By Madeline Martins, RHN
Today, women may expect their bodies to work like dependable, predictable machines instead of honouring the natural rhythms of our monthly hormonal cycles. We can decide to fight these natural rhythms or become aware of and work with them. By working with these hormonal rhythms, we can be in better touch with our bodies and take an active role in our health. One way we can support hormonal balance every day is with seed cycling.
Seed cycling uses different seeds at specific times during a woman’s monthly cycle to support optimal hormone balance. Seeds carry certain oils, vitamins and nutrients that can help support the body’s production, release and metabolism of hormones.
Four seeds are used in seed cycling. The seeds used in Phase 1 are flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Phase 1 starts on the first day of your menstrual cycle and goes to Day 14 (ovulation). Take one tablespoon of flax seeds and one tablespoon of pumpkin seed every day during the first phase of the cycle. To release the flax seeds’ vitamins, minerals and oils, grind them before consuming them. Thoroughly chew the pumpkin seeds to unlock their nutrients.
In Phase 2 of your cycle – which extends from Day 15 to your next menstrual cycle – focus on sunflower and sesame seeds. Consume one tablespoon of sunflower seeds and one tablespoon of sesame seeds every day.
Phase 1 of seed cycling
Advocates of seed cycling say that the lignans in flax seeds and pumpkin seeds can help the body bind excess estrogen, supporting its release. Lignans are a chemical structure in flax seeds and pumpkin seeds that acts as a phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body by binding to estrogen receptor sites. They do not bind to estrogen receptors as firmly as the estrogen produced by your body, so the effects of phytoestrogens may be weaker than the effects of your natural estrogen.
Why are phytoestrogens important?
In today’s world, women are exposed to three types of estrogens: phytoestrogens (from plants), biological estrogen (produced by our bodies) and xenoestrogens (found in sources such as pesticide residue, personal care products and plastic-wrapped food). Xenoestrogens act as very strong estrogens in the body and can lead to a hormonal imbalance known as estrogen dominance. They are so prevalent in daily life that they are almost impossible to avoid. Consuming phytoestrogens that have a low estrogenic effect, such as flax seeds will help balance out the strong estrogen effect caused by xenoestrogens.
Phase 2 of seed cycling
In Phase 2, the focus is on sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have shown that adding omega-6 and vitamin E to the diet may help balance hormones and alleviate PMS symptoms. Sesame and sunflower seeds are both rich in omega-6 fatty acids, and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E.
These seeds were also chosen because studies suggest that they may support healthy progesterone levels, which are essential in the second phase of your menstrual cycle. Symptoms of PMS are often associated with low progesterone levels.
Supporting hormonal balance naturally
There are many ways to support a healthy hormonal balance through dietary and lifestyle changes. Seed cycling is just one example of a nutritional approach that supports this balance.
If you are struggling with a hormone-related problem, Click or tap here to sign up for a free, 15-minute discovery call to see if one-on-one counselling with a holistic nutritionist can help you.