Luna: Hi Mel and Sarina! It's so good to be chatting with you again today. Let's dive right in! Tell us, exactly how does seed cycling work?
The Seed Cycle: To best understand how seed cycling works, let’s first explore hormones, our menstrual cycle and why hormones go out of balance.
Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers. They affect many different processes including growth, development, metabolism, mood and reproduction. In particular, female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone have a major influence on women's health. These are the two key players that help regulate the menstrual cycle.
During the first half of the cycle (days 1-14, first day being the day you start your period), which is called the follicular phase. During this time, estrogen levels rise, and prepare to grow, thicken and mature the lining of the uterus and help mature the egg prior to ovulation.
The second half of the cycle is the luteal phase (days 15-28). This is where progesterone levels start to rise. Progesterone is our natural ‘relax hormone’ and works in the second half of the menstrual cycle to thicken and maintain the endometrial lining and support egg implantation in the wall of the uterus.
If pregnancy doesn’t take place, progesterone levels begin to fall which brings on your period and the cycle restarts. For most of us, the compounding effects of stress, poor nutrition & lifestyle choices as well as chemical exposure such as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can throw out the delicate balance of these hormones. This can lead to a host of symptoms including monthly skin breakouts, irregular or heavy periods, PMS symptoms such as pain, bloating, mood swings and breast tenderness, fertility struggles and hot flashes associated with menopause.
Seed cycling seeks to restore this delicate hormone balance by harnessing the power and nutrient properties of pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. These seeds are consumed at specific times of your cycle to support the production and detoxification of estrogen and progesterone, our main sex hormones.
Their individual benefits have been categorized into Phase 1 (the follicular phase) which includes the consumption of pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds and Phase 2 (the luteal phase) consisting of sunflower and sesame seeds.
Luna: What are the stand out ingredients used by The Seed Cycle and why are they so powerful when seed cycling?
The Seed Cycle: The stand out ingredients are these 4, powerful seeds.
Phase 1: Ground pumpkin seeds and ground flaxseeds. These seeds deliver a powerful dose of Omega 3 fatty acids and essential nutrients including zinc and selenium. Together, these seeds naturally support healthy estrogen levels. Flaxseeds provide a great source of fibre and lignans which foster healthy estrogen metabolism and may prevent estrogen dominance.
Phase 2: Ground sunflower seeds and ground sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are a rich source of zinc which help boost progesterone production and also contain lignans that help block excess estrogen while progesterone rises. Plus, the sunflower seeds in phase 2 deliver a great source of selenium and Vitamin E which may assist the liver to detoxify any excess estrogen. When you begin to start cycling these seeds at specific times of the month, you support your body to adequately produce and detoxify our main sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. This is incredibly powerful as it utilizes food as medicine to establish healthy hormone balance whilst providing your body with the nutrients it needs in order to function optimally.
Luna: How long should people seed cycle for? Is there an amount of time you suggest to be the most beneficial? If this something we can do for extended periods of time?
The Seed Cycle: It is recommended to Seed Cycle for 3 menstrual cycles in order to see the best results. Depending on how long your menstrual cycles are, this may be approximately 3 months.
Seed Cycling is something you can do for extended periods of time and there is no harm in partaking in Seed Cycling long term as it is all natural. Our hormones require continual support and once you start Seed Cycling and see the benefits, you won’t want to stop.
We like to think of Seed Cycling as a tool you can use across all the transitions women go through including your first period, up until your last and long into post-menopause. You can incorporate it as part of your daily routine long term as you move through all stages of life.
Luna: What does seed cycling help with?
The Seed Cycle: Often when we look at premenstrual syndrome (PMS), it is mainly due to a hormone imbalance. PMS may show up as hormonal acne and skin breakouts, bloating, breast tenderness, mood changes, cramps and food cravings. By supporting and balancing your hormones, Seed Cycling can help with all of these.
It is also beneficial for supporting fertility and conception by regulating ovulation, it can reduce heavy, painful periods (which may support women with endometriosis) and even alleviate menopausal symptoms!
