Using Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance
Katie Noble, SPCNM Graduate Practitioner 2019
Getting a period doesn’t have to be a debilitating and uncomfortable experience, yet for a lot of women it is. Periods can become problematic at any age and for many reasons. It is always vital to explore why your periods are irregular or painful by seeing a Naturopath and also ensuring that there is nothing driving the changes that needs medical attention especially with heavy, clotty or very painful periods.
A friend from college mentioned seed cycling as a natural way to help balance hormones. I’ve been looking into it more as I want to make sure my own cycle is as pleasant as possible as well as being able to offer a food as medicine option to my clients.
The concept is simple. Periods have two distinct cycle phases that support ovulation and prepare the body for conception over the 28 days (give or take 4-5 days depending on the individual) and you use seeds as a way to optimise these phases.
Follicular Phase – Days 1-14
During this stage the follicles are in a growth phase, as oestrogen levels rise stimulating the uterine lining in preparation for impregnation. Oestrogen changes the vaginal environment creating a fertile egg-white mucous during the ovulation period providing a means of transport for sperm to the fallopian tubes. This mucous is also very nutritious and keeps gives them sustenance for the journey. Oestrogen peaks around day 14 which triggers release of lutenising hormone and ovulation occurs as the egg is released from the follicle.
Luteal Phase – Days 15-28
After the release of the egg, progesterone is produced from the now empty follicle to create the ideal uterine environment for implantation of a fertilized egg. The presence of progesterone causes the oestrogen levels to drop which dries up the cervical mucous.
What happens when there is a hormonal imbalance?
High oestrogen can cause tender breasts, mood swings, hair loss, weight gain, fibroids, endometriosis, and cysts (breast and ovarian). Symptoms of low progesterone are similar to those of high estrogen but can cause anxiety, difficulty sleeping and menstrual headaches. It is commonly a cause of infertility and miscarriages.
What effects this delicate balance?
- Environmental toxins
- Poor diet
- Food sensitivities
- Digestive issues
- High coffee or alcohol consumption
How does seed cycling work?
Taking specific seeds provides the vitamins, minerals and oils needed for the production, release and metabolism of hormones. Although supporting oestrogen production sounds counter-intuitive considering the effects of high oestrogen, it’s about supporting the right kind of oestrogen production and its clearance out of the body.
What to do
In the follicular phase (Day 1-14) add into your diet daily:
ONE tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed AND
ONE tablespoon of pumpkin seed
In the luteal Phase (15-next menstrual period) add into your diet daily:
ONE tablespoon of sesame seeds AND
ONE tablespoon of sunflower seeds
These can be sprinkled on salads or meals or put into smoothies. It’s really important to buy good quality seeds and store them in the fridge to prevent rancidity. A good idea is to make bliss balls using the combination of seeds and store them in the freezer to grab in the morning and take to work or snack on during the day.
Emily Morrow has a great recipe https://www.theemilymorrow.com/blog/seed-cycling-snack-balls-to-balance-hormones-naturally
For perimenopausal or menopausal women you can start the rotation on any day and do two weekly rotations of the seeds.
For women with no periods: start the flaxseed/pumpkin rotation on the new moon as this is when you would usually have your period, or begin the sesame/sunflower on the full moon: a typical ovulation time.
Magdalena Wszelaki has all the information you need and a downloadable guide at her Hormone Balance site with recipes and moon cycles https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/how-to-use-seed-rotation-to-rebalance-your-menstrual-cycle/
Hechtman, L. (2012). Clinical naturopathic medicine. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone: Elsevier
Hormones Balance. (2019). How to use seed rotation to rebalance your hormones. Retrieved from https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/how-to-use-seed-rotation-to-rebalance-your-menstrual-cycle/
Morrow, E. (2018). Seed cycling balls to balance hormones naturally. Retrieved from https://www.theemilymorrow.com/blog/seed-cycling-snack-balls-to-balance-hormones-naturally
Tricky, R. (2011). Women, hormones & the menstrual cycle. Melbourne, Australia: Author