Tag Archives: nutrition and hormones

Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance – Gentle Ways to Restore Normal

Seed cycling for hormone balance is one of those things that seems far too simple to ever work, but work it does! It’s very gentle nutritional support that encourages your cycle to follow it’s natural rhythm and gives the hormones gentle nudges in the right direction.  Best of all, it’s done with whole foods, not with supplements or drugs, so it’s entirely natural, simple, inexpensive and gives you a whole different way to keep in contact with your body. Not only that, it can be helpful in situations that you might not think of right away – like for women post menopause, and for men looking to boost fertility. Yup, men.

What is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling is a gentle way to help your body balance your hormones naturally by adding different seeds into your diet at different phases of your menstrual cycle. Simply adding seeds like flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds to your diet at different times in your cycle can promote healthy hormones by encouraging your body to either produce or detoxify certain hormones. It is literally using foods to either promote estrogen detoxification, in the first half of your cycle, or to increase progesterone production in the second.

Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance – What Does That Actually  Help?

Seed cycling for hormone balance helps your body to smoothly find it’s way to a more normal balance and therefore can help with almost any symptom related to hormones including:

  • Acne
  • PMS
  • Irregular Cycle
  • Infertility or sub-fertility
  • Too light or too heavy bleeding
  • Peri-menopause
  • Post-menopausal hormone symptoms like low libido or depression
  • PCOS
  • Irregular cycle

Now – having said that, seed cycling for hormone balance is NOT a quick fix – you’re working to re-establish the rhythms of your body and that takes time.  Typically you will start noticing changes after 3-4 months (3-4 cycles) but the great news is that because this is simply using foods it is safe to combine with other therapies and can help to enhance their actions.  If you have one of the more serious hormonal issues like PCOS, then probably seed cycling isn’t going to fix it, but it can certainly help other measures to work better and help your body to find it’s rhythm.

Quick Review of Your Cycle and The Moon (And Why  Those Two Things Go Together):

This is how your cycle and the moon go together. Ovulate on full moon (day 14) and bleed on the new moon (day 1)

This is how your cycle and the moon go together. Ovulate on full moon (day 14) and bleed on the new moon (day 1)

At heart, you are all wild animals.  You love to pretend to be civilized and to wear a veneer of the tame, but truly and deeply your body belongs to the forest. In the “wild state” of being you wouldn’t have been exposed to artificial light and so very powerful signals were sent to your brain by the changing light of the moon, and this was one of the ways your body kept rhythms, including your hormone rhythms.  Women’s typical hormone cycles are 28 days, which happens to be the length of a full lunar cycle as well (actually 28 and a fraction days). This is not a coincidence! You are designed to be at peak fertility, meaning ovulation, at the full moon (coincidentally when nights are brightest and you’re more likely to enjoy the sight of a partner). Fertility is lowest, meaning menstruation, at the new moon when nights are darkest.  Men’s fertility follows women’s in this scenario so that we’re all most fertile at the same time – it works best that way for the baby-making.




How Do I Seed Cycle?

Seed Cycling for hormone balance adds seeds into your diet following the rhythm of your body or the moon.

Seed Cycling for hormone balance adds seeds into your diet following the rhythm of your body or the moon.

This is literally eating different seeds for different parts of your monthly rhythm because they help to restore your body to balance.  You’ll recall that for women our hormones change in a predictable way with our cycle.  Men have fewer hormone fluctuations through the month, but their peak fertility still should match with women’s – and everyone’s peak fertility is typically at the full moon (we are wild animals underneath it all).

Day 1 – 14 (Follicular phase):

1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Day 15 – 28 (Luteal phase):

1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Eat your 2 tablespoons of mixed seeds every day according to your cycle. The seeds should be ground in a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or vitamix and added to smoothies, soups, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, salad or however else it’s easy to get them into you.  Also of those four seeds try not to add them in other times as snacks because it makes things confusing- so snacking on sunflower seeds on your flax/pumpkin days is probably not going to help your body to find it’s rhythm.

If you feel like you need a little extra push in the right direction, then you can also add supportive oils to this picture.  Fish oil, about 1500 mg combined EPA and DHA can be added to Days 1 – 14 and Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) can be added to days 15 – 28.

