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If you’re a lady, you’re more than familiar with the hormonal changes your body goes or went through on your menstrual cycle. Even if you never experienced any problems, you know that your hormones aren’t steady the entire month. Your leading hormone ladies, estrogen and progesterone, can be the cause of imbalances. Seed cycling, which uses flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds has been trendy over the last few years and tries to ease hormonal symptoms by switching up the seeds according to which menstrual phase you’re in.

How does it work?

Let’s quickly review your menstrual cycle phases first: day 1 of your period is the first day of your menstrual phase and lasts until the end of your period. Your follicular phase is right after that and ends when you ovulate, which then puts you into the ovulatory phase from days 11-14ish. Your luteal phase starts around day 15 until right before your period starts. This is that fun phase where you might experience more bloating, fatigue, mood swings, and cravings. Still confused? This visual may help. If you’re cycle does not perfectly fall into these date ranges, don’t worry! Not every woman’s cycle is a perfect 28 days, but I do recommend tracking it every month to get a feel for how many days is typical for your body. In general, this is the schedule you’re sticking to for seed cycling:

Days 1 – 15ish:

1-2 tbsp ground up flax seeds
1-2 tbsp ground up pumpkin seeds

Days 15 – 28ish:

1-2 tbsp ground up sesame seeds
1-2 tbsp ground up sunflower seeds

 

Why these seeds?

Flax and pumpkin seeds contain lignans, plant compounds which bind to and remove excess estrogen in the body. They basically help balance your estrogen levels in the first half of your cycle. Flax seeds are known as phytoestrogens and weakly mimc estrogen in the body. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in zinc, which may help support ovulation and helps support progesterone production, which rises in the second half of your cycle. Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are rich in zinc and vitamin E, which may support progesterone production and are therefore recommend during for consumption during your luteal phase. They contain lignans as well to help with removing excess estrogen. Progesterone is known as the “calming” hormone, but we don’t experience the mood stabilizing benefits of this when progesterone is too low in this phase.

The beauty of seed cycling is it can be helpful in any stage of a woman’s life, including post-menopause. It’s most beneficial for those who are looking to reduce PMS symptoms or are suffering from a lack of menstruation (amenorrhea), irregular cycles, acne, menstrual cramps, or anovulation, but great for those looking to balance their sex hormones overall. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as the vitamin E content in all of these seeds are beneficial for improving skin health and reducing inflammation in the body at any age.

How much do I take?

I recommend using raw seeds and, grinding them up, and taking 1-2 tbsp each day according to which half of your menstrual cycle you’re in. You can grind them all at once and keep them in two separate jars in the fridge. I add them to smoothies, smoothie bowls, banana bread, granola, avocado toast, or try them in my delicious seed cycling chocolate bliss balls. Once you’ve tried it for a full cycle, you would start right over again for the next.

Will I actually notice a difference?

Now for the big question: will you actually see a smoother menstrual cycle after taking these seeds? It’s important to note that there isn’t ample science to support that it actually works today. However, I have tried this myself and have a few clients that have reported fewer mood swings, acne breakouts, cramps, and cravings. Though not rooted in science, there’s no harm in trying it if you’re interested in getting more fiber, healthy fats, and nutrients in your diet. I also find it helpful for ensuring you’re getting a healthy dose of fats in. Keep in mind that seed cycling is not a magical, cure-all solution, but goes together with eating nutrient dense foods, controlling stress levels, and exercising regularly. If you’re interested in exercising according to your cycle, be sure to check out my recommendations here. I do believe in cycle synching and have seen the benefits of this in many clients who consistently work on this. It usually takes a few months to see results, but as with all wellness practices, you want to make sure you don’t just try this in isolation. A holistic approach to hormone balance requires actively working on your gut health, stress levels, and metabolic health as well.

If you try nothing else, I would highly recommend making these no-bake seed cycling chocolate bliss balls. They satisfy all the chocolate cravings and have helped me snack less. They’re nutrient dense, got that salty-sweet thing going on, and are a great treat with ample protein, fiber, and fat, for whether you want to seed cycle or not.

I’d love to know what your thoughts on this topic are! Send me a message or leave a comment with your feedback!

 

 

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