SEED CYCLING is a natural and gentle method to help relieve PMS, reduce symptoms of PCOS and to help regulate irregular cycles.
Seed cycling can be effective for women in all stages of their life-cycle, those who are menstruating, pre-menopausal and menopausal.
What is it? Seed cycling is a simple concept whereby one adds certain seeds into the diet at specific times of a woman’s cycle to help regulate the hormonal cycle with the aim of bringing back balance (1, 2). There is little outlay, an upside from the nutrient density of the seeds being consumed (eg omega 3 fats, selenium, B vitamins, magnesium) with potentially a large return on investment.
How does it work? There are two main phases of the female menstrual cycle – the first half, or the follicular phase, when oestrogen is dominant and the second, the luteal phase, when progesterone is dominant. Different seeds have different qualities and functions which are used at specific times to help support the hormones in their respective phases.
The protocol listed below should be followed in line with your menstrual cycle if it is regular or, if irregular or absent, in line with the phases of the moon. For those with regular periods, begin on the first day of your cycle (the first day of menstruation). If you currently have no periods or they are very irregular, start Phase 1 on the first day of the new moon and begin phase 2 of the protocol approximately 14 days later.
How to do it.
Phase 1 of the oestrogen-dominant phase of your cycle. Everyday take:
1 tablespoon of organic, raw and ground flax seeds
1 tablespoon of organic, raw and ground pumpkin seeds
These seeds are both rich in omega 3 fatty acids which promote healthy cell membranes, lignans and zinc which help support the first phase of your cycle and prepare your body for the second. Lignans are a group of plant polyphenols known as phyto-oestrogens which have both weak oestrogenic and anti-oestrogenic properties and are thus known as a great modulator of oestrogen levels (3).
Phase 2 – days 15 to 28 of your cycle. This is the luteal phase where progesterone rises and should become dominant. Everyday take:
1 tablespoon of organic, raw and ground sesame seeds
1 tablespoons of organic, raw and ground sunflower seeds
These seeds are higher in omega 6 fatty acids, zinc and selenium, needed to help support progesterone production, and lower in lignans. These seeds are also a rich source of linoleic acid (converted to gamma-linoleic acid) and helps balance progesterone and oestrogen.
Various oils can be added to the protocol – approximately 1500mg of combined EPA and DHA in days 1-14 and evening primrose oil in days 15-28 have been shown to be effective.
How to Prepare the Seeds
It is best to purchase the whole seeds (raw, organic and un-hulled) and use a coffee grinder, pestle and mortar or vitamix to grind them. Only prepare a 2-day supply at a time as the ground seeds are susceptible to oxidation (damage) and can go rancid. Store the ground seeds in an airtight container or jar and keep in the refrigerator to keep them as fresh as possible.
There are a number of ways to consume the seeds, such as in smoothies, salads, soups, sprinkled on cereal or porridge and added to vegetables or grains, or simply on their own if you prefer. Consistency is important so work out how you are going to achieve this if you know you are not good at remembering when to take things. Set a time on your phone or put a post it on your fridge. It can take a few months (3-4) often to notice a change so stick with it. Be consistent and be patient.
Stress. It is hard to write about a condition now-days and how to support it through nutrition and lifestyle without mentioning stress. Stress has a significant impact on your hormones and often we have to change more than one thing in our life to get the best results. So think about taking some time out for yourself – 5 minutes meditation each day – morning or evening – or a warm bath with Epsom salts, to tap into your para-sympathetic nervous system. When we are in a state of sympathetic nervous system activation, our body uses the building blocks (cholesterol and DHEA) needed to make oestrogen and progesterone to preferentially produce cortisol. Taking a holistic approach is important in helping bring about balance in all aspects of your body.
A little extra side note of interest about lignans and something to consider if you have tried seed cycling but not received the results you may have hoped for. Lignans must be converted or metabolised in the gut to their active compounds by certain gut bacteria and dysbiosis through, say, previous antibiotic use, may have resulted in a lack of necessary bacteria to carry out this conversion (4). Thus, a more functional approach may be required to get to your root cause.
If you want to find out more about how nutritional therapy can help balance hormones and testing that is available, contact Katherine here or fill in the form below.