An irregular menstrual cycle, no cycle or premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are common but abnormal symptoms experienced by females of menstruating age. Here at The Natural Nutritionist (TNN) we use seed cycling as a natural technique to stimulate and balance the sex hormones required for menstruation, through consumption of different types of seeds throughout the month. Seed cycling is effective for improving symptoms, however as previously discussed in Go That Extra Mile For Your Hormones working with a practitioner is beneficial for understanding the underlying causes of your hormone imbalance.
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling is an effective method that can be used to naturally balance female hormones and support key sex hormones throughout the different phases of the menstrual cycle. Seed cycling can boost estrogen levels in the first phase of the cycle and progesterone levels in the second phase, when an irregular cycle, no cycle (amenorrhea, menopause, postpartum) and PMS occur as a result of a hormone imbalance. The sex hormone, estrogen is responsible for encouraging the uterine lining (endometrium) to plump up in preparation for possible implantation. Whereas, progesterone is responsible forincreasing libido around ovulation, maintaining the uterine lining and ultimately, to support a developing embryo.
What does a regular menstruation cycle look like?
A regular menstrual cycle lasts for approximately 28 days and has two main phases. The follicular phase occurs between days one and 14 of your cycle, with day one being the first day of bleeding. This phase is dominated by our sex hormone estrogen, where levels start low and increase until a rapid drop at day 14, when ovulation commences. Progesterone levels remain low during this phase.
The luteal phase occurs on days 15-28, where the hormone progesterone is more prevalent, however estrogen levels simultaneously increase until day 21, before gradually declining. High estrogen levels in the luteal phase are responsible for PMS symptoms, thus it is important to modulate progesterone to ensure estrogen remains a suitable level. Progesterone is also responsible for unwanted PMS symptoms such as bloating, change in mood and insomnia.
Seed cycling guidelines
During the follicular phase: consume one tablespoon of ground flaxseed and one tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, daily, to support estrogen levels.
During the luteal phase: consume one tablespoon of sesame seeds and one tablespoon of sunflower seeds, daily, to support progesterone levels.
It’s important to acknowledge that hormone imbalance takes plays over a period of time, so seed cycling should be practiced for at least 3-6 cycles. Being patient and consistent, along with a dose of self-love, can go a long way here.
Why do we cycle with different types of seeds?
Flaxseeds high in omega 3, which reduce inflammation experienced in the body during your period. They contain phytoestrogens (a plant-based source of estrogen) responsible for increasing estrogen levels in the body, as well as eliminating excess estrogen. Pumpkin seeds are also high in omega 3 and contain zinc. The zinc is responsible for supporting progesterone production for the luteal phase. Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E as well as ligans to support progesterone levels and selenium for detoxification of hormones in the liver. Sesame seeds also contain lignans that modulate estrogen and progesterone levels, to ensure excess estrogen isn’t produced. Isn’t nature wonderful?
How can I commence seed cycling if I don’t have a period or my cycle is irregular?
You can use the 28-day lunar cycle to get started if you don’t have a regular cycle. The time between the new moon and full moon is the equivalent of the follicular phase, where flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are to be consumed. The arrival of a full moon initiates a transition into the luteal phase, which lasts until the new moon again. This is where you start the daily consumption of sesame and sunflower seeds.
Three tips before you get started with seed cycling:
- Use raw, unroasted and unsalted to ensure maximum nutritional properties.
- Consume ground flaxseed and sesame seeds rather than whole seeds, to enhance nutrient absorption. Try using a coffee grinder or throw them into your smoothie.
- You can easily add the seeds into your daily routine by incorporating them into easy bliss ball, smoothie, homemade granola and salad recipes.
If you’re simply not feeling quite right or believe you have a hormone imbalance, please don’t feel like you have to work it out by yourself. We can support your health journey, assist hormone testing and subsequent seed cycling. Please book in for a complimentary 15-minute consultation with one of the TNN team.
Wu WH et al., 2006. Sesame Ingestion Affects Sex Hormones, Antioxidant Status, and Blood Lipids in Postmenopausal Women. The Journal of Nutrition. 136, 5, 1270–1275.
Priyanka K et al., 2015. Flaxseed – a potential functional food source. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 52, 4, 1857-71.
Thiyagarajan DK et al., 2019. Physiology, Menstrual Cycle. StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL).