What is Seed Cycling?
Seed Cycling is the new buzzword when it comes to menstrual health - it’s believed to be a ‘magic pill’ to resolve hormonal imbalance, fertility, and improve symptoms of menopause. Before we move further, let’s first understand the meaning of this term.
As the name suggests, seed cycling is all about consuming a variety of seeds at different times of the month to balance certain hormones in your body. A naturopathic remedy, seed cycling helps in regulating estrogen in the first half of your menstrual cycle, and progesterone in the second half. Besides helping with your period issues, it is also said to improve acne, treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), infertility, endometriosis, and reduce menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, among others.
Some studies also suggest that it can improve thyroid hormone levels, quality of your hair, speed up weight loss, and resolve water retention.
How do you practice Seed Cycling?
Seed Cycling is quite simple - all you need to do is consume 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground flax and pumpkin seeds per day for the first half of the menstrual cycle, also known as the follicular phase. The luteal phase (second half of the cycle) requires you to take 1 tablespoon of ground sunflower and sesame seeds per day, until the first day of the next period cycle.
For those who are in their menopausal and postmenopausal stage, it is recommended to use the phases of the moon as a guide, with day one of the cycle coinciding with the new moon.
How does it work?
In a regular cycle, there is production of estrogen during the first 14 days of the follicular phase, as eggs in the ovaries become ripe. The levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) rise before ovulation, while estrogen levels show a decline after ovulation.
The luteal phase commences once the egg is released; this is when both progesterone and estrogen levels increase in the body to support implantation. In case there is no implantation, then these levels drop again before the next period.
While most women have a regular menstrual cycle, some face certain issues due to hormonal imbalance. An imbalance in hormones can have several causes, including PCOS, hypothyroidism, over-exercising, or even massive weight loss or gain.
During menopause, your hormones are anyway topsy-turvy, and both estrogen and progesterone levels show a steady decline. This puts you at a higher risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Thanks to Seed Cycling, hormonal imbalance can be treated. During the follicular phase, it is believed that flax seeds (hello phytoestrogens!) aid in increasing or decreasing estrogen levels. In addition, zinc in pumpkin seeds promote production of progesterone.
In the luteal phase, lignans found in sesame help in regulating estrogen (so that it does not rise beyond normal levels). Further, the Vitamin E in sunflower seeds boosts progesterone levels.
How does Seed Cycling balance hormones?
Studies suggest that Seed Cycling can help balance hormones through the actions of phytoestrogens from lignans. When you consume these seeds, the lignans get converted into enterolactone and enterodiol. These phytoestrogens then mirror the action of estrogen or hinder it, depending on your intake.
It is also believed that women who consume flax seeds on a regular basis have a longer luteal phase and do not suffer from severe cyclical breast pain.
Some seeds also show a positive impact on menopausal symptoms. For instance, flax seeds improve production of estrogen and help in reducing hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and enhance the quality of life. Besides, they also boast anti-cancer properties and are said to reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Benefits of Seed Cycling
While there is still insufficient research on Seed Cycling, consuming seeds on a regular basis is a great way to improve your quality of life. All the seeds - flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower - boast high quantities of fiber, manganese, magnesium, copper, and healthy fat. In a nutshell, they help you to boost vitality and keep illnesses at bay!