Y’all who have been following me for awhile would know how much I love tahini. As in literally tahini on anything and everything…okay, okay, maybe not everything but you know what I mean. There are two weeks of each month where I do not consume tahini or there sesame products and that makes me relatively sad. Those who have also been following me for awhile would know that I follow seed-cycling principles. What is that? I hear many of you ask. Let me briefly explain!
Seed cycling involves the principles of consuming certain seeds at different times of a woman’s natural menstrual cycle. It is believed that practicing in this way assists in balancing, supporting and regulating our hormones to maintain a balance. I, along with many women around the world was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) over six years ago and I luckily resolved it by utilising healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle principles. Since then, I have been open to natural remedies to assist in maintaining healthy hormone levels since and that is why I practice seed cycling- with great results.
In the perfect world, a “normal” menstrual cycle goes for 28 days and should not involve any negative symptoms such as those associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Think: mood swings, depression, anxiety, poor digestion, headaches, bloating, breast tenderness etc.
However we do not live in a perfect world- surrounded by hormone-disruptors in the form of food and environment, radiation, stress, poor sleep cycles, and other health issues to some. When the hormones become out of balance, either due to altered metabolism or production, issues involving menstruation and conception may occur including endometriosis, PCOS, infertility, dysmenorrhea and/or amenorrhea. Specifically, oestrogen and progesterone which play vital roles in our menstrual cycles as well as preconception and conception.
Oestrogen during the menstrual cycle is a hormone produced and released by the ovaries and its functions include:
⋆assisting in the growth of a follicle monthly
⋆preventing a surge of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) at a certain time so only one mature egg is matured and released
⋆stimulating the release of luteinising hormone (LH)
⋆maintaining vaginal lubrication as well as uterine mucous
⋆assisting in thickening of the endometrial lining during the follicular and pre-ovulatory phase
Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries (and eventually, the placenta of a pregnant woman) as well as the adrenal glands. It is the antagonist of oestrogen therefore helps maintain healthy levels of it in the system. The levels of progesterone are highest during the luteal phase of the cycle and its roles include:
⋆preparing the body for conception
⋆regulating the menstrual cycle
⋆stimulating the endometrium to release specific proteins for a potential fertilised egg to be nourished
Apart from being nutrient-dense, the seeds used during seed cycling provide support for the follicular and luteal phases of the cycle and assist in balancing specific hormones. Flaxseeds/linseeds and pepitas/pumpkin seeds are consumed during the first half of the cycle -the follicular phase. This phase includes the time from day 1 of your cycle until day 14, when one usually ovulates. Oestrogen levels gradually increase to prepare the uterine lining to thicken for hopeful implantation of a fertilised egg.
Flaxseeds/linseeds are renowned to be phyto-oestrogenics and also contain lignans which play a role in oestrogen moderation. They assist in preventing an excess of oestrogen in the system which may lead to issues related to oestrogen dominance. Pepitas/pumpkin seeds contain zinc- an important mineral of many functions including progesterone production and release as well as oestrogen moderation.
This is followed by sunflower seeds and sesame seeds in the second half of the cycle- the luteal phase. This is the phase that includes ovulation (Day 14) until the commencement of your next period. During this phase, progesterone levels are increasing on a daily basis in hopes of supporting a fertilised egg and eventually, a healthy pregnancy. If conception does not occur, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone drop and menstruation occurs.
Sunflower seeds contain selenium- a mineral and antioxidant that aids in detoxification of hormones and toxins. Please note that selenium can be toxic in large doses so keep that in mind if consuming brazil nuts (max. 3 a day) or supplements. Sesame seeds also contain lignans.
Together, the seeds work together to maximise oestrogen and progesterone production during the follicular and luteal phase respectively as well as ensure their ideal metabolism and excretion in the endocrine system. They are a protein powerhouse and contain anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids (EFAs) which are… essential in hormone regulation by the endocrine system. Additionally, they are high in plantbased protein, fibre and antioxidants which is vital in metabolism and excretion of excess hormones and toxins.
Although many sources state that grinding the seeds freshly is ideal for optimal bioavailability of the nutrients, I simply eat them whole with the exception of flaxseeds which I consume in the form of flaxmeal. A minimum of one tablespoon daily is recommended although, sometimes I consume more… have you tried activated pumpkin seeds?! Try stopping at a tablespoon!
I’ll add a simple yet delicious hemp seed dressing below to replace my beloved tahini dressing during the luteal phase. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of plantbased, complete protein as well as essential fatty acids. During the follicular phase, I’ll replace the hemp seeds with organic tahini.
3 tablespoons organic hemp hearts/seeds
1. 5 tablespoons of filtered water
Juice and zest of half an organic lemon
1 clove of garlic
Pinch of salt
Pinch of turmeric *optional, but hello anti-inflammatories!
-Simply blend all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy and serve with organic sweet potato chips or nourishbowls. The dressing may 3/4 days in the fridge and is easily adaptable.
❀ Please see a medical practitioner regarding any issues prior to commencing any natural remedy or treatment. I know what works for me however it may be different with other individuals.
❀The seeds are ideally consumed crushed but I personally don’t… I just chew very well 😉
This is probably the most informative and complex blog post that I have added on the blog. Let me know if you would like more of these posts as I am continuously learning natural remedies during my nursing career and naturopathic studies.
Much love and light,
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
― Marilyn Monroe.