Seed Cycling and Menstrual Health
Posted by Paige Brown
We are complex and intricate creatures, us women. One of the phenomenons that make us so great is the menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle is regulated by the interplay of many different hormones in the female body. These hormones play a specific role in each phase of the cycle, and disturbances in these hormones can cause many different ailments from amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, acne, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis and other hormonal issues.
Over the years, women have been forced to deal with some of these issues on our own, and this can be tough terrain to navigate alone. Our Registered Acupuncturists at Whole Family Health are trained extensively in the intricate hormone balance our body goes through each month, so you don’t have to suffer from these symptoms that may plague you every day or every cycle. Aside from regular acupuncture and herbal treatments, one great way to regulate our cycle and to combat some of these symptoms of hormonal disruption is Seed Cycling.
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is the use of seeds during certain phases of the menstrual cycle. These specific seeds help to support hormones such as estrogen and progesterone which are present at certain times of our cycle.
Each seed contains a substance which can help to produce or mitigate progesterone or estrogen as needed in the body, depending on what phase of the cycle you are in.
Follicular phase (Cycle Day 1-14)
This phase represents the first 14 days of your cycle. This phase is where the endometrium (uterine lining) grows and prepares for possible implantation. Several follicles grow and mature within the ovaries during this time with the help of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Once one dominant follicle has reached its maturity and is ready for ovulation, it starts to produce estrogen.
During this estrogen phase, we cycle with flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds contain phytoestrogens which have the capacity to regulate estrogen in the body through lignans.
Lignans are a fibre-rich substance that can help increase estrogen production or reduce it, by binding to excess estrogen and helping to eliminate it.
Pumpkin seeds are used here for their levels of zinc, which are helpful for progesterone production in the second phase, as well as for egg quality.
Both pumpkin and flax seeds are also high in Essential Fatty Acids ( EFA’S) which are crucial to supporting hormonal health.
Supplementing with a good quality Omega 3 fatty acids (EFA & DHA) has also been found to be helpful in reducing inflammation and hormonal function. If you’re trying to get pregnant, these Omega 3’s can help with implantation and fetal development.
Luteal Phase ( Cycle Day 15-28)
After ovulation occurs, the ruptured follicle that’s left behind forms a structure called the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone. This hormone prepares the uterine lining for implantation to support a potential growing embryo. Estrogen is also present at this time to help with the thickening of the endometrium. If fertilization or implantation does not occur, after 14 days the corpus luteum degenerates, progesterone and estrogen drop off and menstruation begins.
In this second phase of menstruation we cycle with sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Sesame seeds are high in zinc and selenium. Zinc is essential to the balance between estrogen, progesterone and testosterone throughout the whole cycle and is essential to the maturation of our eggs for fertilization. Selenium is also important for its antioxidant properties and for increasing egg quality.
Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E, another antioxidant which helps reduce reproductive oxidative stress and support proper progesterone levels.
What to do if you don’t have a cycle?
The great thing about seed cycling is that you can use it to restore hormone balance even if you don’t have a cycle, like in the case of amenorrhea, peri-menopause or menopause.
If you currently do not have a menstrual cycle but want to start seed cycling, you can follow the length of the lunar cycle. So begin your first phase or follicular phase on the new moon, and the second or luteal phase on the full moon.
SEED CYCLING INSTRUCTIONS
How do you consume the seeds?
Only fresh, organic, raw seeds should be consumed when seed cycling. Flax seeds and sesame seeds should be freshly ground. A pepper grinder works well for this.
Seeds can be enjoyed in oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies!
Follicular Phase (Cycle Day 1-14)
- 1 TBSP Flax seeds
- 1 TBSP Pumpkin seeds
Luteal Phase (Cycle 15-28)
- 1 TBSP Sesame seeds
- 1 TBSP Sunflower seeds