Balancing Your Hormones
with Seed Cycling
Full transcription available at the bottom of this post
Is this for real?
Like seriously, can eating seeds help me not have PMS?
Well according to tens of thousands of women who've tried it, and their naturopath doctors who recommend it, YES!
Using seeds in the diet to balance hormones is a practice that's been around for hundreds of years. More recently the "seed cycling" protocol seems to trace back to a naturopath doctor circa 2012. It's been in practice to help things like PMS, PCOS, and infertility long before it was trending on Instagram.
Personally, I've used seed cycling on and off for the last 7 or 8 years and I do feel like I notice a reduction in my PMS symptoms and cramps during my period.
Seed Cycling as a protocol though, has NOT been scientifically studied and there is no definitive proof that it can reduce PMS symptoms or balance your hormones. You should also know that seed cycling should NOT be considered a cure or a treatment for any hormonal issue. There are however tens of thousands of women who self-report an improvement of symptoms which may make this something worth trying for you too! Plus the fact that it's relatively inexpensive, easy to do, and has no real known side effects, make it a pretty safe protocol to try and see if it might work for you!
In this episode I'll give you the lowdown on exactly what seed cycling is, exactly how to do it, and what we DO know about the science and how adding seeds to your diet could benefit your hormone balance. Send me a DM on Instagram if you give it a try or have questions!
PS. If anything in this episode resonated with you, then share the LOVE! Post a screenshot of this episode in your stories and tag me @tarafaulmann
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, and more importantly I'm not YOUR doctor. Any info in the podcast is for informational purposes only and not a recommendation for treatment of any kind. Always consult your medical professionals before beginning any type of protocol.
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Show Notes & Transcript:
Welcome back, my friends. So many of us struggle with out of balance hormones, and it's affecting every aspect of our lives. So when I know of something that could help you balance your hormones, I'm definitely going to share it here. Especially when that something is super cheap, super easy and has no real side effects. I'm talking about seed cycling. Have you heard of it? Apparently, it's trending on Instagram right now, but it's actually been around for a long time. Today, I'm going to give you the lowdown on exactly how to do it, why you might want to do it, what it's potentially doing for you, so that you can decide if you want to give it a try. Let's go.
Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life in the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I'm on a mission to help you take back control of your mind, health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health. Find food freedom. And finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You, my friend, are powerful, and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward. So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes, let's walk and talk.
First of all, just a quick reminder that I am not a doctor. And more importantly, I am not your doctor. So do not take this or anything else in this podcast as medical advice or as treatment advice, especially for hormone imbalance. As usual, it's my job to give you the information so that you can talk to your medical professional and decide if this approach is right for you. Personally, I've been seed cycling on and off for many years, probably seven or eight years at this point. And I can tell you for sure when I'm doing it, I have less PMS symptoms, and I also have a less intense period experience. And by that I mean less intense cramping. I am not going to tell you that seed cycling somehow miraculously cured me of all my menstrual woes. But I will tell you that I definitely noticed an improvement when I'm doing it consistently. So from my perspective, it's worth bringing it to you and letting you decide if it's something that you want to try.
Seed cycling is pretty much exactly what it sounds like you're adding certain seeds at certain times of your menstrual cycle. So in this case, flax and pumpkin, sesame and sunflower, and they're coinciding with different points of your menstrual cycle in order to help you balance hormones. Pretty simple in theory. So here's how you do it: On days one through 14 of your menstrual cycle. That is day one of menstruation to ovulation, you're going to add about one to two tablespoons of flax and one to two tablespoons of pumpkin seed. Then on the second half of your cycle days about 15 to 28 which is ovulation to menstruation again, you're going to add one to two tablespoons of sesame seed and one to two tablespoons of sunflower seed.
You can add those seeds to your food and your life in any way that you want. Personally, I grind them up in my Vitamix and then I add all my smoothie ingredients on top and I just drink them in my smoothie. For me that's the super simplest way. I would advise for sure you're going to want to grind up the flax and the sesame seed in large part because they're very tiny seeds and we often don't chew our food very well. So if you start eating whole flax seeds especially you will notice that they are coming out as whole flax seeds out the other end which then it has done you absolutely no good it was a complete waste of time and money. So for me personally I always recommend that you ground up the flax and the sesame just because they're so small, and then the sunflower and the pumpkin are a little bit bigger so you can put those on salads on your oatmeal, whatever we usually chew those up pretty well. You could add them to almost anything: salads, oatmeal smoothies, on top of stir fries, whatever. Tahini is another great way to get in some ground up sesame. I love to make sauces for stir fries with tahini, and I also sometimes make protein balls, and I put the ground up seed in the protein balls. So there are lots of ways that you can add these seeds to your diet to make it super simple.
