Nature has given us a series of small but mighty seeds that can help promote hormonal balance. Organic, raw pumpkin, flax, sesame and sunflower seeds are incredibly nutrient-dense and contain vitamins, fats and minerals that are especially beneficial for alleviating premenstrual symptoms.
What is premenstrual syndrome?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a treatable condition in women characterised by burdensome symptoms, lasting from 3 days to a whopping 14 days (depending on the individual) before the menstruation. Symptoms include cramping, lowered libido, acne, fatigue, headaches, breast tenderness, anxiety and irritability. PMS is an indication of hormonal imbalance, typically excess oestrogen and insufficient progesterone. These hormones are essential for the female reproductive system: oestrogen thickens the womb lining in preparation for a fertilised egg, however when there is a build-up of excess oestrogen and the body does not clear out it sufficiently – due to poor nutrition, little exercise, toxin build-up, stress, etc. – PMS occurs.
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling is rotating between four different types of seeds at specific times during the menstrual cycle to harmonise hormonal health. The monthly cycle has four phases which vary in length from person to person – cycles can generally vary between 28 to 32 days, beginning with the menstrual phase (the first day of the bleed to approximately day 7), followed by the follicular phase (day 8 to day 13), the ovulatory phase (day 14 to day 20) and finally, the luteal phase (day 21 to day 28).
How to seed cycle?
During the menstrual and follicular phase, when oestrogen levels are elevated, consume 2 tablespoons of fresh, ground flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) and pumpkin seeds every day.
Flaxseeds are great sources of magnesium, omega-3 essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and phytoestrogens known as lignans. Lignans increases levels of the good oestrogen and a compound called sex hormone binding globulin, which assists in oestrogen balance by facilitating the removal of excess oestrogen from the body. ALA and lignans also contain anti-cancer properties. Omega-3 is an amazing anti-inflammatory and can reduce premenstrual pain and cramping. Flaxseeds are also high in fibre, necessary in relieving constipation, and studies have shown that magnesium lowers premenstrual symptoms, including irritability, anxiety and fatigue.
Pumpkin seeds contain an abundance of minerals: phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper, and B vitamins and protein. Iron is an essential nutrient for women to account for menstrual losses; increasing dietary iron intake through pumpkin seeds can prevent fatigue and enhance athletic performance, whilst zinc can prevent cramping.
The second half of the cycle consists of the ovulatory phase and luteal phase, at which to consume a tablespoon of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds daily.
Sesame seeds are an excellent source of protein, lignans, fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium. These amazing little seeds aid digestion, nourish the digestive tract and stimulate blood circulation which is vital for a healthy menstruation.
Sunflower seeds are a superb source of protein, vitamins E, B1, B5, B6 and B9, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and fibre. Magnesium and vitamin B6 combined decrease PMS symptoms, and vitamin B6 alone aids in oestrogen clearance and elevates progesterone, alleviating PMS symptoms.
Seed cycling recipe: Overnight Oats
Here is a simple, 5-minute recipe to prep the night before to consume the following day as a light breakfast or midday snack. It incorporates the nutritional powerhouses into your daily diet and also includes a host of other ingredients that are full of fibre, healthy fats, protein and a touch of natural sweetness to promote stable energy and blood sugar levels, regular bowel movements and beautiful looking skin.
Depending on which phase you are in, add a tablespoon of the seeds each
In a small jar, add all of the ingredients together and stir thoroughly until combined. Seal the jar with a lid and pop it in the fridge overnight. Enjoy the following day with a warm cup of herbal tea.
Disclaimer: This information does not constitute as medical advice. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider for advice regarding any medical condition. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or treat medical conditions based on this information.
The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods by Dr Michael Murray and Dr Joseph Pizzorno with Lara Pizzorno