Follicular Phase and Seed Cycling
The follicular phase is the first half of your cycle. Oestrogen is your main hormone that rises and spikes to trigger ovulation. Testosterone also rises prior to ovulation to assist in increased libido for “baby-making”.
Flaxseeds help with excess oestrogen elimination to support optimal oestrogen levels. Fresh ground flaxseeds are an excellent way to balance your oestrogen without pushing you towards oestrogen dominance, which is a common cause of heavy periods and PMS. They are rich in lignans, which have a weak oestrogenic effect and are beneficial in improving oestrogen and progesterone ratios. As well as good for heart health and supporting healthy bones.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc which supports healthy testosterone levels. They are also rich in antioxidants which we need to protect our ovaries, eggs, and entire reproductive system. Pumpkin seeds are also a source of tryptophan, which the body uses to create serotonin and melatonin. Combine with a carbohydrate and this can assist with insomnia. Sleep has a profound effect on hormonal health and if there is a hormone imbalance, then sleep can be a real issue. Some women experience improved sleep after a couple of months using seed cycling.
Luteal Phase and Seed Cycling
Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are rich in lignans and fatty acids to support the luteal phase. Sesame seeds have been shown to be beneficial to women’s hormones even through menopause. They may also be helpful in lowering inflammation and have also been shown to protect heart health by modulating inflammation and support cholesterol metabolism. Your sex hormones are made from cholesterol. And inflammation causes s response from the adrenal glands, which can lead to a hormone imbalance.
Sunflower seeds contain nutrients like iron, which support oestrogen detoxification via the liver. They also contain magnesium which can support healthy prostaglandin levels and may reduce period cramps. They are also a great source of calcium which has also been shown to reduce mood related issues of PMS. Vitamin E (sunflower seeds are a significant source of this vitamin) can also assist in regulating PMS symptoms.
Are the benefits of Seed Cycling a myth?
In short, no! Seed Cycling has been used for decades. It is something I use personally and recommend to all my clients. If you want to transition off hormonal birth control, I recommend commencing this for 2-3 months first. It’s a simple ritual to include nutrient dense foods and support variety in your diet, which your gut will also benefit from.
The practice of seed cycling is a dietary one aimed at supporting your hormones and supplying your body with the nutrients and building blocks to do what it does best.
Some critics argue it is a myth because you cannot find a study that uses the term seed cycling. However, the lack of evidence is not proof that it does not support women’s hormones, but rather it is only proof that science hasn’t asked the question or tried to demonstrate evidence.
Food Science and Nutrition are still in the early stages of understanding the complex interplay between nutrition and health. It has only been very recently that they have discovered the role of the microbiome in our health! These are organisms that maintain health and are maintained, in part, by the food that we eat.
Please remember though, that when seed rotation is used clinically there are other therapies employed as well and not the only thing I have my clients focus on. You cannot skimp on sleep, stop drinking water and never exercise and then just seed cycle your way out of the hormonal chaos that follows! It is not one intervention for one condition.
Using food as medicine to support your health needs as part of your healing journey is paramount.
And for some women, those with and autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, you may have to leverage your pharmaceutical (typically Thyroxine) as part of your treatment plan too, especially if you have period problems. Which you most likely will do as thyroid problems become period problems. Using thyroid medication along with diet and lifestyle therapies (like moving your body and having the appropriate nutrients) may be required to ensure your body can convert the thyroxine to the active form of T3.
Seed cycling is also beneficial for Peri-menopause women and Menopause.
Seed rotation can help with painful period cramps. Generally, because the cause of those painful periods is rooted in excess prostaglandins, oestrogen dominance and inflammation. Because these seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids they can help lower inflammation and the effects of prostaglandins. The lignans and nutrients support the elimination of oestrogen from the body so that you do not run into issues with oestrogen dominance.
So, cycling seeds can be excellent for alleviating painful periods, I also typically will encourage my clients to leverage the results through additional targeted supplementation for at least 3 months while the seeds work their magic.
Can Seed Cycling help PCOS symptoms?
Seeds are a great source of zinc, which supports healthy testosterone production. Testosterone is an androgen and in PCOS, androgens are responsible for the hair loss, acne, hirsutism (hair growth on the face, chest and/or abdomen) that is commonly experienced by women with PCOS.
Research has shown that women consuming flaxseeds have more favourable levels of androgens and the seeds help with oestrogen elimination while also supporting gut health. These seeds are rich in essential fatty acids, which support oil production and decrease inflammation. Other nutrients, like zinc, found in these seeds are important for skin health and acne management.
Acne and Seed Cycling
Acne can be due to s number of factors including excess testosterone, oestrogen dominance, poor gut health, inefficient liver detoxification, and lack of quality nutrients in the diet. Acne is also common when women come off birth control due to what is called an androgen rebound, an increase in testosterone production after stopping hormonal birth control. And therefore, I recommend clients to begin seed cycling when coming off of birth control first, preferably 2-3 months prior.
How to Start Seed Cycling
The practice works best when the seeds are fresh ground and they definitely need to be raw and organic. You can add these seeds to a variety of dishes and simply include them in smoothies! I have included 2 recipes here and here to assist with both the Follicular phase and the Luteal phase.
Other ideas are:
· Always easy in smoothies or smoothie bowls.
· Add on top of oats, porridge, or granola for breakfast.
· Add to a bowl of coconut yoghurt or organic greek yoghurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon (to assist in blood sugar balance) and raw honey.
· Sprinkle them on salads.
Give your body the nutrients it needs to create amazing hormone health!
Seed cycling is a safe and effective way to support your hormones and your body unless you have an allergy to seeds. Otherwise it is a very gentle way to give your body what it needs to bring hormones into balance.
You will need to give yourself a full cycle to note any changes. Typically, seed cycling needs to be combined with other hormone supportive practices to have a noticeable effect. I work closely with my clients to understand their bio-individual needs and help to put these into practice. You cannot expect to just seed cycle and dodge vegetables and skip sleep and create any real change to your hormones!
For some women it can take up to 3 months to really notice an effect, but typically you will note some improvement after your first month.
If you are experiencing unwanted symptoms it is wise to use 2 tablespoons of each seed, during the specific phases. Once symptoms settle (give yourself time) you can minimise this to no less than 1 tablespoon. If you need to avoid a particular seed because of sensitivities, then choose one from each phase and eat 2 tablespoons daily.
Please reach out for any hormone related advice and support.
Happy Seed Cycling xx