What is seed cycling? And how can it help normalise your hormonal balance? Seed cycling, a natural remedy that has been around for hundreds of years, has been recently on the rise in the global health community. How does it promote the potential benefits for women’s health? In this article, our clinical dietitian Lama Dalloul explains how this ancient practice may improve your hormonal balance and how you can easily incorporate seed cycling into your diet.
What is seed cycling?
It is believed that consuming four types of seeds during certain phases of your menstrual cycle may improve the symptoms associated with the hormonal imbalance. Simply put, seed cycling involves taking pumpkin and flax seeds during the first phase of your menstrual cycle, then following up with sunflower and sesame seeds in the second half.
First, let’s agree that seed cycling is not a medically proven treatment for hormone imbalance and there are no extensive clinical studies to back up its efficacy. Rather, seed cycling is a natural remedy that is believed to organically improve the symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and potentially help regulate the menstrual cycle for some women, including those with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and women suffering from ovarian cysts. Just like in any homeopathic treatments, the efficacy of seed cycling is based on non-scientific observations. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that seed cycling may as well relieve the hormonal imbalance symptoms of premenopausal and menopausal women.
While benefits for women’s health have been mainly anecdotal, medical studies do show that consuming seeds can generally improve your digestive health, as the seeds contain fibre and protein. In general, there are no side effects associated with seed cycling, except for individual food allergies.
How to follow seed cycling?
Following seed cycling is simple. The practice involves taking 1 tablespoon of pumpkin and flax seeds every day during the first phase of the menstrual cycle (follicular phase) and taking 1 tablespoon of sunflower and sesame seeds daily in the second half of the cycle (the luteal phase).
Not sure how to divide your cycle days? Let’s break it down! An average cycle of a woman consists of 28 days and is divided into 2 phases. The follicular phase (Day 1 of the period until the ovulation or Day 14) and the luteal phase (Day 15 to Day 28 just before the period). If your period is irregular or absent, you can still follow the 14 + 14 day schedule.
When to await results? Some women might start seeing improvements in the first cycle, but it might take up to 4 months until they notice real changes.
How is seed cycling going to help with hormonal balance?
Normally during the follicular phase, oestrogen levels start low and rise until the ovulation day. On the other hand, during the luteal phase, a sudden drop in oestrogen occurs right after ovulation, while progesterone levels begin to rise steadily. Due to the hormonal changes in your body, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, cramps, acne and mood swings. That is when the seed cycling method is thought to potentially ease these symptoms and improve your overall well being.
Key facts about the seeds:
Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens, which are thought to enhance oestrogen levels. They are also a good source of lignans and omega 3 fatty acids that play a role in fighting inflammation.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc that plays a major role in promoting progesterone levels and preparing the body for the luteal phase.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E and selenium. Vitamin E helps in boosting progesterone levels, while selenium helps detox the liver from oestrogen excess.
Lignans in sesame seeds help inhibit oestrogen levels necessary for hormonal balance in your body.
Tips for incorporating seeds into your diet
Seed cycling is a very gentle naturopathic practice that is easy to follow. You don’t have to follow a special recipe to add those seeds to your food. Simply, just sprinkle it over your salad or soup or add it to your porridge or yogurt when you have breakfast.
For better digestion, grind the raw seeds before adding them to your food. When you prepare your duo ground seed mix, you can keep them in the refrigerator.
In the end, remember that your body is affected by many factors like genetics, lifestyle, food habits and environmental factors. Natural remedies and a healthy diet may help you to improve your health in a natural way. However, don’t forget to consult with a physician if you are facing any serious health issues connected to your cycle.