Many women in the United Arab Emirates experience difficulties with their menstrual cycle, leading to symptoms such as commonly irregular periods, pain from premenstrual and menstrual cramps, and light or heavy bleeding – and let’s not forget about mood swings, lethargy, and depression. Oftentimes, issues and discomfort associated with your menstrual cycle are related to hormonal imbalances.
You may be wondering, “What causes hormonal imbalances?” Well, many factors come into play, including:
- Food (a diet poor in nutrients and rich in pro-inflammatory foods)
- Gut imbalances
- Stress and lifestyle (overexercising, lack of movement, overstimulation)
- Medication and beauty products (birth control pill, antibiotics, sunscreen, skin products rich in chemicals)
- Genetics (auto-immune diseases and thyroid problems)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, endometriosis, estrogen dominance, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and infertility are the most common hormonal imbalances women suffer from. A potential solution to these issues, which finds its roots in naturopathy, has been gaining a lot of traction lately. It’s known as seed cycling and is a natural hormone replacement therapy that utilizes seeds to promote balance by supporting your body’s production, metabolism, and detoxification of hormones.
How Seed Cycling Works
Seed cycling is based on the consumption of different types of seeds during your different hormonal phases; flax and pumpkin seeds during the follicular phase and sesame and sunflower seeds during the luteal phase. These are rich in lignans (chemicals that bind to excessive estrogen so it can be eliminated from the body), high in essential fatty acids (that provide building blocks for your hormones), as well as high in vitamins and minerals.
Phase 1: Follicular
During the follicular phase (day one of menses until ovulation), pumpkin and flaxseeds are used to promote healthy levels of estrogen. This is the hormone that:
- creates your curves,
- preserves bone strength,
- prevents bone loss,
- regulates cholesterol production,
- improves the thickness and quality of your skin,
- and stimulates the growth of your uterine lining.
Phase 2: Luteal
During the luteal phase (the day after ovulation until the day before menses), you switch to sesame and sunflower seeds to balance estrogen and promote a healthy production of progesterone, which is the dominant hormone during the luteal phase. Progesterone is the hormone that:
- prepares your uterus for pregnancy,
- helps metabolize fat into energy,
- protects your breasts and uterus against cancer,
- and balances your mood by reducing your anxiety and increasing your sleepiness.
Choosing Your Seeds
How many seeds you need depends on how regular your periods are. For women with regular periods, it’s recommended to take one tablespoon each of both flax and pumpkin seeds during the follicular phase, and then one tablespoon each of sesame and sunflower seeds during the luteal phase.
If you have irregular periods, it’s recommended to follow the cycle of the moon. From the new moon until the full moon, take one tablespoon each of flax and pumpkin seeds. Then, from the full moon until the new moon, take one tablespoon each of sesame and sunflower seeds.
If you’re interested in trying seed cycling, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
- If you have a regular period, you can track your period and ovulation with an app such as Flo.
- If you have irregular periods, download an app to track the cycle of the moon.
- Before beginning seed cycling, purchase a small coffee grinder as seeds are better digested when they’re ground, especially tiny seeds like flax and sesame. Grind them the same day you consume them to benefit from their oils, lignans, vitamins, and minerals.
- Add them to your smoothie, soup, and salad — or have them as a snack!
- Use the seed cycling technique for at least three to six months.
- Be patient, consistent, disciplined and everything will fall into place — it’s the little things you do on a daily basis that will have a lasting impact on your health.
Seed cycling is beneficial for women who are in the process of coming off the hormonal birth control pill and getting their natural cycles back on track. A nutritionally supportive method, it needs to be complemented with lifestyle and diet changes.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that seed cycling is a natural therapy, which means you will not see results instantly. Expect to wait about three complete menstrual cycles to experience changes and benefits from the practice. As Lao Tzu once said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article does not constitute individualized medical advice nor should you rely on it as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.