First of all, what is seed cycling? It is an alternative medicine practice that is intended to regulate hormones by introducing specific seeds to your diet at intentional times in your cycle. To fully understand what seed cycling is and what the intended result would be for women with PCOS, we must first understand how the female cycle should work if everything is healthy and balanced.
Understanding What Should Be Happening
The first part of the cycle is when menstruation begins, or Cycle Day 1 (CD1). This is when the uterus releases it’s lining if a pregnancy has not implanted into the uterus wall. If there isn’t a pregnancy to support, the body decreases it’s progesterone and estrogen levels which triggers an increased production in FSH or Follicle Stimulating Hormone. This should allow an egg to begin to develop and mature while it prepares to be released for fertilization later on in the cycle. This is called the Follicular Phase.
The second portion of the cycle begins when ovulation occurs – which should be about 14 days after CD 1. When ovulation occurs, the egg is released to potentially become fertilized by sperm. When it is released, it also releases progesterone to signal that the body should start to prepare for a pregnancy. If pregnancy does not happen, the hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen decrease, the follicle withers and prepares to be released through menstruation.
Now, it is important to understand – that is the cycle process in a perfect world! For women with PCOS, the menstruation process can be disrupted at many different points. For some, CD 1 doesn’t come for months or even years, for others, maybe it means that they ovulate, but don’t produce enough progesterone to actually get the whole process rolling (this is where CD 3 bloodwork can come in handy if you are in the process of tracking down what exactly is going on in your body). Some women never ovulate! These are all symptoms of PCOS and should be taken into consideration when you are trying to figure out which point your body is struggling with.
How can seed cycling help women whose menstrual cycles do not look like the one depicted above? There are a few ways! Let’s dig into this idea further. So seed cycling is when you intentionally introduce specific seeds into your daily diets at certain times in your cycle. These specific seeds include Flax, Pumpkin, Sesame, and Sunflower seeds. These seeds are introduced in Two Phases.
In the FIRST PHASE beginning at CD 1, introduce 1 Tablespoon of fresh, raw, ground flax seed and 1 Tablespoon of fresh, raw ground pumpkin seeds to your diet. I like to throw my seeds in a coffee grinder and put them in my daily smoothies! You want to continue to eat these seeds every day until the day before you should be ovulating.
If you are a PCOS woman and don’t know when you are due to ovulate, I suggest beginning the seed cycling process with the next full or new moon in order to try to get your cycle synced correctly. More on that in another post 🙂
For the SECOND PHASE, beginning at CD 14, you will stop taking the flax and pumpkin, and switch to 1 Tablespoon of fresh, raw group sunflower seeds and 1 Tablespoon of fresh, raw sesame seeds. Again, grind them up and put them in your smoothie. You will continue this for about two weeks as well, until the day before your anticipated CD 1, or when your menstruation would or should begin.
So why these seeds and these times?
Flax and pumpkin seeds are considered to be supportive of estrogen production and use in the body, so while that egg is developing, we want to make sure we are supplementing what it would need to grow and mature in a healthy manner. Even if you aren’t trying to conceive, this can be an IMPERATIVE part in helping to get your PCOS under control. Sunflower and sesame seeds are considered to be supportive of progesterone production and will help the body in the second phase of your cycle.
How Do Flax Seeds Affect PCOS?
There have been a few studies done on the impact of flax seeds on the menstrual cycle. In a study of a 31 year old woman with PCOS, supplementing with flax seeds over the course of four months, it was proven to reduce her free testosterone and other androgens. Flax seeds contain lignans which have been proven to help reduce the amount of free radicals in humans, especially females! This is especially important in women with PCOS, because these free radicals are often what leads to our hormonal acne, hirusitism, and weight gain, among other things. The study showed a reduction in all of the woman’s symptoms associated with PCOS. (Nowak, et. al., 2007).
How Do Pumpkin Seeds Affect PCOS?
Pumpkin seeds contain numerous vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to women. Particularly, they contain lignans and also zinc. Zinc is an amazing vitamin that helps defend the body against infection, inflammation, and can also help reduce cramps caused by inflamed prostaglandins (Kelly).
How Do Sesame Seeds Affect PCOS?
While there are not a ton of studies done specifically on the role of sesame seeds in PCOS, they are high in vitamin e which allows the production of progesterone! They also do not increase the estrogen levels, but they do decrease androgens, which leads to benefits for women with PCOS.
How Do Sunflower Seeds Affect PCOS?
Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin e which helps to produce progesterone and also contain selenium and magnesium. They are “cardio proactive” which helps to lower cholesterol and overall risk of heart disease and heart attack (Srivastava, et. at., 2017).
WHERE TO START
- I like these Flax Seeds
- I like these Pumpkin Seeds
- I like these Sunflower Seeds
- I like these Sesame Seeds
Nowak, D. A., Snyder, D. C., Brown, A. J., & Demark-Wahnefried, W. (2007). The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Study. Current topics in nutraceutical research, 5(4), 177–181.
Kelly RW, Abel MH. Copper and zinc inhibit the metabolism of prostaglandin by the human uterus. Biol Reprod 1983;28:883–9.
Srivastava, Rachana & Minhas, Sonia & Khanna, Poonam. (2017). ROLE OF SEEDS IN PCOS. 5.