2020 opened my eyes to the fascinating world of medicinal foods. Ok that sounds extreme for incorporating certain seeds into my diet at certain times of the month but that’s exactly what seed cycling is. Pumpkin, Flax, Sesame and Sunflower seeds to be exact. Rumour has it it can help ease a number of hormone related conditions including PMS. Does it work? The scientific evidence is non-existent, yet having come off the pill 10 months prior and being affected by mood swings, anxiety and itchy break outs I was willing to try absolutely anything to not feel utterly crap in that week before my period. Seed cycling sounded like a relatively harmless and cost efficient method to start with. Read on to see how I got on.
WHAT IS SEED CYCLING?
Seed Cycling is the practice of incorporating pumpkin, flax, sesame and sunflower seeds into your diet to help promote the healthy balance of oestrogen and progesterone to regulate your cycle. Your cycle is divided into two parts with different seeds being ingested at different times of the month to create this balance.
The First Phase: Weeks 1-2 (known as the Follicular Phase)
Pumpkin and Flax seeds are said to help regulate oestrogen in the first two weeks of your cycle (or from the first day of your period until the day before you ovulate which can vary for everyone).
The seeds should be consumed ground up and 1tbsp of each is to be had daily. The best way to disguise the seeds for me is to have them in smoothies at the start of each day. I also have a few recipe ideas below if you want some variety.
The Second Phase: Weeks 3-4 (known as the Luteal Phase)
Progesterone begins to rise after ovulation and then drops if conception does not occur bringing on your next period. This contributes to mood swings, headaches, acne and bloating (to name a few symptoms). Sesame and Sunflower seeds are consumed in the second phase of the menstrual cycle as they’re thought to both help regulate the progesterone.
HOW I GOT ON:
After four weeks of strict daily seed cycling I noticed a change in my moods. It wasn’t until after my period begun that I even realised how none of usual symptoms had surfaced in the dreaded week before. It’s going to be different for everyone and I’ll never know if it’s a placebo effect or if actually these seeds with huge nutritional benefits to women’s cycles has helped me regulate my once irregular (23-31 day) cycle to a steady 27 day cycle each month where I experience next to no symptoms I used to get. It’s SO difficult to pin it solely on seed cycling as lifestyle factors can of course contribute and with minimal evidence on seed cycling it’s not a guarantee, but I feel great and truly believe nutrition has a huge impact on our hormones and how we feel so I will absolutely continue seed cycling. It’s both nutritionally and emotionally beneficial at such a low cost, it’s a no brainer!
THINGS TO NOTE:
- You must grind the seeds up. For flaxseeds just buy milled flax and the others can be ground up at the start of the phase. I find it handy to grind and mix them and just take a 2 tbsp from each jar on the day they’re to be consumed. Super handy for sprinkling over porridge or a bagel.
- The time it takes for your hormones to feel like they’ve regulated can differ for everyone. Whilst I felt like I noticed a difference 4 weeks later, some people say it can take a couple of cycles to feel real effects.
- The timings (2 weeks for each phase of your cycle) in this article are based on an “average” cycle so it can be different for everyone. It’s best to work out your own cycle but as a rule of thumb you eat the pumpkin and flax seeds from day 1 of your period until the day before you ovulate and you eat the sunflower and sesame seeds from the day of ovulation until the day before your next period.
3 QUICK AND EASY BREAKFAST RECIPE INSPO WITH SEED CYCLING:
- Large handful of spinach
- ½ banana
- Handful of frozen mango
- Coconut Milk
- 2 Tsbp of either Pumpkin/Flax mix or Sunflower/Sesame mix
- Juice of 1 lime
- Squeeze of honey to sweeten
- ½ tsp Spriulina
Wholemeal bagel with peanut butter and seed mix.
Toasted coconut Porridge with peach, honey and seed mix.
- Cup of oats cooked in coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons of flaked coconut in a pan dry toasted until it turns golden sprinkled on top
- Add sliced peaches
- Seed cycling mix
- Drizzle of honey optional.