We practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that food is medicine that you eat three or more times a day. This is the theory behind something called seed cycling, a practice to help boost your reproductive health. If you’ve never heard of seed cycling, you’re not alone. However, if you’re looking for a natural way to help balance your hormones, seed cycling may be worth your attention. That’s because seeds are rich in nutrients that can impact your hormones. It involves eating different combinations of seeds during different phases of your menstrual cycle as a way to balance estrogen and progesterone.
The goal behind seed cycling is to support estrogen levels during the first phase of your cycle, your follicular phase, and then boost progesterone during the second, your luteal phase. By balancing these important reproductive hormones, it’s believed that seed cycling can help regulate your menstrual cycle, reduce PMS symptoms, improve fertility, and help ease conditions, such as PCOS and endometriosis.
Here’s how it works:
- The first phase of your cycle, the follicular phase, usually lasts from the first day of your period, about day 14. Ovulation marks the end of your follicular phase and the beginning of your luteal phase. During phase one, eat a tablespoon of ground flax seeds and a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds each day.
- The second phase of your cycle is called the luteal phase, which begins about day 15 until the first day of your next period. During this time, you eat a tablespoon of sunflower seeds and a tablespoon of sesame seeds each day.
The theory behind seed cycling is that the different kinds of seeds can promote or subdue the level of certain hormones. During the follicular phase of your cycle, flax seeds are eaten to boost phytoestrogens, which help balance the amount of estrogen in your system. Flax seeds also contain lignans, which can bind to and excrete estrogen from your body if the amounts are too high. Elevated estrogen levels during the second phase of your cycle can cause or aggravate PMS. Pumpkin seeds are also on the menu during this first phase of your cycle, because they contain high levels of zinc, which promotes progesterone levels needed in the second phase of your cycle.
During the second phase of your cycle, the luteal phase, you switch to sunflower seeds, because they’re high in vitamin E, which supports progesterone levels. You also eat sesame seeds during this time for the zinc and selenium they contain. This helps detox excess estrogen.
When you’re eating the seeds, they can be ground up into your favorite smoothie, or you can top your yogurt, oatmeal, or salad with them. However, the seeds should be organic and eaten raw. If you cook or toast them, it can alter the nutrients and fats they contain. Also, when you grind up the seeds, eat them right away or freeze them to protect their nutrients. Ground flax is particularly sensitive, if you grind them in advance make sure they are kept in a solid bag or container that does not allow the contents to be exposed to light.
Who knew that eating the right seeds at the right time might be the key to balancing your hormones? If you’re dealing with reproductive health issues, seed cycling might just be the solution.
Contact us at BodaHealth if you have questions about seed cycling and hormone balancing.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.