When it comes to regulating a woman’s menstruation cycle, there are many variables at play. What does your diet look like? Are you exercising regularly? How often do you take vitamins? These are some questions your doctor may ask, if were you to seek advice about irregular periods. But there’s a new trendy approach on the block, and science says it can balance your estrogen/progesterone hormones. Seedling (AKA seed cycling) is the rotation of seeds (yes, actual, consumable seeds) at different points of a woman’s cycle, that can help women experiencing PMS, heavy flows, menopause, and fertility issues. Read on for more about this food-based technique and learn why you should incorporate seeds into your diet.
How Does Seed Cycling Work?
Before you integrate seeds into your diet, it’s important to understand your period and the hormones that make your cycle come full circle. Spoiler alert: a woman’s cycle lasts approximately 28 days, from the first day of their period to the first day of their next period. In a healthy cycle, estrogen rises during the first phase while progesterone rises and estrogen declines during the second phase.
Imbalance between these hormones is what causes PMS, cramps, irregular cycles, short lutealuteal phases and more. Not enough estrogen causes a thin uterine lining for ovulation and embryo implantation, which results in fertility issues. Too much estrogen, on the other hand, can result in endometriosis, depression, and irregularity. Seed cycling can help your body naturally re-balance these hormone levels for healthy ovulation and menstruation by incorporating phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen) into your diet that bind up excess hormones and provide the building blocks for hormone production.
There are four menstruation phases (pre-ovulatory, ovulatory, premenstrual and menstrual), but for this approach, we’re only focusing on two timeframes: days 1-13 and days 14-28, within the follicular and luteal stages.
Estrogen Boost: Days 1-13 (follicular phase)
During this phase, estrogen should be increasing in order to build a uterine lining (for a possible pregnancy) and so an egg can mature for ovulation, which occurs on day 14. Holistic Health Coach Naomi Krohner advises women to consume one tablespoon of flaxseeds (high in lignans which supports healthy estrogen production) and one tablespoon of pumpkin seeds (high in omega 3 and zinc which prepares the body for progesterone production) daily from the first day of your period till the 13th day of your cycle.
Progesterone Boost: Day 14-28 (luteal phase)
During this phase, progesterone levels should begin to rise steadily while keeping estrogen in check. “It’s important to regulate healthy progesterone levels for reproductive health. We want to focus on omega 6s that reduce body inflammation related to PMS,” says Krohner. In comes sunflower seeds high in omega 6s (which modulate both hormones) and sesame seeds that are high in selenium and omega 6s (which support liver function that prevents excess hormones). This regulation results in proper hormone excretion that otherwise may have been irregular.
Who Can Benefit From Seedling?
According to Jolene Brighton, NMD, women struggling with symptoms of PMS, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), post-birth control syndrome (PBCS), irregular periods, acne, and breast tenderness benefit from adding seed cycling to their routine. Even menopausal women can benefit from eating sunflower seeds by following the moon cycle in lieu of a menstrual cycle. In Chinese herbology, making herbs from seeds to generate ‘seeds’ and support fertility, dates back thousands of years ago.
The best part is, you don’t have to eat seeds raw. Throw them in granola, sprinkle them on salads, or bake them in a breakfast bar. The possibilities (and benefits!) are endless when it comes to this ‘food is medicine’ approach to hormonal regulation. Get your period back on track with these tasty companions guiding you through your cycle.