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There’s a real buzz about seed cycling. It’s all about balancing hormones using the natural nutrients found in seeds. Read on to discover how you can benefit from seed cycling.
Seed cycling is a naturopathic technique aiming to regulate hormones using food. It involves eating various seeds at different times of the month.
Hormones are chemical messengers controlling your body’s processes. They tell your body what to do and when to do it. Unbalanced hormones are incredibly common, contributing to PMS, infertility, PCOS, fibroids, heavy periods, breast tenderness, endometriosis and more.
If you are a woman of menstruating age, your two female hormones oestrogen and progesterone will fluctuate according to a monthly pattern. At the beginning of your cycle, oestrogen is low. It then climbs to a peak midway through the month, when ovulation occurs. Progesterone then begins to rise. Finally, the levels of both hormones fall if fertilisation doesn’t occur, ready for the cycle to start all over again.
The two hormones should be in balance at each stage of your cycle, but often oestrogen climbs too high. This is down to a combination of factors like environmental pollution, plastics, stress and poor digestive function. When oestrogen is raised, progesterone will nosedive, as the two hormones are closely linked.
Seed cycling aims to balance oestrogen in the first half of the month and progesterone in the second half.
The seeds you’ll need are flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
Flax seeds contain substances known as lignans. These function as hormone balancers, increasing your body’s oestrogen level if it’s too low and decreasing it if it’s too high. Eating flax seeds has been linked with fewer irregular cycles in menstruating women 1. It’s also been seen to reduce menopausal symptoms and increase the quality of life 2 in post-menopausal women.
Pumpkin seeds contain nutrients such as zinc and omega-3 fats to help regulate hormone balance. Sesame seeds contain lignans, too, as well as nutrients involved in boosting progesterone levels. Finally, sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, necessary for hormone balance.
Of course, seeds contain all sorts of other useful nutrients as well, so consuming seeds will have additional benefits too.
Use fresh unsalted and unroasted seeds, and you’re best off keeping them in sealed containers in the fridge. Grind them in a coffee grinder or food processor shortly before you need them to help conserve their delicate nutrients. Ground seeds are delicious with yoghurt, on cereal, in juice or smoothies or sprinkled on salads.
During the first 14 days of your cycle, counting the first day of your period as day one, consume one tablespoon each of freshly ground flax and pumpkin seeds.
In the second half of your cycle from day 15 onwards, until the first day of your next period, eat one tablespoon each of freshly ground sunflower and sesame seeds. Then start all over again.
You might naturally have a shorter or longer cycle than the 28-day average and if this is the case, don’t worry. If you are aware of when you ovulate, switch seeds on ovulation day. If you don’t know when you ovulate, simply switch seeds midway through your normal cycle.
If you are past menopause, balancing your hormones with seed cycling may help reduce hot flushes, mood swings and night sweats. Often, at this stage of life oestrogen will fluctuate, or both oestrogen and progesterone will bottom out.
You won’t be having periods, so instead use the phases of the moon as your guide. Using the new moon as day one, initially use the flax and pumpkin seed mix, then switch to sesame and sunflower seeds at the time of the full moon. New mothers who aren’t yet menstruating again should use this technique.
You can also use this method if your cycle is very irregular, varying in length from month to month, making it difficult to judge when is halfway. You might find as your hormones become more balanced, your cycle regulates itself.
Men can benefit from seed cycling too. Many men suffer from excess oestrogen, leading to symptoms like fatty breast tissue, low libido, poor fertility, erectile dysfunction and reduced muscle mass.
Men should follow the instructions for menstruating women given above, in other words, eat flax and pumpkin seeds for the first two weeks, followed by sesame and sunflower mix.
Functional tests can be incredibly useful to reveal whether your hormones are out of balance. These, combined with an in-depth consultation, health history analysis and dietary evaluation will enable your practitioner to create bespoke recommendations for you to adopt. These will aim to stabilise your hormones and help you to regain optimal health. If you’d like better hormone balance, contact me here.
Would you like natural support to improve your hormone balance? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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