Now, the truth of the matter is there is not a lot of scientific study that is proving that seed cycling is actually doing anything or helping your body or making any sort of improvements. There are studies for each of those individual seeds and how they're benefiting your body. But seed cycling as a whole has really not been studied. And I think one of the biggest reasons for that is that there's just not a lot of money in it. Doing any sort of scientific study takes money, it's expensive to do a proper scientific study. So no one has really wanted to fund a seed cycling study because no one stands to benefit or make any profit if seed cycling is proven to be beneficial. Most studies and health and nutrition and reproduction are funded by either the government, by universities or by pharmaceutical companies. Well, none of those entities stand to gain anything. If it's proven scientifically that seeds cycling is helpful to a women's menstrual cycle. So I don't think it's unstudied, because it's there's nothing to it. I think it's unstudied, because there's no money to be gained from it. So just keep that in the back of your mind as we go.
Another thing that I want to make sure of is that if you see anyone claiming that seed Cycling is a cure for anything, run far away. Seed cycling is not a cure. And I have seen people post that it is a treatment or a cure for things like PMS, PCOS, infertility, thyroid disorders, etc. Anecdotally, generations of women have been doing seed cycling, and they report that their symptoms have improved. Again, there is no scientific study that proves their symptoms have improved. It is all self report, women try seed cycling, and they report back an improvement. So it is not a cure. And it is not scientifically proven. I just want to make sure we know that out of the gate because I want to be super upfront and transparent always on this podcast. It's been used for decades by naturopath doctors and more sort of homeopathic doctors. It's not new, it's been around for a very long time. So there is a lot of anecdotal evidence a lot of women who have experienced it, but not a lot of hard scientific proof. But knowing that here is the potential benefit that it could serve for you, if you give it a try.
So during the first half of your menstrual cycle, that's days one through 14, so day one of your period through day 14, which is about the time that we ovulate, that is when estrogen is rising and peaking. That's when you're taking the flax and the pumpkin seed. One problem that a lot of us have is estrogen dominance. So that means not just that more estrogen is being released into our body or created by our body or ingested through foods into our body. It's also that we are not properly metabolizing that estrogen out because during those first 14 days, you want a rise of estrogen, a peak of estrogen and then a fall of estrogen and then you ovulate. Estrogen dominance can look like abnormal menstruation. So like heavy, painful periods.
It can look like PMS, headaches, decreased sex drive, bloating, mood swings, fatigue, anxiety and depression, breast tenderness, endometriosis, fibroids, hormonal weight gain, any of that sounded familiar to you. Yeah, it does for me. It really sucks when two weeks of your entire month you are left feeling that way and with those things.
The idea is then that flax and pumpkin during the first half of your period is going to help with this estrogen dominance situation. So flax is pretty cool. Flax contains something called lignans. lignans actually bind to the excess estrogen in your body and help you eliminate it. So help get it out of your body hope you metabolize it, being able to effectively rid that excess estrogen is going to be super important to preventing all of those PMS symptoms. Now, interestingly, flax in some studies has also shown to be effective in preventing estrogen related cancers like certain breast cancers. So if that's something that you are concerned about or have issue with flax might be something really useful for you to add to your diet. It's also been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk, decreasing A1C levels and type two diabetes. And for those of you with PCOS, especially PCOS with insulin resistant or elevated blood sugar, adding that lignans from the flax can be super helpful.
Pumpkin seeds During this first half of your period, are going to be really helpful too, because they contain a lot of z. So zinc has tons of other benefits to your body, not the least of which is boosting your immune system. But zinc has been shown to reduce menstrual cramps and improve progesterone levels. And we're gonna talk about progesterone here in a second. So you can see that the potential of using these two seeds at the first half of your period might be really helpful to you.
Okay, let's talk about the second half days 15 through 28. So ovulation through the first day of your menstrual cycle again, or through the first day of your period, you ovulate somewhere around day 14. And at that point, estrogen has completely dropped that triggers ovulation and then progesterone begins to rise, then it peaks and then it drops. And then at that drop is when you start your period. So first half of your cycle is estrogen dominant. Second half of your cycle is progesterone dominant. So the seeds we're using for the second half again, are sesame and sunflower, sesame seeds are a really rich source of zinc. Remember, zinc was super helpful for cramps and helpful for boosting that progesterone production. Sesame seeds also contain lignans, the same lignans as flax seed, which again helps your body metabolize out that extra estrogen because during this second half of the of your period, now we want very little estrogen, we want to be more progesterone dominant, you're also adding during the second half sunflower seeds and sunflower seeds are really high in vitamin E and selenium, vitamin E can help boost that progesterone production. That's good, because that's what we want in the second half of our menstrual cycle. And selenium also helps detox the liver of excess estrogen because your liver is how you're getting rid of the the estrogen, your liver is how you are metabolizing out that extra estrogen. So if we can support the liver in that process, win/win right! I also have had lots of conversations with my naturopath about Selenium as a thyroid support. So I have Hashimotos, which is an autoimmune thyroid disorder. And we have had lots of talks about taking selenium. That's something I'm starting right now, actually, in order to support my thyroid. So selenium, super important mineral, you don't really need a lot of it, but a lot of us need a little more of it than we have. So sunflower seeds are a really great way to get that. So you can see then taken as a whole, that cycling these seeds during your cycle could be very beneficial in helping balance out those hormone levels throughout your menstrual cycle.
