I absolutely love using my food as medicine, and passing this information onto clients is one of the cornerstones of how I work. I love seeing people be able to reduce medications or stop supplements and in turn be eating a diet that is optimal for their own health.
For women, hormonal conditions are more common than not unfortunately. A normal menstrual cycle shouldn't be painful or accompanied by any PMS symptoms, it should be a regular monthly cycle and not be to heavy. Unfortunately this is very rare to see, with most women that I treat in clinic having some form of pain or PMS with their period.
The interplay between oestrogen and progesterone is what sets the tone for how your menstrual cycle will occur.
At different times throughout the cycle we need the 2 hormones to be a certain levels and relative to one another. Within the menstrual cycle many processes take place. The development of a follicle which eventuates into an egg, which is then released by the ovary. The uterus lining is thickening this entire time to prepare for if the egg is fertilised and when it is not it sheds and this is known as the period. All of that happens within a 28 day (usually) cycle! With so many processes taking place you can see how easily things can go awry if the levels of oestrogen and progesterone are out even slightly.
While there are so many different factors that can effect the bodies hormones it can be hard to differentiate exactly what is the exact cause, and often it is a myriad of factors such as stress, nutrition, environmental toxin exposure, thyroid issues, the list goes on!
I often get asked about what people can do to help balance their hormones naturally, but because everyone is so different it can be hard to recommend something that is a general fix for hormonal imbalance. Plus if hormonal contraception is being used it can be even harder to treat.
ENTER seed cycling…
Seed cycling is the strategic way of using seeds to gently balance hormones within the body. It can often take a few months to see the full effects of seed cycling, but with consistent efforts severity of PMS, pain, or irregular periods should all even out.
You can split the entire menstrual cycle into various phases
1- menstruation phase (Day 1-5)
2- follicular phase (Day 1-14)
3- ovulation phase (Day 14)
4- luteal phase (Day 15-28)
In the follicular phase oestrogen levels should be rising and then after ovulation progesterone takes over as the main hormone being produced. So what we want to do is maintain these 2 hormones within both of the phases.
Therefore we split the month in half and consume certain seeds for the first 2 weeks and then swap to other seeds for the last 2 weeks.
1 tbsp flax
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
Flaxseeds are packed with essential fatty acids, vital for healthy hormone production, they are also packed with fibre, allowing better hormone balancing to occur.
Lignans are also found in flaxseeds, which act as a phytoestrogen, helping to modulate oestrogen within the body.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients such as zinc and magnesium, both of which are vital for healthy hormone production.
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds- Packed full of vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, essential fatty acids and fibre. Supporting the healthy hormone production, as well as helping other factors impacting hormones such as stress.
Sesame seeds: Rich in sulphur, magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin E. Sesame seeds help support healthy hormone production as well as supporting liver detoxification pathways, which is essential for maintaining healthy hormone levels.
Below are some tips for seed cycling
Grind your seeds and keep them in the fridge, this will enable the best absorption
Avoid grinding to many seeds and having them sitting in the fridge for to long- fresh is best
You can combine weeks 1 seeds and then week 2’s seeds in 2 seperate jars and then just add 2 tablespoons as you would normally.
Mix the ground seeds within smoothies, mixed through yogurt, over salads, mixed through porridge or anywhere really!
If you don't have a regular cycle and are finding it hard to pin point your cycle then starting day one on the new moon is a good place to start, as we know that the menstrual cycle can be impacted by the luna phases.
Image source: Move Nourish Believe