Why These Seeds?

The pumpkin and flax seed combo is a potent one to help your body detoxify the extra estrogen that can plague this time of the month (the lignans especially from the flax seeds bind to excess estrogen and help your body to eliminate it) High zinc levels in pumpkin seeds prevent the estrogen from converting to harmful forms of testosterone and also prime your body for progesterone production which will happen in the second half of the cycle.

The sunflower and sesame combo used in the luteal phase of the cycle has a much lighter dose of lignans from the sesame seeds, but is rich in zinc and selenium which helps progesterone production.  These seeds are also a rich source of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid which can convert to gamma linolenic acid, which also helps the balance between progesterone and estrogen.

The seeds should be organic and raw if  possible and ground fresh every day or two just because the oils in the seeds can go rancid if they’re ground for too long.  You can add the seeds in anywhere that it’s easy for you and if you completely hate eating seeds you can mix them into a small glass of juice and gulp it down.

If you’re working on getting pregnant and need more information about how seed cycling and pregnancy go together then read this post – seeds are a tremendous support to your own little sprout. 🙂

The Big Picture of Seed Cycling

The big picture of seed cycling for hormone balance. Because your cycle follows the moon.

The big picture of seed cycling for hormone balance. Because your cycle follows the moon.

If you want a handout form – it’s right here:  Seed Cycle for Hormone Balance

Also – if you don’t know the moon’s current phase, here’s that info. Thanks reader Zahra for reminding me that this isn’t here!

CURRENT MOON



Finding Your Food Sensitivity

I am a huge believer in the food sensitivity problem, largely because finding and eliminating a food sensitivity has literally changed my life. That sounds really cliché, but it’s actually true. Just keep reading and I’ll explain.

What is a Food Sensitivity?

Food sensitivities are a little bit mysterious, but one thing we know for sure is that it isn’t an allergy in the conventional sense.  If you eat a peanut and swell up and have to go to the hospital, that isn’t a food sensitivity. That’s a food allergy and it’s pretty easy to spot (just look for the ambulance and the disgruntled school nurse wielding an epi-pen.) Food sensitivity is allergy’s sneakier, tricksier second-cousin.  Your immune system is reacting to a food, but it’s not reacting in a huge dramatic way that gives you a clue to what’s happening.  It’s also not reacting immediately so you can put it all together in a nice simple way, like peanut + me = badness.  Instead, it’s a vague, ambiguous process that can’t be identified through normal means – you have to actually be your own science experiment, and god knows that’s fun.  Actually, I’m a bit of a geek, so I do *love* any kind of science experiment.

Eating a food that you’re sensitive to create a slow-moving background level of inflammation that just keeps your body irritated enough to make whatever else might be going on worse.  Everybody’s body has a weak spot – some place where they’re most likely to break down – and that’s where the low-level inflammation from a food sensitivity hits.  It just creates inflammation that people say is just “normal” for them, or just “aging” or something that’s “in their family.” Uh-huh.  So – here’s my story:




I grew up being a bit of a (read: ENORMOUS) tomboy.  The things I liked doing were all a little rough-and-tumble like hiking and camping and building things and riding horses and skiing into trees and dancing for hours on end. When I started having joint pain pretty young I just assumed it was because I road-tested my body and that it was “normal” (did you spot the dead-giveaway?) Yep. It’s also “in my family” to have joint pain, so there’s that.  Here’s the thing: when joint pain starts at around 6 years of age, it’s only going to go downhill.  By the time I got out of med-school I was having pain that made me feel like an 80-year-old woman and to shuffle when I first got out of bed.  It may occur to you that this isn’t, perhaps, “normal.”

Me, being a tomboy. Before discovering my food sensitivity Me, busy being a tomboy. This was before discovering my food sensitivity.

I had a great patient at that time and I was happily telling her all about how to discover her own food sensitivities at home, which involves the being-your-own-guinea-pig thing.  We’ll talk about it in a minute,  but it is a little involved.  Anyway, I’m explaining all of this to her and she looks me dead in the eye and says “this is the hardest thing anyone has ever asked me to do. Have you done it?” After which there was a pause, then a somewhat reluctant “no” from me.  The bottom line is that she agreed to test her food sensitivities if I would test mine.  Sigh.

