Using Seeds To Balance Your Menstrual Health

How Seeds Can Improve Your Hormone Balance and Menstrual Health

Using Seeds To Balance Your Menstrual Health | Naturopathic Dr

You may have heard the term ‘seed cycling’ before and been curious about what it is and if it actually works.

As it gains popularity, more and more people are looking into the effects this practice can have on a women’s health, specifically hormones and menstrual health.

Do you think you might want to try it, but you’re not sure where to start? Let me help you.

In this article, I’ll explain how seed cycling works with your body to promote menstrual and hormone health.

Understanding Your Cycle

For years, you’ve had a menstrual cycle. But how much do you really know about how your body works?

It’s incredible the things that go on inside our bodies without our knowledge. And though we feel the effects, we often don’t know the root causes.

For example, though PMS is a common issue, we shouldn’t be experiencing it. We deal with these issues as a result of hormone imbalance, but we can combat and, in some cases, completely get rid of PMS.

Using Seeds To Balance Your Menstrual Health | Naturopathic Dr

Your menstrual cycle is a complex system within your body, lasting for 28 days on average. By understanding what happens during your cycle, you can tailor your behaviors to keep your body healthy and in balance.

Week 1

Many women think that their periods are the culmination of the menstrual cycle, but your cycle actually begins on the first day of your period.

While you have your period, you may be feeling the effects of PMS much less, or those symptoms could have disappeared entirely.

Your estrogen levels are low at the beginning of this phase, but they rise steadily throughout the week in preparation for ovulation.

Although it’s common for a period to last anywhere from 2 to 7 days, it should only be lasting about 3 days. In addition, it should consist of light to medium flow.

A longer or heavier period is a sign that you may be out of balance. By getting your body back in balance, you can reduce the length and flow of your period.

Week 2

Your period should have ended by now, and, as a result, your mood has likely stabilized.

Your estrogen levels are still rising, which means that you may be experiencing a boost in serotonin, the feel-good hormone. You probably feel more confident, outgoing, and optimistic at this time.

Near the end of this week, your estrogen reaches an all-time high. Your libido is higher at this time as well, so if you’re feeling flirty, it’s because your body wants you to find a mate.

This surge of hormones results in ovulation on day 14 when a mature egg is released for fertilization.

Week 3

After ovulation, your estrogen levels begin to decrease, and progesterone rises.

Progesterone’s primary goal is to strengthen the endometrium (the uterine lining) to help a fertilized egg implant successfully.

The imbalance of these two hormones may be the cause of any breast tenderness you experience.

A mature egg has a lifespan of about one day, and if it isn’t fertilized, it dissolves.

By day 20, if an egg hasn’t implanted, then your estrogen and progesterone levels drop. This reduction in hormones can cause some women to experience PMS symptoms, such as anger, irritability, and sadness. This is generally known as estrogen dominance.

Week 4 

PMS can begin anywhere from a few days to two weeks before your period. During this week, you’ll be feeling the effects.  

For example, your low estrogen levels may cause you to crave carbohydrates, in an attempt to increase serotonin. So don’t be surprised by all of those sugar cravings.

And the closer you get to your period, the more your body produces prostaglandins. These help your uterus to contract, causing those cramps you may be feeling.

The end of this week marks the last few days of your cycle. Now your body is ready to begin again.

The rise and fall of your hormones may cause a few issues for you over the course of a month. But, if you choose to start seed cycling, these issues may soon be a thing of the past.

What is Seed Cycling?

Using Seeds To Balance Your Menstrual Health | Naturopathic Dr

So what is seed cycling anyway and what can it do for you?

Seed cycling is the practice of incorporating certain seeds into your diet during the different phases of your menstrual cycle in order to regulate your hormones.

It can have an incredible effect on women’s health and can help balance hormones. Many women who have tried it say that it helped reduce the effects of PMS and perimenopause. For women with amenorrhea, it can induce your period and make it more regular.

Seed cycling may also help with fertility issues and support the healing of ovarian cysts, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and endometriosis.

This practice corresponds with the follicular and luteal phases of your period.

Keep in mind, this practice will not change your body overnight. Most women won’t see results until after three or four cycles in, so be patient and let the magic of food as medicine do its work.

