Manage PMS and Menopausal Symptoms with Seed Cycling!

Are you experience annoying and painful period symptoms that are often a sign of underlying hormone imbalance? Do you use medications like Advil or oral Birth Control to suppress the symptoms of hormonal imbalances? You have options. One option is addressing the hormone imbalance with diet. The nice thing is that you will benefit even more than your hormones when you change your diet in a healthy way. We will discuss other benefits below.

One way to incorporate healthy fats into your diet to support your hormones is Seed Cycling Protocol. I love this protcol because it is simple, healthy and so effective. This protocol isnt’ just for PMS but also for perimenopause and menopausal symptoms.

What is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling is a food-based method of supporting a healthy menstrual cycle by incorporating different nutrient-packed seeds into your diet during different phases of your menstrual cycle. If your cycle is absent or irregular, you’ll follow the different phases of the moon (because she’s got the same rhythm that your body needs). 

The menstrual cycle is regulated by a delicate balance of hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone. In a perfect cycle, estrogen is highest during days 1-14 (day 1 is the first day of your period), which is called the follicular phase, while progesterone is highest during days 15-28, the luteal phase. However, all too often these hormones become out of balance and can result in irregular/absent periods or nasty symptoms like PMS, cramps, acne, etc. Fortunately, the seeds in the seed cycling protocol below contain hormone balancing capabilities. I’ll go into greater detail later on about how they work. 

How to do Seed Cycyling.

It’s pretty simple. Just add 2 Tablespoons of seeds to your diet each day, rotating the type of seeds as described below. Flax seeds should be ground, due to their hard outer shell. All other seeds can be eaten with or without grinding. They can be eaten by the handful, added to a trail mix, sprinkled on oatmeal or salad, added to a smoothie or used however you like.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Seed grinder or a strong blender that can grind up small seeds efficiently (Vitamix, Blendtec, Magic Bullet or similar). A coffee grinder works too.

  • Raw, organic ground flax seeds

  • Raw, organic ground pumpkin seeds

  • Raw, organic ground sesame seeds

  • Raw, organic sunflower seeds

Days 1 to 14 of your cycle (or new moon to full moon if cycles are irregular or absent): 

  • 1 Tablespoon of raw, organic, ground flax seeds.

  • 1 Tablespoon of raw, organic, ground pumpkin seeds

Days 15 to 28 of your cycle (or full moon to new moon if cycles are irregular or absent):

  • 1 Tablespoon of raw, organic, ground sesame seeds.

  • 1 Tablespoon of raw, organic, ground sunflower seeds


Seeds supply your body with the anti-inflammatory substances such as lignans, omega fats and fiber which can help to balance your cycle and reduce the frustrating symptoms we talked about earlier.

Lignans have both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic activity. This simply means that they can attach themselves to estrogen receptors in your body to compete against the stronger estrogens that are produced by our bodies.  More data is needed about effects of phytoestrogens on specific conditions, like hormone-sensitive cancers.

When you are feeling cramps during your period, what you’re feeling is contractions in the muscular lining of the uterus. The omega fats in the oils of the nuts and seeds have anti-inflammatory benefits and can support muscle relaxation in the uterus, which will reduce cramping. 

Other foods that are beneficial for reducing inflammation include Omega-3 essential fatty acids from various fish.Adding in oil supplements can make this protocol even more effective.

The seed cycling protocol above also provides added fiber, something most of us are not getting enough of on a daily basis. Fiber has many benefits including:

  • Promoting satiety: this helps you to feel fuller longer, reducing appetite and encouraging maintenance of a healthy weight

  • Binding toxins from food and the environment to remove them from the body through bowel movements

  • Reducing sugar & carbohydrate “crashes”: Fiber decreases the glycemic response to food, meaning that it supports more stable blood sugar decreasing low and high blood sugar

  • Supporting healthy cholesterol levels

  • Promoting regular bowel movements

  • Supporting healthy bacteria in the large intestines: Fiber gets fermented by our healthy microflora (which are beneficial bacteria in the GI tract), producing substances called short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s). These SCFA’s become food for the cells lining the GI tract. (2) SCFA’s have many other exciting potential health benefits that are being investigated, including appetite regulation, immune function, balanced blood sugar, and weight control. (3)

A few More Seed Cycling Tips

Organic raw seeds are optimal for this protocol (not roasted, sweetened, salted, or flavored).  If you don’t have access to organic this will still work for you. These can be found in the refrigerated section of your health food store or healthy grocery store. If they are on teh shelf then refridgerate them as soon as you get them home! The raw seeds contain the most health benefits, and refrigeration will keep the seeds and their oils from going rancid. Rancid oils can do more harm than good in the body. As they become oxidized, they become pro-inflammatory.

  • Recipe idea: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds blended with 1 cup warm almond or coconut milk, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, a dash of cinnamon, and a little honey or molasses makes a delightful drink in the evening after dinner.

  • Drink adequate water while doing seed cycling, as the seeds are increasing your fiber intake and you will get bloating if you don’t drink your water!

  • If you have irregular or absent periods, you may wish to schedule an appointment with a naturopathic doctor for a more individualized approach and for additional natural hormone balancing support.

REFERENCES

  1. Hudson, T., & Northrup, C. (2008). Women’s encyclopedia of natural medicine: alternative therapies and integrative medicine for total health and wellness. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  2. Lyon, M. (2013). Dietary Fiber. In J. Pizzorno, M. Murray (Eds), Textbook of natural medicine (pp 469-474). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.

  3. Morrison, D. J., & Preston, T. (2016). Formation of short chain fatty acids by the gut microbiota and their impact on human metabolism. Gut Microbes, 7(3), 189–200. http://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2015.1134082

Glenna Calder