How Seed Cycling Supports A Better Period
ByKatarina Meister, ND •December 21, 2022
Estrogen dominance is the most common hormone imbalance in perimenopausal women that I see in my practice.
Different factors that can influence your hormones include stress, nutrition, sleep, activity level, body weight, pharmaceuticals, and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in your beauty products. When assessing hormones, we need a balance of both estrogen and progesterone. That is why we must assess both. If you have high estrogen, it is always looked at in relation to your levels of progesterone and vice versa. Progesterone is our “chill” hormone- it helps us relax, sleep and destress. Without it or without enough of it, we can be riddled with anxiety and insomnia.
Estrogen can be broken down into 3 main forms estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Looking at all 3 forms of estrogen can provide a glimpse into how well you are creating and detoxing estrogen. Poor detox is one of the most common root causes to estrogen dominance.
- Estrone (E1) is secreted by your ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissue. This form of estrogen is highest in menopause. Your adrenal glands or your stress glands play a major role in hormone balancing for post-menopause. If you are struggling with high stress and are struggling with menopausal symptoms, you may benefit from adrenal support.
- Estradiol (E2) is produced primarily in ovaries and is the predominant estrogen. This type of estrogen is the highest and most active during your reproductive years as it signals for ovulation and helps to regulate your menstrual cycle.
- Estriol (E3) is produced by the placenta during pregnancy and thus is highest during pregnancy supporting fetal development and uterine growth.
Lastly, but equally important, are estrogen metabolites which can be seen on a DUTCH test. Estrogen metabolites are the further breakdown products of estrogen (E1, E2, E3) that can help to pinpoint where exactly there is a problem in detoxification. Read more about the DUTCH test and hormone metabolism here.
For estrogen balance, we need a balance of all 3 estrogens and support the detoxification of their metabolites. We can support this balance through nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle changes. Detoxification also involves the gut! Read more about how gut bacteria can influence detoxification of estrogen through the ‘Estrobolome’ here.
To support estrogen dominance, start with seed cycling.
Seeds contain phytochemicals that have beneficial hormonal effects. Flax seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens or plant estrogens that can bind to our estrogen receptors with a weaker effect. This allows them to mellow out high levels of estrogen and support lower levels of estrogen – therefore seed cycling can be done at any age to support hormone balance. Similarly, sesame and sunflower seeds have a progesterone effect which can help to boost progesterone levels.
Seed cycling can benefit a variety of hormone-driven concerns such as:
- Menstrual regulation
- Hormonal Acne
- Seeds for Phase 1 (Follicular Phase: Days 1-14): 2tbsp of ground Flax, Pumpkin, or Chia seeds
- Seeds for Phase 2 (Luteal Phase days 15-28): 2tbsp of ground sunflower or Sesame seeds
- Note: Day 1 of your menstrual cycle is the first day of bleeding.
If you have an irregular cycle or post-menopause, you can take the seeds with the lunar calendar starting with the new moon:
- Phase 1: New Moon – Full Moon
- Phase 2: Full Moon – New Moon
Seed cycling can take a few months before you start to notice a difference, best results are seen in 4-6 months. If you are looking for a pre-made blend of seeds, check out beeya. See below for ideas on how to add seeds to your daily routine. You can also try Dr. Axtell’s Seed Cycling Energy Bites recipe!
Finally, adding more seeds into your diet is not only crucial for your hormones, but also your overall health! You’ll boost your mineral status with pumpkin seeds for magnesium and zinc, and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E. There are no negative side effects to eating the different seeds at different times, however, you should emphasize the seeds that are dominant for the phase you are in to support your hormones.
Here are a few more ways to get seeds into your diet:
- Use flackers instead of bread or normal crackers
- Add seeds to salads for an extra crunch!
- Seed Cycling Energy Bites
- Sprinkle seeds over your vegetables, soups, oatmeal, or in baked goods.
- Make your own granola with seeds – see our golden granola recipe.
- Add seeds to your smoothies.
- Try this Pumpkin and Hemp Seed Pesto recipe.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.