So, I did.  As it turns out when I eat wheat I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck – but not until the next day.  So the day I eat wheat I feel great and have no troubles at all, then the next day I wake up and can hardly move. I’m achy (like 6/10 pain), stuffy, puffy and swollen and pretty darn irritable. If I stay away from wheat I actually don’t have that.  Huh.  Huge thanks to that patient, by the way, to whom I owe a lot of health.

Could I have a Food Sensitivity?

Yep, you could.  Pretty much everyone could. That’s the strange thing about food sensitivities. It can be a food you were raised with, that you’ve always eaten, that has always been a favorite and it could still be causing you a tremendous amount of trouble. Here are some general symptoms and conditions that I’ve seen associated with food sensitivities (not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination):

  • Pain of any kind including arthritis, neuralgia, fibromyalgia, gout.
  • Mood disorders including depression, anxiety, mood swings, and OCD.
  • Behavioral disorders like ADD, ADHD, oppositional-defiance, outbursts and anger issues.
  • Digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, indigestion, gallbladder sludge and stomach pain.
  • Hormone issues like hypothyroid, PCOS, irregular cycles, low sperm count, diabetes.
  • Autoimmune disorders like lupus, hashimotos thyroiditis, Behcet’s, psoriasis.
  • Skin problems like eczema, hives, itching and acne
  • General issues including allergies, fatigue, weight gain, and swelling.

Finding Your Food Sensitivities (or, Being Your Own Guinea pig)

Guinea Pig (pretend), just like you.

This is actually a pretend Guinea pig, but since you will only be a pretend Guinea pig too, it seemed appropriate. If you really want one of these, you can buy it here.

Testing your food sensitivities is a simple process, but it does take some work – mostly in reading labels. Here’s what you do:

  1. Eliminate: Eliminate the food you’re testing COMPLETELY for 14 days – this means read your labels because wheat, corn, dairy and soy are in all kinds of things that you wouldn’t suspect.
  2. Challenge: Enjoy the heck out of the food you’re testing for a day.  If you’re testing wheat then have wheat day. Eat some waffles and pasta and a great french bread with a ton of butter.
  3. Observe: Like any other good experiment you have to be a careful observer. After your challenge day, take the food you’re testing back out of your diet for three or four days and watch to see what happens in your body.  For most people, the fireworks start the day after challenge day, but sometimes it’s even more delayed than that. Your body will tell you clearly if you’re sensitive to something.
  4. Retest: This isn’t actually necessary, but if you’re like me you’ll go through exhaustive mental gymnastics to convince yourself that you aren’t actually reacting to that food (my big rationalization was that I actually got a flu, which coincidentally started the day after wheat day.) So if you don’t believe the reaction the first time, then after your observation period, have another challenge day.  This time, believe your body when it tells you it’s sensitive (I could rationalize one well-timed flu but two is too much).

What Should I Test First?

The big four food sensitivity foods are:

Wheat (but it’s good to test Gluten too), Dairy, Corn and Soy

And those are in everything so read your labels!! Look in weird places like soy sauce (which has wheat), and salad dressings (which have everything).

The next most popular foods to react to are:

Nightshades (tomato, potato, peppers, eggplants), Citrus (lemons, limes, grapefruit), Beef and Chocolate

The great thing is that you can eliminate and challenge one food at a time or if you want to do it all at once you can just eliminate everything and go down to a really simple diet and then re-introduce foods one at a time.  This is a choose-your-own-adventure type of experiment.

I would highly encourage anyone who is having health problems to start testing themselves for food sensitivities – it truly does make all the difference in the world. For me, I went from a roughly 6/10 daily pain level to a 1-2/10. That is pretty freaking awesome – especially since I don’t have to take any drugs or supplements to do it.  As a side bonus, my allergies dropped down to almost nothing – I don’t take allergy medications except for the occasional mold-mix on days when Austin is literally covered in mold.