Seed cycling is used to support female hormones of the menstrual cycle.
The Hormone Cycle
There are 2 phases of the female hormone cycle: the Follicular Phase and Luteal Phase. The Follicular Phase starts on the first day of menstrual flow (your period), and ends with ovulation – usually Day 14 but this varies between women. During the Follicular Phase, estrogen is the main hormone released and progesterone is low. After ovulation, the Luteal Phase begins and progesterone is released from the ovaries. Optimal levels of both estrogen and progesterone are important – estrogen stimulates the growth of the uterine lining and progesterone maintains it. If conception occurs, more progesterone is released to further maintain the lining. If conception does not occur, hormone levels drop and this signals the body to shed the lining. This is referred to as menstruation, or our “period”.
Seed Cycling can guide the body into this rhythm by using estrogen supporting seeds and progesterone supporting seeds.
Seeds are used every day to provide the nutrients our bodies need to make hormones and promote a regular cycle. Here’s how to rotate them:
Day 1 to Day 14 of your cycle (Day 1 = 1st day of period) – Follicular Phase
– 2 tbsp ground flax seed + 2 tbsp pumpkin seed
Day 15 to Day 28 of your cycle – Luteal Phase
– 2 tbsp sesame seed + 2 tbsp sunflower seed
HOW IT WORKS
Flax seed has slight estrogenic effects. It does this by binding estrogen receptors, and is able to create a milder effect similar to what our own estrogen would. For women with high estrogen, flax seed can be used to take up spots on the receptors and decrease the amount of estrogen activity overall. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, an important nutrient used to make the progesterone needed in the Luteal Phase. Sesame seeds naturally contain zinc and selenium, while sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E – all of which are required to further support progesterone production in the Luteal Phase.
Tip: You will want to store ground flax seed in the fridge to keep the oils fresh (oils are released from flax when ground up).
WHO CAN USE SEED CYCLING
Seed Cycling can be used by anyone looking to bring balance to their hormones! In practice, I use this protocol for women experiencing irregular cycles, long cycles (ie. over 35 days), short cycles (ie. under 25 days), bringing back an absent period (amenorrhea), spotting, infertility, promoting fertility, cramping, acne, mood changes, hormone related headaches and migraines, and supporting one’s hormones as they come off the pill. We can even use some of these ingredients for managing menopausal symptoms!
If you are finding it difficult to determine Day 1 (possibly due to spotting) or are unsure of how to rotate seeds because of an irregular cycle, I suggest working with a Naturopathic Doctor to find the best way to cycle the seeds.
Dr. Stephanie Liebrecht, BSc, ND Naturopathic Doctor