So many of my nutritional therapy clients come to me for a nutritional plan to fix many of their issues with periods and fertility and I can draw up a detailed meal plan with the exact nutritional requirements suitable for them. They are so excited, we talk about it and they go home and maybe try a meal from it on day 1.
They may even do three days worth of meals but eventually they all fall off the wagon. The thing is that making drastic changes to your nutritional routines, are very unlikely to be lasting or sustainable.
Instead, it is great to focus on small changes that we can build into our routine over time. Seed cycling is great for this as it is so simple, once you know where in your cycle you are (or what phase the moon is in if you aren't cycling). All you have to do is eat a tablespoon of seeds a day. Which seeds are specific to which stage in your cycle you are in.
So Why Will Eating Seeds Balance My Hormones?
Certain seeds are thought to help to support the body to make the right hormones at the right point in the cycle. Unfortunately there is no research on the seed cycling protocol, however, one of the reasons it is so popular is that it has worked, anecdotally at least, for many women, including myself and a number of my clients, friends and colleagues.
There are some studies on various seeds that talk about their benefits to our cycles. If you need a crash course on the phases of your cycle, check out this blog post.
There is this study (Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle, Phipps et al, 1993, Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism) that shows that supplementing a regular diet with powdered flax seeds, their progesterone to oestrogen ratios improved. This ratio is key to ensuring you don't become oestrogen dominant (read more about oestrogen dominance here). There were also less anovulatory cycles in the group that supplemented, meaning more women who consumed flaxseed powder ovulated.
There has also been some research showing flaxseeds can improve menopausal symptoms (The effects of flaxseed on menopausal symptoms and quality of life, Cetisli et al, 2015, Holistic Nursing Practice).
Seeds in general also contain fats and fibre, two great things for building hormones and excreting excess hormones once they have been used.
There is no guarantee that one protocol on its own will balance your hormones, however, there are many benefits to seed cycling and combined with a healthy, whole food, plant based diet, regular exercise and stress management which can lead to better hormonal and fertile health.
Who Can This Help?
This protocol can be beneficial to anyone with:
Irregular or absent cycles.
Heavy or painful periods.
Anyone with cycle issues such as a luteal phase defects.
Women who should be having periods but aren't.
Women who have recently come off the pill.
Women looking to prepare for menopause.
Women with known hormonal imbalances or issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, PCOS, insulin resistance, testosterone imbalance.
What Does It Involve?
The protocol involves eating a tablespoon of ground seeds each day, but which seeds you eat depend on where you are in your cycle. If you don't currently have a cycle, you can work with the phases of the moon.
You can start exploring and charting your cycle with the free cycle charting kit on the "Free stuff" page if you don't know when you ovulate.
The protocol is as follows:
Menstruation - Ovulation/New Moon To Full Moon
1 Tablespoon of Flax Seeds or Pumpkin Seeds
Ovulation - Menstruation/Full Moon To New Moon
1 Tablespoon of Sesame or Sunflower Seeds
Yep - it really is that simple. But note, you can't substitute the seeds for oil, you need the actual seeds, firstly because the fibre is so useful but secondly, the oils tend to be inflammatory in nature, which is not what we are aiming with this protocol.
Who Is This Not Suitable For?
As with all nutritional changes, you should check with your doctor to check for any issues. However there are some people this challenge isn't suitable for:
If you are allergic to the seeds or have any reaction to them.
If your doctor says you are not a suitable candidate for this protocol.
If any of the seeds clash with your medications (check with your doctor, pharmacist or the patient information safety leaflet that came with your medications).
If you are breastfeeding.
If you become pregnant (or think it is a possibility), stick to phase 2 until your bleed returns or stop the protocol.
Anyone who thinks this is a magic bullet for their hormonal issues and isn't willing to look at their stress, sleep, nutrition and exercise choices at all.
Are You Up For It?
I will be hosting a seed cycling challenge over the Summer with both my e-mail list and Facebook group. If you want in, then you need to either sign up to the Free cycle charting kit on my free stuff page or through my online school for free http://periodwhisperer.teachable.com/courses/seed-cycling
Find out more about Your Menstrual Cycle Here
Find out more about Oestrogen Dominance Here
Find out more how Stress Affects Your Cycle Here
Find out how Sleep Affects Your Cycle Here