Hormone balance via seed cycling

Author of the blog I Love Being Healthy

⏰ READING TIME: 3 minutes

Hi, and thanks for visiting the blog!
I am pretty sure that today’s topic might interest you. It’s about a holistic approach to re-balance the hormonal phases of the menstrual cycle; it is based on seeds. Yes, seeds, and of various types: linseed, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower! Let’s talk about the menstrual phases and how to introduce seeds in the diet in a targeted fashion, in order to naturally support the hormones.

1. What is seed cycling?

Seed cycling is a method that utilizes different seeds to sustain the organism during the menstrual phases, balance the hormone levels, mitigate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause, induce menstruation if absent (amenorrhea), enhance fertility and sustain the body in the case of ovarian cysts, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis [1].
Seed cycling is an incredibly natural and low-cost way to sustain the female body and is also easy. It simply uses nutrition to support the “healing”, sometimes reducing the need for additional therapies, drugs, dietary supplements or herbs.
The term cycling indicates the rotation of various seeds between the two principal menstrual phases (follicular and luteal), contributing to regulating the hormonal secretions both inside and outside the organism [2].

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2. Phases of the menstrual cycle

When talking about seed cycling, we must consider two main menstrual phases:

  • PHASE 1: follicular phase, which begins along with menstruation
  • PHASE 2: luteal phase, which begins after ovulation

In theory, each of these phases lasts exactly 14 days, if we assume a regular cycle of 28 days that is aligned with the lunar phases, that is, with phase 1 and 2 starting on the new moon and the full moon, respectively (what has the moon to do with this? I’ll explain it in a while!!)
Realistically speaking, not every one of us has a 28-days cycle, and it is perfectly fine. The duration of a woman’s cycle, normally, can vary between 21 and 35 days. The disconnection from nature, along with the daily chronic stress that is often handled in inappropriate ways, is among the factors that have removed this ancient rhythm from our cycles. Nonetheless, adopting the seed cycling method can help to synchronize the menstrual phases, restoring their balance with the organism.

Keep in mind that every change needs time, especially if we must honour the delicate balance and sensitivity of our body. It will probably take 3-4 cycles to start seeing evident changes; thus, be patient before deciding that this holistic approach does not work for you. It is useful to keep going with seed cycling also in the following months, even after noticing substantial changes, or you will risk jeopardising its beneficial effects.

Seed cycling is based on the alternation of seeds rich in oils and specific nutritious substances to balance the prevalent female hormones in each phase. Use the following guide to sustain your hormone balance and regulation!

PLEASE NOTE: If you suffer from a severe hormone imbalance, go see a doctor and/or a holistic expert; seed cycling is not the solution in such cases and, thus, personalised support is required.

3. Guide to seed cycling

Every day, you will have to ingest a spoon of each seed type – slightly ground (two spoons in total) – indicated for the corresponding phase. The starting point depends on how much you are familiar with your cycle and its regularity. Probably, you already do it but, still, remember to mark on the calendar the day your menstrual bleeding begins and try to estimate the average duration of your menstruation. If you know exactly when you ovulate (by measuring daily your basal body temperature, using ovulation sticks or checking the cervical mucus), you might be even more precise; however, this is not strictly necessary.

FOLLICULAR PHASE

The follicular phase lasts about 14 days, starting from the first day of menstruation. During this phase, the estrogen levels begin as low and, then, constantly increase, to prepare the organism for ovulation (release of an egg) and a potential pregnancy (this image [3] can help you to better follow the explanation below).

The rising of the estrogen levels consequently increases the luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, while their reduction leads to the release of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Hence, there is a fine line between too much and too little estrogens, and unbalanced estrogen levels can impact also these other two hormones.

If the estrogen levels are balanced, so will be the LH and FSH levels. Seed cycling will help you do this. The lignans present in the seeds that you will eat during this phase are a plant source of estrogens capable of conforming to the estrogen level of your organism. In other words, they increase but can also reduce, if in excess, the estrogen levels. The lignans bind the estrogen receptors and help to regulate the production of estrogens by the organism. The seeds that you are going to use during this phase are also rich in Omega 3 and, thus, useful for inflammation reduction, FSH level regulation and fertility enhancement.

Along with seed cycling, the introduction of fish oil during the follicular phase can provide further benefits since it is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and a great source of Omega 3.

Begin PHASE 1 on the first day of menstrual bleeding and continue for about 14 days. If you know your ovulation day, continue with the seeds for the follicular phase until then. If you know the average duration of your menstrual cycle, stop at half of it (for example, if your cycle lasts 26 days, continue until day 13; if it lasts 32 days, continue until day 16; and so on).

If you know precisely when you ovulate and your follicular phase lasts more than three weeks, you might suffer from some unbalance.

