Seed Cycling 101
THE CYCLE BALANCE WAY TO NATURAL HORMONE HARMONY
Seed Cycling an ancient method of incorporating specific seeds and oils into your diet following the waxing and waning patterns of the moon to assist in natural hormonal balance. It is a time-honored practice appropriate for all stages of a woman’s life from puberty onward.
SEED CYCLING IS GREAT FOR SUPPORT WITH:
Transition to menopause
The first step to seed cycling is learning how to sync with the rhythms of the moon. If this is not something you normally do, a great place to start is by simply becoming aware of when the moon is full and when it is dark. These are the times that the moon phase moves from waxing (new to full moon) to waning (full to new moon) and are your cues for switching your seeds/oils.
If you are not familiar with following the moon, it can take some time to get into its rhythms. You may find a calendar or app can help you keep track. Alternatively, and highly suggested by us, take a look at the moon most nights and you will begin to embody the pattern. If you want to learn more about the cycles of the moon, and how other cycles in life affect you, please check out the book Cycles of Wisdom, co-written by Dr. Danielle, who knows her stuff.
ABOUT THE SEEDS AND OILS
WHY SEED CYCLE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Seed-cycling supports the natural cycles of hormone production and metabolism. Seed oils are comprised of essential fatty acids (EFAs), the building blocks of hormone production. Seed hulls contain lignans, which modulate hormonal pathways and block excess estrogen. The different seeds and oils help regulate different parts of the menstrual cycle.
WHAT SEEDS AND OILS GO WITH EACH PHASE?
It’s really that simple! Of course, it can be hard or boring to figure out how to incorporate ground seeds in your diet. A couple of easy ways to start, without any special culinary knowledge, is to simply sprinkle your ground seeds over a salad, soup, butter toast, or blend them in with your smoothie.
Those aren’t the only ways, of course, which is why we have searched out delicious and simple recipes, incorporating the seeds, so that your snacking will be healthful and hormonally supportive.
WHAT DOES THE MOON HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?
Many women refer to their menstrual cycle as a “moon cycle” and it is for good reason. The cycles within the female body mimic the waxing and waning nature of the moon. (And we already know the moon’s effect on ocean tides; it impacts the tides within us as well.)
The New Moon is Day 1 of your cycle and corresponds to the 1st day of your period. The New Moon kicks off Phase 1. The Full Moon is roughly Day 14 of your cycle and roughly corresponds to ovulation. This moon kicks off Phase 2. In times before we were bombarded with artificial light, most women’s bodies actually did ovulate during the full moon — and indeed most still do.
SO, HOW DO THE SEEDS & OILS FIT INTO THIS?
Well, during the first phase of your menstrual cycle, estrogen levels increase and dominate. During the second phase, estrogen decreases and progesterone increases. Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and fish oil help to increase estrogen production. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and evening primrose oil help to increase progesterone, which helps to amp up phase 2.
If your hormones are wonky for any reason (and there are many things that affect hormones: food, diet, chemicals, activity level, sleep schedule, life phases, etc.) following this rhythm can help bring you into harmony with nature.
Anecdotally, Dr. Danielle has had experiences with irregular periods and hormonal imbalances her entire life and has noticed that just in paying more mindful attention to the moon and natural cycles — even without seed cycling — brings her cycle into more balance. Mona has noticed a dramatic reduction in the severity and frequency of her hot-flashes while seed cycling.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY DO THE SEEDS NEED TO BE RAW?
Heating the seeds will break down the elements that promote hormonal balance and will lessen their nutritional value.
WHY GRIND MY SEEDS?
It’s best to grind fresh whenever possible. Seeds are perfect little packages of nutrients containing everything a plant needs to come to life, just add water. Seeds left in their natural hard hulls will stay fresher, and retain the most nutrition. Oils in pre-ground seeds can go rancid much faster than whole seeds. Grinding releases the EFAs in the seeds, allowing them to be more easily absorbed. Flax seeds, especially, are tiny with hard hulls that are very difficult to chew fully enough to break down and extract all the nutrients.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PURCHASE RAW ORGANIC SEEDS? WHAT WOULD $20 GET ME?
Buying your seeds in bulk will give you the most bang for your buck. Most natural grocery stores have bins of bulk staple foods that cost significantly less than pre-packaged seeds. Online, $20 should buy you a season's worth of each kind of raw, organic seeds with change left over. Invest in truly airtight storage containers with the money you’re saving by buying in bulk.