The Follicular Phase

The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and lasts until ovulation. While for most women, this takes up to 16 days, this phase should take 14 days.

This phase is marked by rising estrogen levels and relatively low progesterone levels.

During the Follicular Phase, you should eat 1 tablespoon of flax seeds and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds each day. Flaxseed should be ground up, but pumpkin seeds can be ingested whole or ground up.

The Luteal Phase

The Luteal phase begins after ovulation and lasts the duration of your menstrual cycle, or until the first day of your next period. A normal luteal phase can last about 12-14 days for most women.

Your luteal phase is considered short if you begin your period less than ten days after ovulation, which may be a sign of infertility.

During the Luteal Phase, you switch to 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds daily. These can both be eaten whole or ground up.

Many women’s cycles are either a little longer or shorter than 28 days; in this case, in an attempt to regulate your cycle, you can use seed cycling. Regardless of how long or short your cycle is, take the follicular seeds on days 1 through 14. Then, begin taking the luteal seeds on day 15 of your cycle and stop on day 28. 

Seed Cycling During and With Menopause or Amenorrhea

Menopausal and postmenopausal women can still use seed cycling for hormone health. And if you have irregular periods, or miss your periods for months at a time (amenorrhea), you can still use seed cycling as well.

You may not be able to follow seed cycling based on the first day of your period, but there is another way to do it.

Did you know that older civilizations believed that women’s menstrual cycles were in tune with the phases of the moon? Think about it. Both a woman’s cycle and the moon cycle lasts 28 days.

According to their beliefs, when a woman’s body is in balance, her period will begin around the time of the new moon and ovulation will occur around the full moon.

Well, recent scientific research has looked into these beliefs and found that these older civilizations may not have been too far off.

If you can’t use your period as a marker for your follicular phase, then begin on the day of the next new moon. Switch to your luteal stage during the full moon.

How to Incorporate It

These four seeds can be incorporated into your everyday life seamlessly.

Flax seeds should be ground up, but pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds can be eaten whole.

Buying them raw and organic also offers more health benefits than buying pre-ground seeds.

Flax seeds can be blended into a smoothie, mixed in with oatmeal or yogurt bowls, or baked into bread. Pumpkin seeds also go well with yogurt bowls.

Sunflower and sesame seeds are both delicious when mixed into a salad. Sesame seeds can also be turned into tahini, which can be used as a salad dressing, and goes well with toast or raw veggies.

Does It Work?

Now that you know how to seed cycle, you may be wondering – does it actually work?

Unfortunately, no studies have been done on the practice of seed cycling. But there have been studies done on the health benefits of each of these seeds individually.

Flax seeds contain omega-3, a type of fatty acid that your body needs but cannot produce on its own.

Using Seeds To Balance Your Menstrual Health | Naturopathic Dr

Omega-3 helps prevent excess estrogen, which can be cause for menstrual difficulties like PMS, fertility problems, and endometriosis. Excess estrogen may also indicate a higher risk of breast cancer.

Studies show that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the effects of PCOS.

Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and support the production of progesterone, which is necessary for an egg to implant and can help with fertility issues.

Sesame seeds contain phytoestrogens and can be helpful when estrogen drops, especially during menopause. They also may help with symptoms of low estrogen, like hot flashes, for example.

And sunflower seeds are high in selenium, which is essential for maintaining your hormone balance, as well as your immune system and metabolism.

There may be no studies on seed cycling as a whole, but each of these seeds is incredible for women’s health individually.

Ready to Try It?

Using Seeds To Balance Your Menstrual Health | Naturopathic Dr

Seed cycling has become a popular form of care as more and more people discover the healing benefits of the food we choose to put into our bodies.

If you struggle with menstrual difficulties or hormone imbalance, seed cycling can be a natural and cost-effective way to heal your body.

Many women have tried and seen the benefits of it, and they can attest to its healing power.

Do you have more questions about seed cycling or women’s health in general? Make an appointment today, and we’ll start you on the road to a better life!

About The Author:

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Threlkel received her degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The National College for Naturopathic Medicine (now called The National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon. She also holds a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland. She is licensed in Naturopathic Medicine by the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Threlkel is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, past president & current member of the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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