What is seed cycling and how to do it
Words Maisie Hill // @_maisiehill_
Seed cycling is a natural healing technique that uses food to help to restore optimal hormonal levels. Although it’s often associated with getting cycles on track when you’re trying to conceive, it’s actually a technique that can help women at all stages of life including during perimenopause and post-menopausal phases. Here, Maisie Hill, women's health expert and author of the magnificent new book Period Power (Green Tree, $29.99) reveals why it works, who it suits and how to get started.
WHO SHOULD TRY SEED CYCLING?
If your hormones and menstrual cycle are out of whack, then seed cycling is for you. Consuming different seeds during each half of your cycle helps to boost oestrogen levels in the first half, and progesterone in the second. If you have absent or irregular cycles, light/heavy flow, a short luteal phase, PMS, perimenopausal symptoms, or if you’re post- menopausal, then seed cycling is a great option for you too.
how does it work?
Seed hulls contain lignans which bind up excess hormones, and seed oils contain essential fatty acids which are the building blocks for making hormones.
“If you have absent or irregular cycles, light/heavy flow, a short luteal phase, PMS, perimenopausal symptoms, or if you’re post- menopausal, then seed cycling is a great option.”
HOW TO START SEED CYCLING
In the follicular phase of your cycle (days 1–14 of a 28-day cycle), or from new moon to full moon if you’re not currently menstruating, eat 2–4 tbsps of both ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds per day to gently and naturally increase oestrogen levels. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which supports progesterone production and release in the second phase of your cycle.
In the luteal phase of your cycle (days 15–28), or from full moon to dark moon, eat 2–4 tbsps of both sesame seeds and sunflower seeds per day. The zinc in sesame seeds and the vitamin E in sunflower seeds both help stimulate the production of progesterone. The lignans in sesame seeds help to block excess oestrogen, and sunflower seeds provide selenium which assists the liver in its detoxification role and improve overall hormonal health.
WHICH SEEDS ARE BEST FOR SEED CYCLING?
Buy whole organic seeds and use a coffee or spice grinder to get a powder which you can add to porridge, soups, salads and smoothies. Or just eat them whole if you prefer. You can grind enough for the week ahead and store them in the freezer. Stay clear of pre-ground seeds as they oxidise rapidly and go rancid.
HOW QUICKLY DOES SEED CYCLING START TO HAVE AN EFFECT?
You might experience a change in your cycle within the first month of seed cycling, but it usually takes three to four cycles to see a noticeable difference because that’s how long it takes for a follicle to mature and be released at ovulation.
Period Power (green tree, $29.99) is available from all good bookstores.