Seed Cycling is the practice of consuming specific seeds at different points of the menstrual cycle to promote healthy hormone balance. It can be used for a variety of different menstrual complaints such as irregular cycles, absent cycles or absent ovulation.
Typically, a healthy menstrual cycle will be approximately 28 days from the first day of bleeding until the day before the next bleed starts, however, anywhere between 25 and 31 days is still considered perfectly healthy as everyone’s body is different. During this cycle the body’s hormones fluctuate, which controls both ovulation and menstrual bleeding.
Oestrogen & Follicular Phase The follicular phase occurs during the first 14 days of the cycle where the hormone oestrogen is steadily rising. Oestrogen hits a peak just before day 14 which stimulates the release of an egg/mature follicle from the ovary, resulting in ovulation. After ovulation, oestrogen will then remain at a low level until the next menstrual bleed.
Progesterone & Luteal Phase Progesterone is another hormone that plays an important role in the cycle. This hormone will remain low for the first 14 days, jumping up rapidly after ovulation in the luteal phase. Progesterone’s role is to thicken the lining of the uterus ready for a baby. If we fall pregnant progesterone will remain high. When we don’t fall pregnant this lining is not needed and will shed which makes up our menstrual bleed. We need progesterone to replenish the lining of our uterus every month.
Many plants contain chemicals which resemble our body’s hormones and can aid the body in functions where hormones play a role. Seeds are a safe and natural plant-based option for stimulating the natural hormones in the body and can be used for establishing a healthy menstrual cycle.
The idea of seed cycling is to consume oestrogen stimulating seeds during the first 14 days of the cycle when the body’s oestrogen would normally be high, followed by progesterone stimulating seeds in the following 14 days of the cycle when the body’s progesterone would normally be high.
Days 1 – 14 (Follicular Phase): Flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds both contain phytoestrogens, a plant-based form of oestrogen. By consuming 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and one tablespoon of ground pumpkin seeds each day for 14 days, your body will respond to the rise of oestrogen contained in these seeds by establishing a follicular phase.
Days 15 – 28 (Luteal Phase): Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds both contain plant-based chemicals that either resemble progesterone or act on progesterone pathways in the body. By consuming 1 tablespoon of ground sesame and one tablespoon of sunflower seeds each day for the next 14 days, the body will start to enter the luteal phase.
These four types of seeds also contain many nutrients that aid the development of healthy menstrual cycles such as essential fatty acids, zinc, selenium and antioxidants. By consuming seeds in our diet we are not only establishing balanced hormonal levels but also providing the body with the nourishment it needs to function optimally.