Again, I want to remind you that there's not a ton of scientific evidence that seed cycling works, right, there's not a lot of scientific proof. But there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of women who have tried it and reported improvements in their symptoms. And also there is scientific evidence for each individual seed and the way that those seeds and the nutrients in them are benefiting your body. And this is not new, right? It might be training on Instagram right now. But seed cycling and using seeds to balance hormones have been around for decades, like hundreds of years. But this is not new. So it's not like some new fad like oh, let's get on the seeds cycling train like this has been around, there's women who have been doing it for decades and really swear by it. So it's worth checking out.
If you are postmenopausal, so you no longer have a menstrual cycle, you will still benefit from seed cycling, or at the very least getting these seeds into your daily diet. So a lot of recommendations that I see for postmenopausal women is you would still sort of cycle through that 28 day cycle the same way that someone with a menstrual cycle would. I've also seen recommendations which make sense to me to time your seed cycling with the moon phases. Now this has nothing to do with astrology or like a weird Universe, things like that. Really, it's because the moon cycle is a predictable cycle. And so that it's an easy way to time your seed cycling, right, so you've got the moon cycle is very similar to our menstrual cycle in the amount of days, and it's very easy to track. So using the moon cycle to track your seed cycling, if you are postmenopausal and don't have a menstrual cycle to track it by. That could be very useful.
Really though, just getting these seeds into your diet in any way I think is probably going to be beneficial to you. All four of these seeds have so many micronutrients, and super great fatty acid profiles that no matter what they're going to be a good addition unless you're allergic to them. They're going to be a really good addition to your diet. So if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of like, oh, which seed when what am I doing? I don't know. If that feels like a lot to you then don't do it. Just don't do that. But do figure out a way to get these seeds into your diet, sprinkle them on your salad, put them on your oatmeal, make a protein bowl, put them in your smoothie, whatever it is, it's totally worth adding them to your diet and your nutrition profile.
Most people, when they start seed cycling, would say that it takes about three cycles. So like three ish months, to really start to notice a difference, I would say, when I started, that was probably true took about three periods to really start to notice a difference at this point. If I stop it, and then start it again, it really only takes like a month or two, for me to notice the difference pretty quickly. I think the longer you do it, like anything, The more consistent you are the better. Why have I stopped and started in my life? Who knows? Why have I stopped and started anything? Why am I inconsistent in anything? Not because there was anything going wrong? Or I didn't like to do it. I just got lazy and then stopped and then realized, oh, I don't feel good. I should do that again. Right? We've all done that, haven't we? So I do recommend just giving it a shot. I file seed cycling under, like just you should give it a try. It's really cheap. It's really easy. There's really no contraindications. There's really no like major side effects you need to look out for, there's really no big interference with any pharmaceuticals that I'm aware of. So unless you have known allergies or issues with any of those seeds, I would say it's probably pretty safe for most people to give a try. Again, not medical advice, Always talk to your doctor, I'm just telling you to try to try and eat some seeds here.
To recap really fast. How you do it is during the first 14 days of your cycle, so day one of your period to day 14, because I know you're all tracking your cycles, right? This is something we've talked about a lot, we need to be tracking our cycles. Day one of your period to day 14 of your cycle, you're doing one to two tablespoons each of flax and pumpkin. And then day 15 through 28. The second half of your cycle you are doing one to two tablespoons each of sesame and sunflower and you're just kind of adding those however you want to. As a quick side note on getting your seeds I generally order seeds from like Amazon. I have bought them from Walmart from Fred Meijer, Safeway. Most grocery stores have them. I know on Amazon, you can get like the big bags of them, which is what I get for the sunflower seeds. I
get raw, organic unsalted hold sunflower seeds, so it doesn't have the shell on it. It's already shelled. And then for the flax and the sesame and the pumpkin. I just get the whole seed no salt, no toasted, no nothing, just plain seed. So look for that. on Amazon. There's lots of probably brands that you can get. I've found them definitely in Walmart, I found the big bags too. So just about any grocery store, you can find the map, but I do recommend getting the big bags if you're going to do this for a while like I do.
Okay, I hope that was really helpful. I really want to know if you try this and if it helps you at all. So send me a DM on Instagram and let me know what you thought about this. If you found this podcast valuable and you want to share it with some someone if you're on the email list just for that email to a friend. And if you're listening to this podcast anywhere else, just take a screenshot of it, put it in your stories and tag me on Instagram. I would love to see that. And I would love for you to share this with anyone that you think might find value in this as well. All right, my friends until we talk again, Be well.
Friends thanks so much for being here. If you found value in today's episode, will you do me a favor and head over to iTunes? Find the no nonsense wellness podcast and subscribe and leave me a review. It would mean the world to me and help other people find the show. And I'd love to connect with you more. So find me on Instagram. I'm @tarafaulmann. Take a screenshot of this episode and share it in your stories and tag me. I'll see you over there.