In a perfect world where women are healthy and feel great, the menstrual cycle and hormone production will happen naturally with no help or intervention – and many of the issues listed below would not exist.
- Irregular cycle
- Painful or heavy periods
- Tender breasts or menstrual headaches
- Mood swings or anxiety
- Not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Post-menopausal hormone symptoms
- Breast or ovarian cysts
- Breast or ovarian cancer
Unfortunately, in today’s world there are many factors working against healthy female hormones, including:
- High stress (leading to excess cortisol production)
- Environmental toxins
- Low-quality diet and sleep
- Digestive issues and food sensitivities
- High caffeine and alcohol consumption
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling is a systematic way of incorporating seeds into your diet to bring back the important balance of estrogen and progesterone for menstruating, menopausal and post-menopausal women. This simple food-based technique can help to reduce or eliminate many of the hormone related issues that women experience in as little as one or two months.
How seed cycling helped me
An irregular cycle, heavy periods, pimples and debilitating cramps were my “normal” for as long as I can remember …
Prior to 16 years old, my cycle was very unpredictable and my period cramps were debilitating, to the point where I had to call my mom and have her pick me up from school because I was in so much pain. Strong pain meds were the only thing that helped to relieve the pain.
My confidence took a hit when I was 14 and started to experience acne. I visited an acne clinic and tried every lotion and potion to help, but nothing seemed to work, so the clinic recommended that I try Accutane. Although Accutane did get rid of my acne, I later learned about the dangers of this medication and it’s long term side effects.
After finishing a course of Accutane, the clinic then recommended that I start on a birth control pill to prevent my acne from returning. As you can see, these doctors were well trained on how to slap one band-aid on top of another.
Being on the birth control pill did control my acne. It also regulated my cycle and significantly reduced my period cramps. BUT I eventually learned that the birth control pill was a band-aid solution to my problems and I was just masking my messed up hormones with a daily pill.
After 10 years of being on the pill, I made the educated decision to stop. When I stopped the pill, I realized just how messed up my hormones were. My cycle quickly shifted to being irregular (even more so than before the pill) and pimples started to pop up, AGAIN!
At the age of 26, I made some pretty big changes to my diet and lifestyle because of other health challenges I was facing at the time (learn more here). Cleaning up my diet and lifestyle helped to improve my hormones, but I was still missing something.
I didn’t prioritize my hormones at the time mainly because I didn’t realize the importance of them. In addition, my family physician considered my irregular cycle and symptoms as “normal” – and told me that I only need to worry about it if I want to have a baby. Basically, it wasn’t important for me to have healthy hormones and be fertile if I didn’t want kids. Knowing what I know now, this school of thinking is total BS.
A few years later, I came across some great leaders in female health and hormones and discovered seed cycling. Check out some great resources at the end of this article.
I can honestly say that seed cycling has been a game changer for me – and my hormones. Within one month of seed cycling, my cycle length changed from a wide range of 27-48 days to a consistent 28-31 days (you can see the change in the graph below).
I have to say, even more exciting then a regulated cycle was the change in my skin health. All those annoying pimples that would leave behind months of scarring on my face had all of a sudden stopped popping up. This was a pivotal moment for me – and my self-esteem.
I still experience period cramps, but they’re not disruptive like they use to be; and I now know how to manage my pain/discomfort with more natural approaches. That being said, I’m still working on further fixing my hormones so period cramps become a thing of the past.
How to seed cycle
If you’re menstruating, here’s how to apply seed cycling:
1st day of period – mid-cycle/ovulation: Eat 1-2 tablespoons each of raw, fresh ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. These seeds can naturally increase estrogen levels.
Mid-cycle/ovulation – day prior to period: Eat 1-2 tablespoons each of raw, fresh ground sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. These seeds can naturally stimulate progesterone production.
If you’re pre-menopausal or menopausal, start seed cycle at any time and do two weeks of each seed rotation, as shown above.
How I incorporate seed cycling into my life
If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that smoothies are an important part of my life and have played a big role in my health journey. So, to keep things simple I just toss seeds into a blender, along with all other smoothie ingredients, and voila – I have a nutrient-dense, hormone balancing meal in 60 seconds!
Want to incorporate seeds into healthy smoothies? Join my FREE 14-day smoothie challenge and I’ll teach you everything you need to know about creating smoothies for weight loss and better health + you’ll receive 16 dessert-inspired smoothies that you can easily add seeds to.
Other ways to incorporate seeds into your diet
- Stir into yogurt or grind into “NOatmeal”
- Add on top of salad or blend into salad dressing
- Create no-bake snacks that include seeds
- Munch on them as a snack (pumpkin & sunflower seeds)
- Smoothies (add seeds to this mint chocolate chip, pumpkin pie or easy green smoothie)
Tips for seed cycling
1. Buy whole, raw seeds and not ground or roasted. The oils inside seeds are very delicate and can oxidize easily, so you should grind your seeds the same day you consume them OR you can grind a batch and store in the freezer for use throughout the week. I also recommend going organic with your seeds if possible.
2. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds can be easily broken down through chewing, so you don’t have to grind these seeds if you’d prefer to chew them. Flax and sesame seeds are smaller, making them difficult to break down through chewing, so you’ll have to grind them before consuming. A coffee grinder works well for this.
3. It’s very important that seeds are thoroughly chewed or ground so they don’t pass through your digestive system completely undigested. Incorporating seeds into smoothies makes seed cycling very easy since the blender will thoroughly grind all seeds.
Articles & Studies:
Dr. Jolene Brighten – Seed cycling for hormone balance
Dr. Jolene Brighten – Birth Control — What your doctor didn’t tell you
Dr. Jolene Brighten – How the menstrual cycle works