Have you heard about seed cycling?
If not, in a nutshell, seed cycling is a tool used to help regulate your hormones.
It is an amazing, yet gentle tool that I have taught to many of my clients to help them balance their hormones– no matter what stage they are in (period problems during their reproductive years, pre-pregnancy/ enhancing fertility, post-hormonal birth control, postpartum, pre-menopause, or even post-menopause).
Personally, I just started seed cycling (again), because I finally weaned Hendrix completely a few months ago and with that, my period returned.
My welcome gift for it is to seed cycle, because yeah, that’s the kind of dork I am LOL
My first cycle lasted over 40 days, which is not unusual for it being the first one after pregnancy and nursing completes.
I am now using seed cycling specifically to support proper estrogen and progesterone production during the different phases of my cycle.
Proper hormone production (and detoxification of hormone metabolites) is essential for your cycle to be of optimal length, but also for your period to be normal aka. not painful, overly heavy, emotional, moody, or accompanied by fatigue, PMS, cravings, breast tenderness, cysts, weight gain/fluctuation or headaches (these are all symptoms of a hormonal imbalance).
What’s the principle behind seed cycling?
First you have to understand that your cycle goes through 4 phases: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, and the luteal phase. Each phase is accompanied by a shift in your hormones.
THE MENSTRUAL PHASE:
Day 1 of your period is considered day 1 of your cycle and marks the beginning of your menstrual phase. This phase lasts until your bleeding subsides (usually after 3-7 days). During this time your body sheds the uterine lining and all of your hormones are at a low point.
THE FOLLICULAR PHASE:
This phase begins after your period ends and lasts for about 7-10 days. Your body is starting to stimulate your follicles to ripen a bunch of eggs so that one egg can be ready to be released during ovulation. During this phase, primarily ESTROGEN (think: the juicy hormone) is running the show. As a result, you also feel more out-going, energized, and sexyyyyyy.
THE OVULATORY PHASE:
This phase is the shortest and usually only lasts for 3-4 days. It is during this phase that you are the most fertile because is it when you ovulate/ release an egg that is ready to be fertilized.
THE LUTEAL PHASE:
The longest of all phase, this phase usually lasts for 10-14 days and is marked by PROGESTERONE. If estrogen is the juicy hormone, I want you to think of progesterone as the calming hormone that also aids in sleep. Your womb is getting ready to host a baby if an egg was fertilized that month and your uterine lining thickens as a result. With progesterone increasing your temperature rises, which is how women who are tracking their cycles by taking their basal body temperature in the morning, can tell that they have ovulated successfully that month. During this time, you are more likely to feel more introverted, thoughtful and in need to rest.
Now, you know that estrogen runs the show for roughly the first half of your cycle, while progesterone is the main act during the second half of your cycle.
Or, at least, that is what you ideally want to have happen in a regular, healthy cycle.
The concept behind seed-cycling is that certain seeds have properties that enhance estrogen production, while other seeds aid progesterone production. By cycling them according to where you are in your particular cycle, you can aid proper hormone production. Cool, right?
How seed-cycling works:
(Let’s assume you have a 30 day cycle for ease of explanation)
FROM DAY 1 TO DAY 15:
Focus on consuming estrogen boosting seeds such as flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds. Aim for 1 tbsp per day of flaxseeds and 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds per day.
*Note: Many women who are estrogen dominant wonder if consuming estrogen boosting foods like flaxseeds makes sense for them. The answer is that not all estrogen is made equal. In a nutshell, the estrogen that tends to be high in estrogen-dominant women is estradiol, also known as E2 (this has also been linked to breast and prostate cancer). Flaxseed, however, does not only suppress E2 production, but it also moves estradiol metabolism into a positive direction, which is good news.)
FROM DAY 16 TO DAY 30:
Focus on progesterone boosting seeds like sesame and sunflower seeds. Sesame is high in zinc, while sunflower is rich in Vitamin E. Both support progesterone production which is low in many women (especially in those dealing with anxiety, excessive stress, trouble conceiving or staying pregnant). Aim for 1 tbsp per day of sunflower seeds and 1 tbsp of sesame seeds per day.
Pretty easy and straight forward, AND effective, gentle, cheap, and natural! Yay.
In the comments below, let me know: have you tried seed-cycling? Has been helpful for you? What hormonal imbalance are you suspecting you have and would you try seed-cycling?