There’s been a lot of discussion lately surrounding negative effects of long-term synthetic hormones for our health and well-being. For those who love natural, organic solutions for their periods, seed cycling is one of many ways to balance your hormones without the use of artificial additives.
Whether you’re menstruating regularly, or not, you could benefit from seed cycling.
What the heck is seed cycling?
Simply put, seed cycling involves eating specific seeds during the different parts of your monthly cycle, according to Kristin Dahl, holistic nutritionist and founder of The Women’s Wellness Collective. In an article published originally in The Chalkboard Mag, seed cycling is an old, naturopathic therapy that uses food as a medicine to balance the hormonal phases of a woman’s natural cycle. Certain seeds are chosen for their ability to support our body’s production, detoxification and metabolism of hormones and gently urge our cycle to realign. It’s also a refreshing counter remedy to the mixed bag of artificial hormones and synthetic therapies widely pushed.
What does eating seeds actually fix?
Firstly, this is NOT a natural method of birth control! Seed cycling benefits women who experience heavy periods, irregular periods or no periods, and all the host of side effects that come with unbalanced estrogen levels.
Try seed cycling if you suffer from PMS symptoms such as bloating, cramps, mood swings, headaches or low energy. If you’re going through menopause, it can alleviate hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Dr. Marwa Azab explains that when your hormones are balanced, your body isn’t overcorrecting and releasing more of the wrong thing at the wrong time, which can lead to “fatigue, mood instability, weight gain, foggy brain, memory loss, adult acne, hair loss/facial hair, lower sex drive and extreme PMS.”
To properly rotate seeds, you first need to track your menstrual cycle to begin seed cycling on day one. If your cycle is irregular or missing in action, you can use the new moon’s cycle as a way of bringing it back in line. Like women, the moon rotates through a 28 day cycle, making it a symbol for women’s fertility in most major mythologies.
During the first phase of your cycle, which is known as the follicular phase, Dahl notes your estrogen levels start low, but increase over time in order to prepare for ovulation. Seed rotation is used to help boost your estrogen levels during this part of your cycle, although there’s a fine line between too much and too little. Eat one tablespoon each of ground up flax and pumpkin seeds every day until you ovulate – day 14 – to help your body detox any excess estrogen. Flax seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids and lignans, which help your body stop excess estrogen. Pumpkin seeds are high in Omega 6 fatty acids and zinc which help boost fertility and healthy immune functions. Together, they’ll also prep your body for the second half of its cycle.
During the second 14 days, known as the luteal phase, your body will need to rid itself of estrogen and promote higher levels of progesterone responsible for ensuring healthy uterine lining and making sure those eggs stick. Your luteal phase comes on due to the sudden drop of estrogen and increase in progesterone. But here’s the kicker: your estrogen levels will try to rise again during this phase. If they get too high, this is what PMS. Your progesterone should keep your estrogen in check to maintain healthy fertility levels, but sometimes your body needs a helping hand, hence the seed cycling.
For this phase, switch to eating one tablespoon each of ground sesame and sunflower seeds. This will promote healthy progesterone production. Sesame seeds are also high in Omega 6 fatty acids as well as Vitamin E, which boosts your fertility. Sunflower seeds are high in Omega 3s and lignans, again to reduce estrogen and allows your progesterone levels to balance out.
Albeit annoying, the seeds need to be ground. Flax and sesame seeds are too small to be broken down by our teeth. Technically pumpkin and sunflower seeds can be consumed whole, but the results are better if they’re ground down. Plus, if you’re dedicating the time to grind the other seeds, you might as well. As long as the seeds are raw, not baked.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds, you can add ground up seeds to smoothies, salads and oats in order to make sure you’re eating the recommended amounts. Or try baking them into protein balls or into bread.
There isn’t a “right way” to balance out our hormones. That much should be blatantly clear after years of birth control. Everyone is different. While synthetic hormones can be incredibly helpful in certain circumstances, it’s a game of Russian roulette in terms of side effects.
And it should be acknowledged that health issues like endometriosis or PCOS cannot be cured by this method. While seed rotation can help relieve symptoms, it’s still best to consult your GP. The biggest positive we can see here, is even if it doesn’t work, there’s not going to be any ill-effects.
That’s because seed cycling is a gentle, non-invasive therapy with no artificial additives or synthetic hormones. If considering this method, you may get an upset stomach.
If you decide to try seed cycling, do some research yourself as well. It could take up to a couple of cycles for you to notice the difference. Keep a journal and track both your cycle and your symptoms to see if you notice a difference.
On that note, happy cycling.
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Originally published in Loose Lips