Welcome back! In case you missed Part One, I covered the basics on seed cycling, a naturopathic practice that can help to regulate women’s hormones by consuming four types of seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower) at different phases of the menstrual cycle.
While there haven’t been any official studies on seed cycling’s impact on balancing hormones, we can look at the science behind your monthly cycle and the seeds themselves:
Hormone imbalances can manifest themselves in different ways. PMS, headaches, sudden mood changes, breast tenderness, and even spotting before your period may all seem common, but they could be signs of an underlying hormone issue. Other signs and symptoms include acne, irregular menstrual cycles, hair loss, insomnia, and menstrual cramps -- the things we dread.
Specifically, if your body isn’t producing enough estrogen or progesterone during your monthly cycle, eating the right seeds can help to stimulate hormone production and balance your levels naturally. Because different seeds contain different nutrients, vitamins, and fatty acids, eating the right seeds at the right time gives your body what it needs for healthy hormone function.
Here’s how our four types of seeds work together in a seed cycling practice:
Flax seeds contain phytoestrogens, which can help stimulate estrogen levels when your body isn’t producing enough. Interestingly, the lignans found in flax seeds can also help to remove excess estrogen if you have too much. Double the benefit, especially with the biological and hormonal differences amongst women.
Ideally, the flax seeds will be raw and freshly ground for easier digestion and maximum nutritional value.
Pumpkin seeds also contain lignans, which bind to estrogen and remove it from the body. But they’re also high in zinc (about 15% of your daily value!), which may help reduce menstrual cramps. Cramps can be caused by excess prostaglandins, and zinc is effective in reducing the metabolism of prostaglandins.
Like flax seeds, you’ll want to use raw, freshly ground pumpkin seeds for your daily dose. You can combine the pumpkin seeds with the flax seeds in a blender, then add to a protein shake, cup of yogurt, or salad.
In the second half of your menstrual cycle (Day 14 up until your period), you’ll switch from flax and pumpkin seeds to a blend of sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds have a higher concentration of lignans compared to flax seeds (834 mg to 294 mg) and can mimic or prevent estrogen activity, depending on the dose.
Sesame seeds are also rich in Vitamin E, which is essential for reproductive health. One study found that taking sesame seeds daily over a five-week period increased the production of certain sex hormones and Vitamin E levels.
Sunflower seeds are also high in Vitamin E. Some studies suggest that increasing Vitamin E stimulates progesterone production, which should naturally rise in the second phase of the menstrual cycle.
When taken at the right time during your cycle, these four seeds can help you balance your hormones naturally. You should notice a difference in terms of mood, energy, period symptoms (or lack of symptoms), and other small but powerful changes.
Coming up in our third and final part in this series, we’re going to dive into the step-by-step process for seed cycling, along with recipes and ways to make seed cycling a habit.
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