HOW MANY OUNCES/POUNDS OF SEEDS SHOULD I GET AT A TIME?
Stock up in bulk, if you want. Buy enough for a season and freeze the seeds in sealed, airtight containers to maintain freshness.
CAN I HAVE TOO MANY SEEDS?
While some of these seeds (and recipes) are deliciously binge-worthy, remember you’re eating these foods as therapy, so snack only in moderation.
WHAT IF MY CYCLE IS IRREGULAR?
Seed cycling is a natural and gentle way to help your cycle become regular. Start seed cycling with either the new or full moon, whichever is closest to your last cycle. If your cycle is regular, but shorter or longer than 28 days, follow the Cycle Balance plan and your menstrual periods should start to follow a 28 day cycle.
WHY ARE THESE SEEDS EATEN DURING THESE MOON PHASES?
For phase 1 – follicular phase – (days 1-14) Flax and pumpkin seeds are rich in lignans that block the production of excess estrogen. Phase 2 – luteal phase – (days 15-28) sunflower seeds are rich in selenium, crucial for liver detoxification for hormone balance. Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds are all rich in zinc, which helps helps in hormone production and overall immune and nervous systems. For both phases, the EFAs provide building blocks of hormone creation.
WHY TAKE FISH OIL AND EVENING PRIMROSE OIL?
Fish Oil contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 long-chain fatty acids. Omega-3s are potent anti-inflammatories. EPO contains GLA (gamma linoleic acid) which inhibits prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins are the inflammatory agents that cause menstrual pain and cramping.
IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN'T PUT SEEDS INTO, SUCH AS HOT LIQUIDS?
Your daily seeds can be incorporated in many dishes, but don’t cook them. They must stay in their raw state (below 104-120 degrees F) for you to get the full benefit from them. It’s ok to stir them into your oatmeal or sprinkle them over your hot french toast, just don’t mix them into the cooking cereal or batter.
CAN I EAT A WEEK'S WORTH OF SEEDS ON MONDAY?
No, silly! Would you eat a week’s worth of food on Monday?
WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE OR CAN'T HAVE ANY OF THESE SPECIFIC SEEDS?
You are welcome to substitute chia for flax, that is the only substitution that we know of. However, if you are unable to have any particular seed, for whatever reason, you can omit it and follow the rest of the regimen.
WHAT IF I ALREADY TAKE FISH OIL?
Continue with your fish oil and simply double up your intake during those two weeks.
After I start seed cycling, how long before I can expect to notice a difference?
Many people feel a difference during the first cycle, but it usually takes 3-4 cycles to feel an improvement in more severe hormonal/menstrual symptoms.
WHAT IMPROVEMENTS CAN I EXPECT TO FEEL?
The list of possible improvements is long: regular, more predictable periods; lessening or elimination of mood swings, hot-flashes, and food cravings; better mood; more energy; better sleep; and help with fertility issues.
WHAT IF I TAKE PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS?
There are very few occasions where seed cycling would not be recommended. Flax seeds and flax meal have some blood thinning properties, and may be off limits for you. Consult with your doctor if you are on a blood thinning medication or have any kind of bleeding disorder. If you have any concerns about your medications, please consult with your healthcare provider. Of course, any medications that need to be taken away from foods should be taken at least one hour before or after eating anything, including your daily seeds and oils.
WHAT IF I TAKE OTHER VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS?
In general, there should be no problem. Again, please consult your healthcare provider if you have specific concerns.
We always recommended you check with your health care provider(s) if you have any concerns about seed cycling and your health.
According to naturopathic doctor, Amy Bader, ND of NCNM (National College of Natural Medicine):
There is a very old tradition in Anthroposophical medicine (a form of medicine that sees health as a mind-body-spirit balance) called “seed cycling”. Going way, way back, women normalized their hormones by eating seeds in concert with moon cycles. I have used the technique of seed cycling in my practice for 15 years. It seems so simple, yet the effects can be quite powerful. I recommend all women do this starting at puberty. It consistently helps women’s hormone find balance, minimizing mood swings, PMS, and difficult periods. It can be difficult to start a new habit, but Seed Cycling 101 makes it easy and practical by giving you beautiful and effective resources and in-depth information.
WOMEN'S HEALTH PRACTITIONERS:
Are you interested in purchasing the Seed Cycle Tracker in bulk for your patients, clients, or students?
Laminated prints are a great option and we can get you a super deal on those!
Contact us by completing the form to the right and let us know what you need. We will get back in touch with you as soon as possible.