective.
- Consistency: For seed cycling to be effective, consistency is key. Incorporate seeds into your daily routine throughout the appropriate phases of your menstrual cycle.
- Patience: Hormonal changes take time to balance, so don’t expect immediate results. Give seed cycling a few menstrual cycles to observe its effects.
- Consultation: If you have underlying health conditions or concerns, consult with a healthcare professional before starting seed cycling to ensure it’s appropriate for you.
Seed cycling is a promising practice in functional medicine that offers a natural and holistic approach to supporting balance hormones during menopause and peri-menopause. By incorporating specific seeds into your diet during the follicular and luteal phases of your menstrual cycle, you may experience relief from common symptoms and an improved sense of well-being.
As with any natural approach to health, it’s essential to be consistent, patient, and, when necessary, seek guidance from healthcare professionals. Embrace the potential benefits of seed cycling as part of your journey towards a more comfortable and balanced experience during menopause and perimenopause.
Ps. Have Some Seed Tips!
Grind your (raw, organic if possible) seeds and store in the fridge, especially flax seeds.
Use fresh unsalted and unroasted seeds, and you’re best off keeping them in sealed containers in the fridge. Grind them in a coffee grinder or food processor shortly before you need them to help conserve their delicate nutrients. Ground seeds are delicious with yoghurt, on cereal, in juice or smoothies or sprinkled on salads.
PPS Need More Help With Hormone Balance?
Hormone balance is incredibly complex and are often a result of various issues all mixed together… e.g. digestive issues, blood sugar imbalances, stress, a lack of dietary fat and protein, lack of sleep, and environmental toxins. Please don’t expect seed cycling to fix all of this!
If you would like balanced hormones, then please get in touch, I would love to help you! I work with many women like you in my clinic so please don’t feel you’re alone. If you’d like better hormone balance, contact me here.