Cycle of life

Shannon Leparski explains how seed cycling may help with hormonal balance

Food can act as healing medicine to naturally support and harmonise hormones, or it can act as a highly addictive and inflammatory drug. Either way it’s no secret that what you eat influences hormone function, how you look and feel, and your overall health.

Seed cycling refers to a naturopathic method of rotating different seeds throughout different times of your menstrual cycle. Doing this can support hormone balance which, in turn, may alleviate those pesky PMS symptoms like acne, amenorrhea, heavy bleeding, fatigue, infertility, insomnia, and others. Different seeds provide various oils, vitamins, and minerals that can help stimulate production, detoxification, and metabolism of oestrogen and progesterone. The alternating seeds include flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds.

  • Ground flax seeds are more easily absorbed than whole flax seeds, so you should always grind them (otherwise you’ll poop them out whole). Note: If you are grinding flax seeds, do not soak them first because they’ll turn into a wet mess.
  • Pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower seeds can be eaten raw, raw and soaked, or raw and ground.
  • Nuts and seeds can go rancid if not stored properly, so it’s best to refrigerate them in glass jars to keep them fresh.

How to seed cycle

Seed cycling is a simple, natural, and inexpensive way to support fluctuating hormones. It divides into two rotations. Even if your cycle is irregular and does not fall within the average 28 to 30-day range, I recommend working off of the days in a normal menstrual cycle because this will gently encourage your cycle to balance itself out.

The first rotation

The first rotation combines your menstrual and follicular phases (days 1–14), to support rising oestrogen levels with flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Here’s how they work:

  • Flax seeds are high in phytoestrogens that promote oestrogen production as well as lignans that help detoxify excess oestrogens and fibre to eliminate them. Together, they work to harmonise optimal oestrogen ratios.
  • Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation and work to regulate FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels for ovulation support, not to mention their amazing benefits for healthy skin, hair, and nails.
  • Pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) are high in zinc, which helps prime and support the production of adequate progesterone in the next phase (the luteal phase).

Add flax seeds to smoothies, chia puddings, energy balls, oatmeal or baked goods. Add pumpkin seeds to salads, yogurt bowls, or homemade trail mix.

The second rotation

The second rotation combines your ovulatory and luteal phases (days 15–28) to support progesterone levels with sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Here’s how they work:

  • Sesame seeds are high in lignans, which help harmonise and modulate oestrogen levels. They’re also rich in magnesium and calcium to ease PMS cramps and provide an immunity boost.
  • Both sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which help reduce PMS-related inflammation while also supporting progesterone levels.
  • Sunflower seeds are rich in selenium, which is essential for liver function, to ensure proper detoxification and elimination of excess hormones and magnesium.

Add sesame and sunflower seeds to salads, soups, stir-fries, sauces, baked goods, or energy balls.

Seed cycling energy balls

Makes

10–12 balls

For menstrual and follicular phases

Ingredients

  • 1–¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1–¼ cup flaxseeds (raw or ground)
  • ¾ cup vegan plant protein powder (chocolate or vanilla)
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder (optional)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1–2 tbsp maple syrup (or 10 drops stevia)
  • 1 cup filtered water

Method

1. In a food processor, combine the pumpkin seeds, flax seed, protein powder, coconut, and cacao powder. Blend until finely ground and crumbly.

2. Add in the coconut oil, sweetener, and water, and blend until well combined and the mixture begins to form into one big ball in the food processor bowl.

3. Using an ice cream scoop, gently form into balls (the dough is too delicate to roll). Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm; store in the refrigerator for snacks or to enjoy alongside your smoothies throughout the week.

Makes

10–12 balls

For ovulatory and luteal phases

Ingredients

  • 1–¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1–¼ cup white sesame seeds (I buy these online in bulk)
  • ¾ cup vegan plant protein powder (chocolate or vanilla)
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder (optional)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1–2 tbsp maple syrup (or 10 drops stevia)
  • 1 cup filtered water

Method

1. Combine the sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, protein powder, coconut, and cacao powder in a food processor. Blend until finely ground and crumbly.

2. Add in the coconut oil, sweetener, and water, and blend until well combined and the mixture starts to form into one big ball.

3. Using an ice cream scoop, gently form into balls (the dough is too delicate to roll). Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm; store in the refrigerator for snacks or to enjoy alongside your smoothies throughout the week.

The Happy Hormone Guide by Shannon Leparski, Blue Star Press, RRP £18.99, is available online and from all good bookshops.

Read previous Your Health articles here...

Read articles from our latest issue here...

A top buttonTop