Seed Cycling to Regulate Hormones
Did you know that suffering from PMS symptoms is a sign that your hormones are out of whack?
Many girls grow up thinking that irregular periods are normal and can be “fixed” with birth control pills. I hate to tell you, that’s not the case. What birth control pills do is cover up the symptoms, but they don’t treat what’s causing them. The fact remains — you already have an issue causing this inconsistency to occur. When it's time to get off the pill to start a family many women realize they have significant hormonal imbalances that have been masked for years and consequently suffer from infertility issues.
Imbalances like irregular periods, PMS, PCOS, hypo & hyperthyroidism, breast tenderness, infertility, and heavy bleeding can be remedied by changing your diet. In truth, what you eat affects your hormones.
While there are many dietary changes one can make to fix their hormone imbalances, seed cycling is quickly growing in popularity due to the simple to follow protocol that has proven results for many women.
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is a technique that helps your body rebalance hormone levels. The key is to ingest certain seeds during the different phases of your cycle. It may sound a little woo-woo to some, but many people are raving about the benefits they've received from trying it. Why don't you have a go?
How Does It Work?
Estrogen and progesterone are the key hormones that regulate a woman's menstrual cycle. Seeds contain phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen) that affect the body's estrogen levels by balancing where needed. In the event of excess estrogen, the lignans in the seeds bind to estrogen receptors to stop absorption. Estrogen is directly responsible for the release of both LH (luteinizing hormone) & FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) while progesterone helps keep estrogen levels balanced and is responsible for enhancing the endometrium and facilitating egg implantation.
During the first half of a woman's cycle (known as the follicular phase), estrogen levels start low and begin to rise. When estrogen is low, the body releases FSH. When estrogen increases LH levels increase. It's a true balancing act which primes the body for ovulation.
In the second half of the cycle (the luteal phase) estrogen declines, causing FSH and LH to fall as well. Meanwhile, progesterone levels increase. If estrogen levels are too high, it can trigger symptoms of PMS. This phase should last a minimum ten days. If any shorter, then it's a clear indication of low progesterone which can cause fertility issues. The omega 6 fatty acids in seeds can support progesterone levels and reduce inflammation related to PMS.
In short, there's a fine line between the balance of estrogen and progesterone which can cause hormonal imbalances. Other things like stress, endocrine disruptors (found in air fresheners, plastics, and personal care products), and poor diet, can also disrupt the balance.
How to Practice Seed Cycling
If you have a regular menstrual cycle seed cycling should be done according to it.
The follicular phase (days 1 to 14) starts the first day of your period and runs until ovulation begins (1). During this time, you should incorporate one tablespoon each of flax and pumpkin seeds daily. Your cycle is primarily running on estrogen at this point, instead of progesterone.
The luteal phase starts on the first day of ovulation (days 15 to 28). Ingest one tablespoon each of sesame seeds and sunflower seeds daily. This is when progesterone levels need to rise for ovulation to occur.
For women who have abnormal cycles or are pre/post-menopausal, moon cycling is recommended. Even men have been known to benefit from hormonal support and can practice cycling by the moon. Simply start phase I of the protocol on the new moon. Begin phase II 14 days later, when the moon is full.
Tips & Tricks
Grind seeds fresh using a coffee grinder, so they are readily absorbable in the body. Flax seeds, for instance, will make it through your system whole meaning they will not be digested or absorbed unless ground beforehand (2).
When grinding, use within two days before oxidation sets in from air and light.
Store ground seeds in an airtight container and keep refrigerated
Use organic, raw, unhulled, and ground seeds
Black sesame seeds must be used since they are still in their hulls where the lignans are found.
Practice seed cycling for no less than three cycles as it may take this long notice changes.
Enjoy the ground seeds on top of salads, in smoothies, soups or sprinkled on grains.
WARNING — For those who have digestive issues, soaking seeds before eating them rids them of phytic acid which can cause digestive problems and can impair absorption (3).