In a perfectly healthy female body, there is a natural balance of two hormones: oestrogen and progesterone. However, daily environmental and lifestyle stressors can cause women’s hormones to become out of balance.
Maintaining hormonal balance can support female bodies in many ways, such as regulating periods, minimising PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms and increasing fertility. Seed cycling is an inexpensive, gentle and natural way to support the female body in maintaining this necessary hormonal balance.
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling uses the concept of food as healing, where different seeds are consumed at different phases of the menstrual cycle to support the hormones needed during those phases. It’s simple, natural, and easy to do.
There are four seeds used in seed cycling: flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame. These seeds are paired together and consumed during two main phases of the menstrual cycle. Seed cycling can be used to boost oestrogen levels in the first half of your cycle and progesterone levels in the second half.
The phases of the menstrual cycle
The two main phases of a menstrual cycle are follicular and luteal, which repeat each menstrual cycle.
The first phase is the follicular phase (menstrual and follicular phases combined in the four-phase methodology). During this phase, the female body needs a boost of the hormone oestrogen as it prepares to release the healthiest egg possible for fertilisation.
The second phase is the luteal phase (ovulatory and luteal phases in the four-phase methodology). The female body needs a boost of the hormone progesterone during this phase. Progesterone prepares the uterus to implant a fertilised egg and initiate pregnancy. If the egg has not been fertilised and implanted, the body releases it and your next period begins.
How to seed cycle
First, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of your menstrual cycles so you can identify when your body is in each phase. This can be achieved through tracking your menstrual cycle using smartphone apps or with a calendar (though the calendar method can require more time and effort).
A typical menstrual cycle is 28 days, so the two phases are each 14 days long. If your menstrual cycle is less than or greater than 28 days, you’ll want to start the follicular phase on the first day of your period and continue until the day you ovulate. Women’s cycles can last between 21-35 days, so don’t worry if yours isn’t always 28 days.
The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period. During the follicular phase, you will consume 1 tablespoon each of flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds can be ground fresh each day to aid in digestion. Seeds oxidate and lose nutrients quickly when they’re ground, so grinding fresh is important. Pumpkin seeds can be eaten whole or ground.
The luteal phase will begin on day 15 (or the day after ovulation) and continue through day 28 (or stop on the day your period starts). During the luteal phase, you will consume 1 tablespoon each of sunflower and sesame seeds. These seeds can be eaten ground or eaten whole.
It can take some women 2-3 months to see positive results from seed cycling, so try to be patient and consistent.
Top tips for successful seed cycling:
- Use raw seeds, organic if possible
- Purchase in bulk
- Store seeds in a cool, dark place (in an airtight container in the refrigerator works well)
- To support easier digestion, grind your seeds
- Grind your seeds fresh (store ground seeds in the freezer if you’re not able to grind fresh)
- Very, very lightly toast seeds if desired (toasting too long or burning can greatly reduce natural health benefits)
- Use seed butters, such as tahini, as another option
- Add seeds to smoothies, oats or porridge, sprinkle on salads, soup or pasta