Seed Cycling has been around for many generations as a wise-woman tradition. I love that there is an easy way to use food as medicine, for balancing a woman's hormones. Using food for medicine is one of the fundamentals of naturopathy.
Seed cycling involves rotating certain types of seeds throughout the month to balance your hormones, and it is very simple!
It can be used by women of all age, from teenagers to post partum, menopausal, as well those who have amenorrhoea (when gaps between periods are extended).
The basics of seed cycling
Weeks 1 - 2 (from day 1 of your cycle, the first day of bleeding)
The follicular phase - where we want to increase healthy levels of oestrogen
Eat 1-2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds and raw pumpkin seeds each day.
Weeks 3 - 4 (from day 15, after ovulation)
The luteal phase, where we want to increase healthy levels of progesterone
Eat 1-2 tablespoons of freshly ground sunflower and sesame seeds each day.
It is as simple as that!
What specific symptoms can seed cycling help with?
Seed cycling may help with PMS symptoms such as bloating, mood swings, insomnia and breast tenderness. It may also help with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) symptoms such as hirsutism (male pattern hair growth on a woman), acne and hair loss. For older women in the peri- or menopausal stage it may help with symptoms such as night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms of low oestrogen.
So how do the seeds help with hormones?
The seeds contain fatty acids, fibre, phytoestrogens such as lignans that are weak forms of oestrogen which balance out oestrogen levels. They also contain minerals and vitamins which are the building blocks of healthy hormones.
When do I start the seed cycling if I have irregular periods, no period or are post menopausal?
Start with the flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds on the new moon, then switch to the sesame and sunflower mix on the full moon.
So how do I prepare the seeds?
It is always best to prepare fresh seeds so the fatty acids and phytoestrogens are at optimal levels. Ground seeds have an increased surface area for best absorption.
* sprinkle them on cereals, such as porridge, granola or chia puddings
* blend them into a smoothie
* sprinkle over salads
* add to raw baking such as bliss balls
* add them to dressings or nut butters
* add pumpkin seeds to a pesto mix
* add sunflower seeds to a tahini mix (sesame seeds)
Other reasons to include seeds in your daily diet: these seeds are all high in fibre, magnesium, manganese, health fats and which make them of benefit for general health and well being.
As with all remedies aimed at addressing hormones, slight improvements may be noticed with one full cycle, however it can take up to 3 months to notice a big effect. Track your cycle on a journal or App (such as period tracker, or Flo) to note how your symptoms are and keep track of any improvements.
Seed cycling can become a lifelong addition to your daily diet.
For women with complicated or long term health issues, seed cycling is best to be used in conjunction with other hormonal treatments (such as herbal medicine or specific supplements). We can also do some testing such as the DUTCH test or the MTHFR test. to assess what else is going on with your hormones or detoxification pathways.
Pumpkin + Flax Energy Bites (Days 1-14)
1c. pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. whole flax seed
3/4 c. pitted Medjool dates
1/4 c. almond or cashew butter
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4 c. coconut flakes
2 Tbsp. coconut flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
Add the pumpkin seeds to a high powered blender; pulse until flour forms, then remove to a bowl. To the same blender, add the flax seeds. Pulse until flax is ground, then add to a bowl with the pumpkin seeds.
Place the pitted dates, almond or cashew butter, and coconut oil into the bowl of a food processor. Puree until mostly smooth and creamy, then add the ground ground seeds, unsweetened coconut, coconut flour, cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt. Process, scraping down the sides, until a chunky mixture forms. The batter should easily roll into balls, but if it seems too dry, add 1 tablespoon of almond milk.
Roll the dough into balls, a little smaller than a golf ball. You should end up with about 14-16 balls. Roll each ball in extra cocoa powder if desired, then refrigerate in a sealed container. Store in the fridge up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months.