Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance
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Seed cycling for hormonal balance: is it really a thing? Learn how it works!
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling is a natural way to regulate hormones by eating specific seeds throughout your menstrual cycle.
Flax, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds support hormones during the two-cycle phases and help to keep a healthy balance between estrogen and progesterone.
Seed cycling can be beneficial to treat PMS, irregular cycles as well as pain related to endometriosis and PCOS.
Seed cycling for hormonal balance: Is it effective?
Even though it is becoming very popular nowadays, seed cycling is not a new find. Considered as alternative medicine, herbalists, naturopaths, and acupuncturists have been recommending seeds to treat hormones related problems for decades.
Unfortunately, not a lot of studies have been made in order to prove seed cycling’s benefits, risks (if there are any), or efficiency.
However, a lot of women have been sharing positive experiences about it.
Because even though there is no scientific proof when it comes to seed cycling, researches have been conducted to find how each seed can benefit the male’s AND female’s reproductive system.
The results are pretty interesting.
A study published in 1993 tested the effects of flaxseeds on women following a western diet.
Results showed that supplementing the participants with flaxseed had positive impacts such as less anovulatory cycles (cycles without ovulation) and longer luteal phases. (1).
Therefore, flaxseeds can be beneficial for fertility and reproductive health.
In 2015, a study found positive benefits of zinc on dysmenorrhea (2). Since pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, they could be very effective to treat menstrual pain.
This statement supports the overall findings since dysmenorrhea and breast cancer have been linked to excess estrogen (5).
A study found out the importance of vitamin E in women’s reproductive health and its positive impact on fertility (6).
Moreover, consuming foods rich in vitamin E could be linked to reduced PMS (7).
Since sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, they can have a positive impact on fertility and menstrual cycle.
Finally, all these seeds contain lignans which help control hormone levels.
This means that they not only promote hormone production whenever there aren’t enough but also help eliminate excess hormones when there are too many of them (whether it is estrogens or progesterone).
Isn’t that magic?
bHow does seed cycling work?
Seed cycling is based on the two phases of the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
1- Follicular phase (Day 1 to ~14)
The follicular phase starts on the first day of your period and ends on the ovulation day. This phase is characterized by a rise in estrogen levels to prep the body for ovulation.
During this period, the focus is on flax and pumpkin seeds.
When flaxseeds help to prevent the overproduction of estrogens (lignans’ role), pumpkin seeds support progesterone production (zinc’s job) to prepare the body for the second phase.
To eat every day:
2- Luteal phase (~ Day 15 to 28)
The luteal phase starts just after ovulation and finishes the last day of the cycle (the day before your period starts). This phase is characterized by a rise in progesterone, which is in charge of forming the uterine lining.
During this period, estrogens should remain pretty low. If not, that’s when you will experience PMS (bloating, cramps, etc.).
The luteal phase focuses on sesame and sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds will prevent overproduction of estrogens (selenium’s role) and sunflower seeds will support progesterone’s production (vitamin E).
To eat every day:
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How to know your ovulation day
The day you ovulate is not the same for everyone, and might also vary from cycle to cycle. Ovulation is generally in the middle of your cycle, so approximately at day 14 (the first day being the day your period starts).
If you want to learn how to know the exact day you’re ovulating, I recommend you check out the fertility awareness method which is partly based on your basal temperature.
I share the basics in this article.
You could also use fertility tracking apps such as Flo or Clue. But please keep in mind that even if they estimate your ovulation and periods to come, these are only estimations.
Do NOT use these apps to monitor your fertility and take decisions based on pretty much nothing.
Even though there’s nothing complicated in eating seeds, there are some points you should take into consideration:
- Seeds should be eaten ground. If you don’t, your body might not completely break them down during digestion and you might not get all their benefits
- Seeds should be eaten raw. The act of cooking them will most likely ruin their healthy fats
- In the same way, seeds should be kept away from light, in a dark and fresh place: your refrigerator for example!
- Seed cycling doesn’t act as a magic pill or remedy, you will have to wait 3-4 months to see some results
Also, some people eat the two tablespoons on themselves, but you don’t have to! I sprinkle seeds on pretty much every meal: my salads, oatmeal, smoothies, curries, and dahls. I also have a Hormone Balancing Energy Bites recipe that especially follows the seed cycling method!
You might also like my Smoothie for hormonal health
If you’re not new on the blog, you probably already know that I’m obsessed with natural remedies and curing yourself with food.
I actually balanced my hormones and cured my acne without taking any type of medicine, so why not give seed cycling a try if you’re struggling with unbalanced hormones?
Even though I didn’t test this method myself (but I include a lot of seeds in my diet), I would highly recommend it.
Seeds can not only potentially help your hormones find a healthy balance but they are also so nutritious and good for your overall health (they’re high in omega 3s, vitamins, and antioxidants).
Moreover, unless you are allergic to them, you won’t have to deal with any kind of side effects!
I would love to know your experience with seed cycling for hormonal balance. If you tried it, please let me know in the comments below!