Seed cycle: what it consists of and what are its benefits

The seed cycle has become popular for its effects on hormonal health. Do you know what it consists of? Here we tell you everything about it.

Last update: October 23, 2021

The seed cycle, also called “Seed cycling”, is an alternative medicine method that consists of regulating hormones naturally. In particular, the intake of certain seeds is synchronized with the menstrual cycle. Its objective is to provide fatty acids, phytoestrogens and certain vitamins that contribute to the production of some hormones.

The idea is to give the body the nutrients it needs at each stage of the menstrual cycle. And it is that, beyond the bleeding, this period leads to a series of physical and mental changes that can be difficult to cope with. Here’s more on this approach.

What is the seed cycle?

The seed cycle is a practice in which the consumption of certain seeds in the diet is rotated, depending on the period of the menstrual cycle in which the woman is. This variety of foods make a contribution of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and phytoestrogens that help to produce, metabolize and release hormones.

To understand it better, you have to understand the menstrual cycle. This encompasses a series of processes and changes that all women go through each month. The body tries to prepare for a possible pregnancy. Therefore, eggs are produced with the help of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The production of estrogens and progesterone also occurs.

The latter are the most important, since they determine the follicular phase and the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. In the follicular phase, estrogen levels increase as part of the process and preparation to release the egg. This runs from day 1 to day 14.

In the luteal phase ovulation begins on day 14 until the start of the next menstruation. This is when progesterone increases to prepare the body for a possible pregnancy. As the ovum is not fertilized, it is expelled with the blood.

In this vein, what the seed cycle is trying to do is maintain a balance in each phase of the menstrual cycle in order for the body to have optimal hormonal activity.

The nutrients contained in some varieties of seeds help to balance hormonal health during the menstrual cycle.

What do the seeds contain that allow you to regulate the menstrual cycle?

Oilseeds such as linseed, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds are abundant in polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega 3, 6 and 9 series. Of these, linoleic, which is anti-inflammatory, stands out; and linolenic and oleic, which are part of the production of hormones.

They also contain complex vitamins B, A, E, and K. Its main minerals are potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. These nutrients can participate in the control and manufacture of hormones.

Among other things, they contain bioactive compounds like phytoestrogens. The pharmaceutical company López Luengo defines phytoestrogens as non-steroidal compounds of plant origin that, once ingested, are transformed into active hormones thanks to the action of intestinal bacteria.

On the other hand, in the magazine Farmacia Profesional they denote that some phytoestrogens, such as those of soy, demonstrate to have some type of estrogenic activity. Such is the case with isoflavones.

A study reveals that some oilseeds may have other types of phytoestrogens with medium or low estrogenic activity. Lignans and coumestrans are part of this group.

All this explains why the consumption of seeds is associated to a lower incidence of disease in Asian women. While the Western diet provides about 5 milligrams of phytoestrogens a day, the Asian diet provides 40 to 200 milligrams a day.

Benefits of the seed cycle

It is believed that the cycle of seeds can contribute to the relief of some symptoms of the menstrual cycle of women. Its benefits even seem to extend to women in menopausal and perimenopausal periods. However, more scientific evidence is still needed.

1. Control of the menstrual cycle

Dr. Daysi Navarro suggests that the consumption of some seeds is useful for women with irregular periods. In addition to phytoestrogens, The seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids and oleic acid that balance hormonal health. Therefore, they optimize the functioning of the menstrual cycle.

2. Prevention of premenstrual inflammation

The National University of Naturopathic Medicine points out that regular consumption of seeds balances hormones and helps reduce premenstrual symptoms such as inflammation. In addition, it harmonizes the hypothalamus with the pituitary and the ovary.

3. Favorable effect on bone health

A special article on osteoporosis in postmenopausal women reveals that the seed cycle favors bone resorption through increased proliferation and osteoblastic differentiation. Consequently, this approach is considered a good alternative to promote bone health.

However, it must be taken into account that the available data is still limited and there are few clinical studies in humans. Therefore, it should not be a first-choice remedy.

4. Treatment of climacteric symptoms

The phytoestrogens provided by the seeds are allies for the control of the symptoms of menopause. Specifically, they contribute to the reduction of hot flashes, since they act as estrogen agonists in the thermoregulatory center of the hypothalamus.

One group of researchers observed that of 190 women treated with phytoestrogens, 80 to 82% reduced their number of hot flashes. It was also associated with an improvement in sleep quality and a decrease in nervousness and depression.

What are the most used seeds?

Some varieties of seeds stand out more than others for their benefits in the menstrual period. Therefore, they are the ones used in the seed cycle. We detail them below:

  • Pumpkin: They provide a series of minerals such as zinc, which improves the levels of the hormone testosterone. They also contain magnesium and the amino acid tryptophan, which together improve sleep to maintain hormonal balance.
  • Sesame: helps to block excess estrogens and maintain hormonal balance. Coumestran or coumestrol is the most common phytoestrogen. It influences female hormones, regulates inflammation, and promotes the metabolism of sex hormone precursors such as cholesterol.
  • Linen: it is abundant in lignans, also called estrogen modulators.
  • Sunflower: contributes to reducing estrogens in the luteal phase through coumestrol.
Sunflower seeds are rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Its intake is associated with the balance of estrogen levels.

How to implement the seed cycle?

We already know that the menstrual cycle is divided into the follicular phase and the luteal phase. Basically, in each of these phases different seeds are ingested.

Follicular phase (1-14 days)

In this phase, progesterone levels tend to drop. Thus, the consumption of pumpkin seeds is recommended. These, in turn, promote good testosterone production and intervene in the production of melatonin. It is even believed that they help improve mood, since they optimize the secretion of serotonin.

Other seeds that you can use in this first stage are flaxseed and chia seeds. Both contain polyunsaturated fats that help make hormones, as well as being anti-inflammatory and regulatory. They also contain mucilages that promote intestinal health.

  • Ideally, eat a tablespoon of flaxseed and another of pumpkin. in the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle.

Luteal phase (14-28 days)

In this phase, estrogens begin to decline, while progesterone increases. Therefore, it is convenient to ingest other types of seeds. One of the recommended varieties is sesame, which helps to avoid excess estrogens. It is a seed abundant in calcium and vitamin B6, necessary to balance the menstrual cycle.

Another ideal variety is the sunflower seed, which stands out for being a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and calcium. It is believed that its intake supports the liver in the task of processing hormonal fluctuation. Furthermore, it appears to affect progesterone activation.

  • It is recommended to eat a tablespoon of sesame seeds and another of sunflower seeds.

Note: In both phases, the seeds must be raw, fresh and ground.

What to remember about the seed cycle?

To date, the evidence on the effectiveness of the seed cycle remains limited. While some studies have supported the benefits of some seeds in regulating the menstrual cycle, more trials are still required. In any case, These foods are healthy and take place within the framework of a healthy and varied diet.

In case of having problems with the menstrual cycle, such as heavy bleeding, irregularities or strong symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor. Once the case has been evaluated, the professional will be able to guide towards other habits and treatments that help to control it.

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