You’ve probably heard about seed cycling already. It’s been listed and discussed and bandied on the internet on blogs and Instagram. If not, stick around, you’re in for a treat. You might even learn something important about yourself and your health.
What is Seed Cycling?
During different stages of a woman’s cycle, the body needs different types of sustenance to handle the changes and challenges of a hormonal-based event. Western medicine has had the idea the best way to address a cycle is to “bear up” under the sudden changes the body goes through or to control it by brute force.
Birth-control pills and other hormone-based prescriptions are based on the theory that if the body is forced to alter its natural rhythms, the cycle will be less intrusive.
Recently, a number of doctors and nutritionists have introduced a radical but rational idea: using the sustenance in the foods we eat, which greatly affect the body already. As such, they can be used to help smooth the body through hormonal changes.
Seed cycling is an outgrowth of that study, using nutrition to balance estrogen and progesterone. This changes the balance between them as the cycle continues and provides what the body needs as it needs it.
A Brief Note on Hormone Disruption
It may sound as though this would be an unnecessary concern. After all, a cycle is a very natural occurrence, one which every woman has in common. We do not, however, live in a natural world. Increasingly, we use more and more toxins in our daily life.
Cleaning products may well be the worst culprit. Artificial and corrosive chemicals in regular household products can build in your skin and bloodstream, and while they may not be fatal, they can make the hormonal imbalance worse, and harder to “bear up” under. For more information on toxic chemicals in cleaners, and ways to eliminate toxins in your home, visit here.
It’s not just draining cleaners either. Personal care products can also contain toxins, and they too can build up over time. Listen to my podcast with Melissa Schollaert on Health Damaging Toxins in Our Personal Care Products for more information.
It has long been a belief the lunar orbit has a profound effect on a cycle. A typical period goes for a total of approximately 28 days, and the lunar orbit is slightly over 29. According to research done in 2011, nearly 30% of the women interviewed started their period around the full moon each month.
What’s the Point of the Balance?
There are two hormones in play during a cycle: estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen is required by the body in the first part of the cycle, called the “follicular” phase. That is the phase which creates (eventually) ovulation. Once this phase is over, estrogen needs to lessen to allow progesterone to kick in. When estrogen does not reduce, symptoms can include tender breasts, irritability, and can even create cysts and fibroids. These symptoms are NOT the inevitable result of menstruation, as Western medicine has taught us!
An imbalance between these hormones can cause the body to react in various ways, which combined, create PMS!
So, How Do I Seed Cycle?
The types of seeds used for the first part of the cycle are flax and pumpkin.
First of all, and this is very important: Do not Cook the seeds. This will evaporate the oils and defeat the entire purpose of what you’re doing. Adding them to a salad is a yummy choice, so long as they are raw. However, the seeds should be ground. The stomach has a hard time processing seeds, so grinding them up will make them easier to digest, so you get the most nutrition out of them.
The preliminary stage will give your body the tools it needs to create the lining in the uterus. This part generally lasts for the first 15 or so days of the cycle. For this, the body needs estrogen, and a good supplement for estrogen is flaxseed (keep them refrigerated) and pumpkin seeds. You won’t need a lot, a couple of ground-up tablespoons daily should do nicely.
Try them in a smoothie or mixed in with cottage cheese and fruit. You can alternatively use chia seeds and hemp seeds.
As a healthy bonus, try to add fish oil to your daily regime. Omega-3 and Omega-6 will help circulate and absorb hormones. You can get those in capsules, and there are vegetarian alternatives available. 1,500 – 2,000mg per day will greatly improve your ability to absorb hormones.
Second Part of Cycle
The types of seeds used for the second part of the cycle are ground sunflower and sesame.
After ovulation, the body thickens the uterus wall and readies it for implantation. This is the work of progesterone. Your body needs more of this than estrogen to provide it the minerals and supplies the body craves. Eating ground sunflower and sesame seeds for the second part of the cycle gives you more to work with and helps to keep PMS to a minimum. Add these to a salad, soup, or your favorite Italian foods.
For this phase, add 1,500 to 2,000 mg of Evening Primrose Oil every day for added benefit. This has been indicated to ease PMS symptoms and ease cramping. As a bonus, this helps with clear and healthy skin.
What If My Cycle is Irregular or Missing?
If your regular time of the month isn’t so regular, try using the seed cycle method by the phases of the moon. Consider the new moon to the full moon as part one and use ground pumpkin seed and flax. Then from full moon to new moon again, turn to sunflower and sesame. Even if your cycle isn’t regular, the phases of the moon are, and you can regulate your body’s need with the lunar cycle.
What’s the Catch?
Mostly, it’s common sense. Just keep a few things in mind:
- If you have low estrogen, you might want to use less flax seed or eliminate flax entirely. Getting your hormone levels tested is simple and safe and should be done before starting seed cycling so that you get the most benefit from the practice.
- Do not buy pre-ground seeds. Pre-ground seeds are common, especially with flax. The problem is that when they are ground and then boxed, the air gets to the seeds and dries the oils, which is the part you need.
- Remember, don’t bake or cook them. The heat will also remove the oils, and the benefits from the seed will be significantly lessened.
A Few Tips:
- To grind the seeds, you can put them in a blender, this is especially helpful if you like an excellent smoothy. Grind the seeds first and then add the rest. You can also use a coffee grinder. This is likely the easiest method of grinding the seeds.
- Keep the seed refrigerated for maximum freshness.
- If you have digestive issues or get more from the seeds, you might try soaking them. Check here for more information on soaking the seeds.
So, What Do I Do with Them?
There are many fun and creative ways to use seeds in everyday foods. Smoothies have been prominently mentioned, but here are some other ideas:
- Sprinkle on yogurt or oatmeal
- Add some as a topping for pudding
- Though you cannot bake the seeds say in a pancake, you can add them to buttered toast
- Add as a garnish on salads
- Add to soups
- Pumpkin and flax seeds go great with pesto
- Try making seed butter – there are a lot of recipes on the internet
- Add pumpkin and flax or sesame and sunflower seeds to homemade granola. This makes for a delicious healthy snack.
Though birth control pills are often prescribed to alleviate the symptoms associated with cycles, they are unnecessary! If you’re trying to become pregnant, or you are entering pre-menopause, this might not be an alternative. Long-term use of synthetic medications is dangerous! Seed cycling is all-natural and non-invasive. It is a way to provide your body with the fuel and raw materials it craves as your cycle runs through.
Seed cycling has been shown to improve cycles, though it may take three months to see the best effects. Your body will require some time to grow accustomed to the change in diet and hormones. Don’t give up!
PMS is one symptom of a hormone imbalance, others can include:
- Skin acne
- Depression-like symptoms
- Heavy sweating
- Unusual fatigue
- Irregular cycle
- Low libido
- Lack of sleep
It makes sense then, to give your body the boost it needs and help it overcome the imbalances and toxicity everyday life creates. Seed cycling is a natural, delicious way to overcome cramping, irritability, and pain as your cycle progresses.
Remember, diet, no matter how healthy, may not by itself solve medical issues. While there is no risk to seed cycling, it is always best to have yourself checked for hormone levels and to monitor when you ovulate.
But if there was an easy, inexpensive, and delicious way to regulate and ease your monthly cycle, to help alleviate the discomfort and pain which can come with your period, there’s no reason not to try it.
If you want a great place to buy high quality seeds in bulk, I highly recommend Azure Standard (if they deliver in your area)! We order from them monthly and they have both flax seeds and pumpkin seeds in bulk.
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