Have you heard of seed cycling?
Seed cycling involves consuming certain seeds such as flax, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame during certain phases of the menstrual cycle. These seeds contain healthy fats and vital nutrients to help support the production and metabolism of our hormones. The key is to grind up the seeds to release their nutrients for easier absorption because our gastrointestinal tract is not able to breakdown the outer layer.
Benefits of the seeds:
Pumpkin: Supports estrogen production and metabolism. Also contains zinc which may inhibit excess testosterone in those with PCOS.
Flax: Contains fiber to bind and get rid of excess estrogens and lignans which are antioxidants that have a weak estrogenic effect. They also lower risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, as well as improve the health of our bones.
Sunflower: Support progesterone and helps metabolize estrogen. Contains Vitamin E which maintains estrogen and B Vitamins (B1,3,6, and 9). B6 regulates progesterone and estrogen reducing risk of breast cancer.
Sesame: Helps metabolize estrogen and supports progesterone production as well. Contains Zinc, Magnesium, and Selenium. Zinc stimulates production of progesterone. Selenium helps to metabolize the hormones through the liver. Magnesium is also great for menstrual cramps.
Seed cycling is meant to follow a regular 28 day cycle, with ovulation occurring on day 14. Whether you have regular, irregular or no periods, anyone can still follow this cycle. The first phase starts with day 1 of your menses to day 14 when ovulation occurs, which is called the Follicular Phase. Estrogen is higher during this phase and if it is too high it can cause irregular menses, swelling/tender breasts, PMS, decreased libido, weight gain, and mood changes. If estrogen is low, it causes irregular menses, depression, infertility, and increase risk of osteoporosis.
The second phase is day 15-28 when estrogen decreases and progesterone increases to prepare the body for pregnancy. This is called the Luteal Phase. High progesterone levels cause PMS symptoms such as bloating, weight gain, fatigue, headaches, breast tenderness, and mood swings. If progesterone is low, it causes PMS symptoms, infertility, anxiety, insomnia, migraines/headaches, and thyroid disorders.
How to Seed Cycle:
Days 1-14: Take 1 tbsp each of freshly ground flax and pumpkins seed daily.
Days 15-28: Take 1 tbsp each of freshly ground sunflower and sesame seeds daily.
I recommend do this for at least 2-3 months because it may take up to 3 months to see improvement in your symptoms. Once your symptoms improve, continue cycling for another 2-3 months to support your hormones.
Feel free to get creative! Make some energy balls, blend into smoothies, add on top of yogurt, or enjoy with salads. You could also make it into a seed butter by blending the ground up seeds with a little nut milk and enjoy on gluten free bread (check out Simple Kneads) with fresh fruit. I also love mixing the seeds with either my morning oatmeal or protein shakes. Also check out Minimalist Baker‘s blog for different ways to use the seeds.
Be sure to choose seeds that are raw, organic, not roasted or salted. Use a coffee grinder, like KitchenAid, to break down the outer shell of the seeds for the best absorption of the nutrients. If you’ve tried seed cycling I’d love to hear your feedback, leave a comment below!
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