Seed Cycling for Hormonal Imbalance
Katherine Takayasu, MD, MBA, Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness
Women often talk about their hormones feeling “off.” This can be from an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone.
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Estrogen and progesterone are two key hormones that help us regulate our menstrual cycles. During the first half of the cycle (from the start of the menstrual period to ovulation), estrogen levels rise. After ovulation, progesterone levels rise while estrogen begins to decline. Then both hormones ultimately trail off which allows for the start of the menstrual period. It’s a bit of a hormonal symphony!
But what if your hormonal symphony is playing out of tune?
Feeling “off” for some women can mean premenstrual syndrome (PMS)—which can include irritability, mood swings, insomnia, breast tenderness, and pelvic discomfort—all happening before the period starts.
For others, feeling “off” can mean wicked dysmenorrhea (painful abdominal cramping at the time of the period).
And then add to that the complexity of peri-menopause, where the periods become erratic and irregular due to less frequent ovulation as we near menopause (the time at which the periods ultimately stop)... accompanied by hot flashes or night sweats, vaginal dryness, waning interest in sex, weight gain around the mid-section, and lapses in concentration.
What’s a lady to do?
Consider seed cycling.
What is seed cycling?
Seed Cycling is using Nature’s goodness to your advantage. It’s simply eating different types of seeds at different times in the menstrual cycle to support optimal hormonal balance of estrogen and progesterone. Certain seeds carry certain fatty acids (a.k.a. oils), vitamins, and nutrients that help support our hormones, so being mindful of amounts and timing can be quite magical to feeling more whole.
If you have a regular menstrual cycle, you can use your menses to guide your cycling with seeds. If you are peri-menopausal or post-menopausal without a regular cycle, then use the moon cycle to guide you. One of the most beautiful things I heard from a mentor is that as women we never lose the need to feel one with a cycle, so use the moon’s cycle to re-regulate your rhythm.
Men can Seed Cycle too. Being one with Nature is not a gender-unique phenomenon. Men simply use the moon cycle to plan their seed rotation.
I find it easiest to grind a few days’s worth of seeds together at one time. Then I use 2 Tbsp of the mixture each day. Once ground, the seeds are sensitive to oxidation and can go rancid, so store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Ground seeds work well on top of oatmeal, in yogurt, on salad or sautéed vegetables, or even mixed with a little almond milk. Experiment, and then tell me what you like best! I love hearing from you.
Give this protocol about 3-4 months to see a change. Be patient. Nature takes time!
One note of caution: increase your ground seed consumption slowly over a few days. The body doesn’t like swift changes, so if you’re sensitive and not used to eating this much fiber or fat at one time, it can lead to a little bloating, or fullness, or even temporary alterations in stool. Go slow with yourself and see how you feel.
DAY 1 OF PERIOD UNTIL OVULATION
(NEW MOON TO FULL MOON)
- 1 Tbsp ground organic raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 Tbsp ground organic raw flax seeds
Helpful addition: 1200mg per day of high quality Omega-3 rich fish oil (I like a blend of DHA and EPA, consider Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega)
OVULATION UNTIL START OF NEXT PERIOD
(FULL MOON TO NEW MOON)
- 1 Tbsp ground organic raw sunflower seeds
- 1 Tbsp ground organic raw sesame seeds
Helpful addition: 500mg per day of Evening Primrose Oil
Try Dr. Katie's Lemon Tahini Tomato Salad, a delicious way to get sesame seeds into your diet.
Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., M.B.A. practices Integrative Medicine combining traditional Western medicine with evidence-based complementary modalities at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut. She helps patients heal naturally with acupuncture, mind-body medicine, botanical medicine, nutrition, and lifestyle optimization. She is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian and teaches the next generation of doctors about healing the whole patient mind, body, and spirit. For her own well-being, Dr. Katie practices what she preaches. She engages in yoga and meditation regularly and enjoys experimenting with plant-based cuisine in the kitchen.