One health topic that seems to be receiving more and more attention lately is hormone health. And it makes sense! Our hormones regulate our energy, our mood, our menstrual cycle, our skin – essentially everything in our body! Most of the time when you have a hormone issue, you’re instructed to hop on a birth control pill or take a synthetic hormone. The holistic world, however, recommends that you give seed cycling a try.
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling uses a rotation of certain seeds in conjunction with your cycle to help regulate your estrogen and progesterone levels, ultimately balancing out your menstrual cycle, alleviating symptoms of PMS, and helping regulate your overall energy and mood.
Slow down – seeds for hormone health? It may sound crazy but the way your body breaks down these particular seeds can actually help bind to excess estrogen or stimulate progesterone production. I was initially skeptical; there I was, coming off of the pill after ten years of daily reliance. My hormones were a mess. My holistic OBGYN suggested I give seed cycling a shot; she also advised that it could take a minimum of 8-12 months before I started to get a period again. So, I did my research, and next thing I knew I found myself in Whole Foods checking out with giant bags of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Seed Cycling 101
Here’s how it works: you break your cycle into two halves – usually by a standard 28-day cycle.
Your focus is boosting estrogen to help support the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle.
Estrogen boosting buddies? Pumpkin seeds & Flax seeds
What do you do? You add 1 Tbsp of pumpkin seeds or flax seeds into your diet for the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle, beginning with the first day of your period. Studies have shown that pumpkin and flax seeds help bind to excess estrogen, reduce symptoms of PMS, and promote ovulation!
Days 15-28 (or whenever your period finally arrives)
Your focus shifts to boosting progesterone to support the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle.
Progesterone boosting buddies? Sunflower seeds & Sesame seeds
What do you do? You add 1 Tbsp of sunflower seeds or sesame seeds into your diet until your beautiful monthly buddy arrives. Progesterone helps to thicken your uterine lining, which, depending on your goals, can help you maintain a pregnancy or, without being TMI, promote a healthy period.
In addition, this progesterone boost can help eliminate some of those pesky PMS symptoms that result from low progesterone levels (think cramps, low libido, and weight gain).
Does seed cycling work?
I started seed cycling last April, choosing pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, solely for the purpose of taste. The second week of July, I was sitting on a rooftop wondering what I’d eaten earlier that day to cause so much stomach pain. I went to go use the bathroom and – boom – seed cycling pulled through! Eight to twelve months, my ass! There I was, 25 years old, having my first natural period.
You go, girl!
If you’re experiencing issues with your menstrual cycle, always chat with your OBGYN. They can run your blood work to see what your hormone levels look like. If you’re holistic like me, and don’t want to supplement with hormone pills or birth control, give seed cycling a chance! It can be used minimally to help alleviate heavy cramping and painful periods, or to its fullest extent of regulating your 28-day cycle. For anyone else on birth control, seed cycling will most likely be ineffective, because your pill itself is working to regulate your levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Everyone is different and I’ve heard of so many quick success stories as well as people who couldn’t seem to get it to work. As always with your health, make sure you’re continuously being kind to yourself and patient with the process. Cycle away!