Balancing your hormones holistically can be so overwhelming at first. There are so many things to learn about nutrition, supplements, and your cycle that a lot of people just don't know where to start. A while ago, as I was doing my own research before coming of the Pill, I heard about this thing called seed cycling. It seemed a little weird, a little too simple, yet I was reading a ton of anecdotal evidence from women who experienced really amazing results from this easy, inexpensive, and delicious technique.
Seed cycling basically involves using the specific nutrients found in certain seeds at different times during your menstrual cycle to support healthy hormone production. If you're experiencing PMS, hormonal acne, irregular cycles, headaches, food cravings (especially before your period), or fatigue, this is for you!
Let's break this down by the different phases of your cycle and get a little geeky. This sounds super woo-woo at first but it turns out there's some real nutrition behind this.
Phase 1: Follicular Phase (from the first day of your period until ovulation)
For the first half of your cycle, you use pumpkin seeds and flax seeds, both of which have really high levels of Omega 3's, which support healthy cell membranes and make sure that your hormones are getting where they need to go in your body. They also prevent excess estrogen, which is great for those of us who get acne, painful periods, or super emotional during our cycles. The follicular phase is all about estrogen as your body gets geared up to ovulate so pumpkin seeds and flax seeds really help the balance of estrogen levels and promote good absorption of estrogen.
During Phase 1, consume 1T pumpkin seeds and 1T flax seeds daily.
You can combine this with a good fish oil supplement like Nordic Naturals to really get the Omega 3's going.
Phase 2: Luteal Phase (from ovulation to your period)
The second half of your cycle is all about progesterone, as your body builds it's uterine lining to either support implantation of a fertilized egg or get ready for your period. During this phase, the Omega 6's in sesame seeds and sunflower seeds can really support the balance and absorption of progesterone in your body. Sesame seeds help block excess estrogen and sunflower seeds are packed with selenium that helps your liver to detoxify, which is REALLY helpful in helping your period to be less painful and less heavy.
During Phase 2, consume 1T sesame seeds and 1T sunflower seeds daily.
Some people combine this with an Evening Primose Oil Omega 6 supplement, which again helps with menstrual pain, but again this is optional.
Balancing your hormones doesn't happen overnight, and it usually takes about 3 months of consistent seed cycling to begin to see a significant difference, but many people see improvement within their first cycle. I seed cycled for the first 4 months coming off the Pill and it really helped to bring back my cycles, regulate my cycles, and make my temperatures more consistent.
- Use Organic, Raw seeds: These will have the maximum amount of nutrients. Roasting seeds significantly lowers the nutritional value and will be way less effective.
- Grind your seeds: This makes the seeds more easily digestible and therefore more readily bioavailable to your system to again, maximize the nutritional value. You can use a coffee grinder or your blender if you have a flat grinding blade. Some people soak their seeds the night beforehand also but I think this is optional.
- Get creative! Put your seeds into your morning oatmeal/cereal, your smoothie, over salads, anything! They're pretty yummy and don't have a strong enough taste to really overtake anything you put them in/on.
- If you're already cycling, start the seed cycling with your current cycle. If you have super irregular cycles or missing periods, I recommend seed cycling with the lunar chart. This will reinforce the natural cycle and really help your body to re-harmonize itself.
- For men: I've heard that seed cycling can support healthy hormonal balance in men as well. I haven't read any personal experiences from men who've tried this, but from what I've read you can seed cycle OPPOSITE of women, with the lunar cycle. So men would use sesame and sunflower seeds from the new moon to the full moon and then pumpkin and flax seeds from the full moon to the next new moon.