Seed Cycling: Using Food As Medicine To Balance Your Hormones
By: Dr. Kim Hansen, ND
Attention, ladies! Do you struggle with irregular menstrual cycles? Hormonal acne? PCOS? Infertility? PMS? Low hormones due to menopausal changes? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, seed cycling may be the missing link to helping you balance your hormones naturally. Most women have been told that they need to take a birth control pill in order to regulate their menstrual cycle. Seed cycling is a simple and effective alternative method that will help to encourage natural hormone production and detoxification in order to reestablish our body’s natural monthly hormonal rhythm.
How does it work?
Seed cycling, also known as seed rotation, helps to rebalance hormones by promoting estrogen and progesterone production during particular times of your menstrual cycle when they would naturally rise. You start by eating ground flaxseed and pumpkin seeds from the first day of your period through ovulation, days 1-14 of your menstrual cycle. The flax and pumpkin seeds help to promote estrogen production and increase the ratio of beneficial 2-hydroxyestrone to harmful 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone estrogen metabolites. The lignans found in these seeds also help to bind excess estrogens and remove them from the body. After ovulation, the body starts to produce progesterone from day 15 until day 28-30 when we typically have our menstrual bleed. This is when you switch to daily sunflower and sesame seed intake to promote progesterone production. These seeds provide zinc and selenium, along with essential fatty acids and vitamin E to increase progesterone levels.
Why do some women have irregular menses when others don’t?
The regularity of our menstrual cycles depends on several different factors. Typically our estrogen and progesterone rise and fall at the appropriate times throughout our cycles without any intervention and we have normal 28-30 day menstrual cycles. However, this is not the case for most women of reproductive age today. Lifestyle factors like stress, exposure to environmental toxins, food sensitivities, alcohol and coffee consumption, poor digestion, and poor diets consisting of hormone laden meats and processed foods can lead to the dysregulation of natural hormone production, causing some women to have irregular periods or no periods at all.
Why is this important?
Many of us have experienced symptoms of hormone imbalance. Issues such as irregular cycles, painful periods, infertility, fibroids, PCOS, PMS, acne, tender breasts, weight gain, and mood swings are all very common in our world today and many women are suffering through them daily due to hormone dysregulation. These issues are not normal and they can be improved once we achieve the correct hormone balance. Seed cycling is a non-invasive and cost effective strategy to help restore our own natural hormone production.
How do I start the seed rotation?
Use this guide below to start adding seeds to your diet at the appropriate times. You can incorporate them into a smoothie, soup, salad, oatmeal, or any other food of your choosing. Make sure to grind the seeds daily or grind up a weeks worth of seeds and store them in the fridge in an air tight container for no longer than 1 week.
Days 1-14 of cycle (follicular phase)
- 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 1 tbsp ground pumpkin seeds
- 1200 – 1500 mg EPA/DHA
Days 15-30 of cycle (luteal phase)
- 1 tbsp ground sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp ground sunflower seeds
- 500 mg Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)
Here’s a chart to help visualize the monthly seed cycling rotation:
When should I start my seed rotation?
The time in which you choose to start seed cycling depends on your current hormone status:
– women with monthly cycles – start on day 1 of your cycle (first day of your period)
– women with infrequent or no periods: start day 1 on the first day of the new moon
– perimenopausal and postmenopausal women: start any day and do each seed rotation for 2 weeks. Repeat monthly
How long will it take to see results?
It typically takes a few cycles of the seed rotation to notice an effect. You should definitely notice a decrease in your symptoms after 3-4 months of seed cycling. This may seem like a long time, but just remember that your hormone imbalance didn’t happen overnight. It takes time to reestablish hormone balance but the benefits you gain will be long lasting.
Remember – anyone can benefit from seed cycling, no matter where you are in your hormonal journey. From teenagers just starting their periods, to postpartum mamas, and up through menopause, this can be a great natural way to reestablish optimum hormone production and regulation. Get started today!
Cheers to happy hormones!
~ Kim Hansen, ND
Like variety? Try this recipe on your flaxseed and pumpkin seed days:
Estrogen Boosting Crackers
Prep time: 13 hours
Cook time: 6 hours
Total time: 19 hours
Equipment: thermometer, parchment paper and 18’ x 13’ baking tray
Author: Magdalena Wszelaki
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup flaxseed
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup dried apples, roughly chopped
- 1 cup roasted coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
How To Make
- Soak almonds for 12 hours.
- Soak flaxseed and pumpkin seeds in 3 cups of water for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 150F or the lowest temperature your oven allows. The trick to keeping the temperature low (ideally in the range of 120 to 150F) is to leave the oven door ajar. This will prevent the crackers from burning and will create air circulation to dry the crackers.
- Strain all the excess water from the almonds and combine with all the remaining ingredients. Toss to mix them well.
- Line the baking tray with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly.
- Bake for 6 hours or until fully dried. It’s recommended to check your crackers regularly using the thermometer to be sure they are getting dried but not burned. If the oven gets too hot, just open the oven door slightly wider. I use a metal tool (like a can opener) to keep the oven door ajar. The second batch will be easier to make as you will know how to keep the oven temperature in the 120-150F range.
- These crackers store well for two weeks in an airtight container.
Dr. Hansen is a naturopathic doctor who is interested in providing her patients with personalized health care using a mix of herbal and conventional modalities. Her practice focuses largely on women’s health with a specialty in hormone management. Dr. Hansen strives to help women rebalance their hormones, from regulating menstrual cycles to ensuring a smooth transition into menopause via use of herbal treatments as well as bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.