FOLLICULAR PHASE

Linseeds (a spoon per day)

  • Rich in lignans, to block the production of excess estrogens
  • Rich in Omega 3

Pumpkin seeds (a spoon per day)

  • Rich in zinc, to prepare the organism for progesterone production in the next phase
  • Rich in Omega 3

Fish oil (bonus)

  • Contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), important Omega-3 fatty acids present only in cold-water fishes
  • Rich in lignans

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LUTEAL PHASE

The luteal phase should last at least ten days. If it’s shorter, it is clear evidence of low progesterone levels and possible fertility issues. Progesterone determines the quality of the endometrium (uterine lining) and facilitates the egg implantation; it requires at least ten days to reach suitable levels.

The beginning of the luteal phase is characterized by a sudden reduction in the estrogen, FSH and LH levels, which occurs immediately after ovulation (refer again to this image [3]). This happens simultaneously with the expected increasing trend of the progesterone levels. The estrogen levels also rise during this phase (with a second “peak”) and, if they become too high, can induce the PMS symptoms and a difficult cycle.

Progesterone keeps the estrogens under control and, thus, the modulation of its levels is essential for reproductive health. During this phase, you will focus on Omega-6 fatty acids, which are converted into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the organisms, supporting the progesterone levels and reducing the inflammation associated with the PMS.

Besides seed cycling, the introduction of evening primrose oil (EPO) during the luteal phase can also be useful since this is another source of Omega 6 and helps to reduce premenstrual pain as well as improve fertility.

Begin PHASE 2 immediately after ovulation (or at about half of your menstrual cycle) to balance the hormones. If your cycle is irregular or you suffer from amenorrhea, pick the first day of the new moon as the starting date (check here [4] the lunar calendar). This will allow you to keep track of a simple sequence of dates and follow a cycle of 14 days, equal and alternated.

LUTEAL PHASE

Sesame seeds (a spoon per day)
• Rich in lignans, to modulate the estrogen and progesterone levels
• Rich in Omega 6 (converted into GLA in the organism)

Sunflower seeds (a spoon per day)
• Rich in selenium, which supports the hepatic functioning to prevent obstruction by excess hormones, consequently ensuring a correct hormonal secretion
• Rich in Omega 6 (converted into GLA in the organism)

Evening primrose oil (bonus)
Rich in GLA and other important Omega-6 fatty acids

 

4. Things to keep in mind

  1. Use always raw seeds (not toasted, salted or spiced) to ensure they preserve their properties. If possible, use organic seeds.
  2. Seeds are rich in fats and can get oxidised if exposed to sunlight and/or hot temperatures. Try to store them in a cool and dry place, preferably in the pantry or, if it’s too hot, the fridge.
  3. Seeds start to oxidise 15 minutes after being ground; therefore, it’s better grinding them right at the moment (a coffee grinder is perfect). If this is impossible or problematic, store the pre-ground seeds in the freezer and take, each time, only the required portion. The linseeds must ALWAYS be ground; you can just well chew the other seed types if you don’t want to grind them, but grinding is essential for linseeds to ensure their correct assimilation.
  4. Seeds can be consumed with other foods. Try them in smoothies (they are ground directly in the blender), salads or soups. In the case of hot dishes, add them to the plate after cooking to prevent denaturation of their nutrients.
  5. Are you taking a birth control pill or following a hormone replacement therapy? In such cases, seed cycling will be ineffective. Your estrogen and progesterone levels are already controlled by these treatments and, thus, seeds cycling is not for you.
  6. How to understand whether seed cycling is working? After a few months, you should start to perceive its beneficial effects: less pre-menstrual pain, less breast pain during ovulation and menstruation, and a more regular cycle. What do you say? Is it worth trying?

PS: Leave a comment to let me know which topics you would like to read on the next articles of this blog and whether you like this format! Thanks in advance for your help.

Follow me on Instagram: @ilovebeinghealthy_88

 

Bibliography:

[1] How to seed cycle + why you should for glowing hormone health, su https://thechalkboardmag.com/how-to-seed-cycle-for-your-period-hormone-health. URL consultato il 9 maggio 2020.

[2] Ormoni e meccanismi dell’azione ormonale, su http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/ormoni-e-meccanismi-dell-azione-ormonale_%28Enciclopedia-della-Scienza-e-della-Tecnica%29/. URL consultato il 9 maggio 2020.

[3] File:MenstrualCycle2 it.svg, su https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MenstrualCycle2_it.svg. URL consultato il 9 maggio 2020.

[4] Calendario delle fasi lunari, su https://it.astro-seek.com/calendario-lunare-fasi-lunari. URL consultato il 9 maggio 2020.

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