As a whole Seed Cycling can:
● Reduce PMS symptoms
● Improve skin and acne
● Regulate menstrual cycles
● Increase fertility
● Improve thyroid functions
● Stress management
● Mood support and mental health
● Improve Immune function
● Reduce period pain and discomfort
● Weight management
● Reduce food cravings
There was a recent study that came out too exhibiting the benefits of Seed Cycling for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which showed promising results including weight loss, ovarian cyst degeneration and improved hormone balance.
Luna: What are 3 ways you like to practice self-care on your period/throughout your menstrual cycle?
Sarina: Creating space in my calendar for when I have my period, this gives me more time to rest (it has taken me a long time to get comfortable with resting!)
Scheduling in more activities, meetings or social events when I know my energy will be the highest (e.g. during the follicular/ ovulatory phase).
Prioritizing my nutrition and ensuring I eat well. This looks like balanced meals throughout the day and tailoring my nutrition based on where I am in my cycle (this practice is called Cycle Syncing). For example during my bleed I ensure I get plenty of iron to replenish blood loss e.g. red meat and focus on light and fresh meals e.g. salads & smoothies to support ovulation.
Mel: I love this question as I am obsessed with self-care and supporting myself throughout my menstrual cycle. The three key practices I prioritize are:
Connecting with Nature: I'm a true sun seeker, and spending time outdoors in nature is incredibly rejuvenating for me. Whether it's a walk or simply laying out in the sun, being in natural surroundings fills up my cup and recharges my energy.
2Nutrition as a Foundation: I believe that what I eat plays a significant role in self-care. This is where I experience the most profound benefits. Staying consistent with my seed cycling routine is essential for hormonal balance, and I've integrated it seamlessly into my diet. Additionally, I ensure I'm getting enough protein to support my energy levels and overall health. One of my favourite daily rituals is enjoying a cup of Bulletproof coffee to kickstart my day.
Cycle-Synced Productivity: I've discovered that planning my work around my menstrual cycle is a game-changer. I schedule important events and speaking engagements around my ovulation phase when I feel most articulate and sparkly. This aligns with my peak energy and creativity. During my period, I purposefully schedule fewer events and focus on more administrative and easier tasks. This cycle-synced approach allows me to optimise my productivity, reduce stress, and nurture my well-being throughout the month.
Luna: What’s the biggest misconception about seed cycling?
The Seed Cycle: That it belongs in the ‘woo woo’ world. Seed Cycling is now an evidence based tool you can use to support your hormonal health that’s not just for hippies or spiritual gangsters. Yes we do bring the moon into it if you don’t have a regular cycle but there is still logic behind this- we promise! We have plenty of resources for the science and evidence behind Seed Cycling that can be found here.
Luna: What’s one piece of advice you would tell your younger self when it comes to your cycle?
Sarina: Be a little more curious and try to learn as much as you can about your hormonal health. Your menstrual cycle isn’t something to be ashamed or fearful of, but to be embraced and honored!
Mel: One piece of advice I would tell my younger self about my cycle is that menstrual cycle health isn't just about fertility or something to be addressed when you want to become pregnant. Understanding your cycle is key for all aspects of your well-being, and it's especially a crucial part of self-acceptance and self-love. To fully accept yourself, you need to embrace and love all of yourself, including your period. Your menstrual cycle is an integral part of who you are, and acknowledging its significance is a powerful step toward holistic self-acceptance and self-love.
Luna: Where does seed cycling originate from?
The Seed Cycle: Seed Cycling was originally born from its traditional use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Similarly to the research now, these traditions utilized the ground form of these 4 seeds across different times of the menstrual cycle as a way to support fertility and reduce menstrual irregularities. It also originates from the concept of ‘Food as Medicine-’ which refers to the knowledge that food and diet play an important role in disease prevention and management. Today, there are hormone specialists globally that utilize this protocol including Dr Jolene Brighton & Mark Hyman in the US.
To read more about The Seed Cycle, or try out the seeds for yourself you can head to their website - linked here.