Women’s health is gaining more attention now than ever before, and at the forefront is the topic of hormonal balance. Imbalanced hormones are responsible for a wide range of physical and emotional health challenges that women commonly experience, including menstrual cramps, irregular cycles, fatigue, irritability, and sleep issues.
Women’s hormones fluctuate naturally throughout their monthly fertility cycle. In earlier times, before we were completely surrounded by artificial light, this cycle naturally followed the waxing and waning of the moon. It would last about 28 days, reaching peak ovulation during the full moon’s light and ebbing to lowest fertility levels during the dark of the new moon.
Today, our modern lifestyles are much less in sync with the rhythms of nature, and factors such as stress, diet and environmental toxins can all disrupt our hormonal cycles. That’s why many naturopaths and herbalists are bringing back the traditional practice of seed cycling. This strangely simple remedy for naturally balancing your hormones may be just what you need.
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is an easy, nourishing ritual that consists of rotating certain seeds into your diet to help nudge your hormones in the right direction during the appropriate phases of your fertility cycle. Seeds contain natural phytoestrogens and other nutrients that can influence your body’s hormone production and detoxification.
During the waxing phase of your fertility cycle, known as the Follicular Phase, your body needs more estrogen in order to build up the uterus lining. Eating seeds that are high in phytoestrogens and lignans can support healthy estrogen production while helping the body to detox excess estrogen.
In the second or Luteal Phase of your cycle, progesterone is released to help thicken that uterus lining for implantation. Seeds that are high in zinc and vitamin E have been shown to support healthy progesterone production.
How to Seed Cycle
Phase 1: Follicular Phase
Days 1-14 of your cycle
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds and flax seeds contain phytoestrogens to give estrogen production a healthy boost during this phase. This effect is balanced by lignans in the flax seeds, which help block excess estrogen production, and by zinc in the pumpkin seeds, which helps prevent estrogen from converting into harmful forms of testosterone.
Phase 2: Luteal Phase
- 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds provide the body with zinc and selenium, which encourage progesterone production and help the liver to detox, an important factor in hormonal balance. Sesame seeds are high in vitamin E, a natural progesterone booster, and also contain some lignans to help to reduce extra estrogen.
Tips for Success
- If possible, all seeds should be organic, unhulled, and raw. They should also be ground to ensure they don’t pass through the digestive system whole. You can grind them easily in a coffee grinder and add them to smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt, or sprinkle them on salads or vegetables. Due to oxidation, seeds can go rancid fairly quickly, so it’s best to grind them fresh every day.
- Remember, it’s always smart to check in with your medical provider before beginning a new health routine. Get your hormones checked so that you have an accurate baseline to start from, then keep a diary so that you can track any changes and symptoms and adjust your seed intake accordingly. Also, be patient: it may take up to 3-4 full cycles before you see results.
- Seed cycling is a completely natural and easy-to-use technique that can gently guide your hormones into balance. Taking the time to pay closer attention to your own natural cycle is also a great way to get more in touch with your body. You’ll begin to notice how your body and moods shift along with your hormones, and how your lifestyle choices can influence how you feel. It may be the beginning of a whole new wellness journey.