What if I told you, you have something sitting in your kitchen cabinets right now that can help balance hormones, reduce symptoms of PMS, boost fertility, and reset your cycle?
If you have sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds, then you have the formula for setting your hormones straight. Seed cycling, the process of eating different types of seeds at different times during the month, is something that I teach all of the women who seek me out for fertility support. The best part? It works no matter what stage of life you are in. You can learn it today, and benefit from it the rest of your life: for fertility, postpartum, pre-menopause, and post menopause support.
While the literature doesn’t outline the definition of seed cycling quite yet, there are tons of studies that make a strong case for using seeds to optimize hormones. The main takeaway? Seeds are extra rich in nutrients, vitamins, healthy fats, protein, and fiber that your body needs in order to make, balance, and excrete hormones. (1)
Let’s take a look at what the research says….
Seeds are high in Zinc, especially pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Here is a summary of what the research says about Zinc and your cycles:
- Zinc is essential for hormone production, ovulation, regulating cycles, and making progesterone for pregnancy. (2)
- Zinc supplementation reduces cramps. (3)
- The pill depletes zinc, and copper IUDs can cause imbalances in zinc levels. (4)
- Zinc has been shown to improve complaints related to our periods including reducing pain, PMS, acne, irregular cycles, improving mood, and hair loss. In fact, one study showed that zinc was as effective as the pill at reducing painful periods. (5)
Take a look at the conclusion from this study from the International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, that says when Zinc is supplemented before your period, it reduces the intensity of cramping.
Seeds are a great source of Essential Fatty Acids, especially flax seeds. This is what you should know about the studies of essential fatty acids and their impact on hormones.
- Essential fatty acids reduce cramping, back pain, and abdominal pain, even requiring less ibuprofen use according to one study. (6)
- Essential fatty acids increase progesterone and improves ovulation in animal studies. (7) (8) (9)
- Essential fatty acids are important for balancing reproductive hormone levels. (10)
- Essential fatty acids reduce symptoms of PMS. (11)
Take a look at the results of this study pulled from the Journal of Endocrinology that found women who took 1 tablespoon of flax seed powder (which is high in omega 3’s) daily balanced their estrogen and progesterone levels, and improved ovulation.
We can’t talk about seeds without talking about their phytoestrogen content, all four of these super star seeds are *rich* in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens look almost like our body’s estrogen. They work by helping to block any of our body’s extra estrogen that is hanging around. While some estrogen is helpful, extra estrogen can cause inflammation and wreak havoc on our system.
- Phytoestrogens balance our body’s estrogen levels, and improve our body’s ability to get rid of estrogens that we no longer need. (12) (13)
- Phytoestrogens improve mood (14)
- Phytoestrogens improve ovulation. (15)
- Phytoestrogens reduce symptoms of PMS like breast pain and hot flashes. (16)
This study from Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility found that phytoestrogens like flax seed helped lengthen cycles, specifically by extending the 2nd half of the cycle also known as the luteal phase. (The reason why this is so significant, is that pregnancy can’t occur without the 2nd half of the cycle being intact.)
Sunflower seeds are the number one dietary sources of Vitamin E…The. Lead. out of all other nuts and seeds. Vitamin E was discovered around 100 years ago when it was found to be the key nutrient for pregnancy in animal studies, termed the “fertility factor”. It’s a powerful antioxidant, which acts like a cleaning crew, to clean up any messes that are lying around. This is what we know about Vitamin E:
- Vitamin E helps to support the production of progesterone.
- It helps make the uterine lining thicker. Which improves pregnancy rates for women with unexplained infertility. (17)
- It’s used in combination with anti-cancer drugs to prevent damage in the ovaries. (17)
- Low levels were associated with discolored uterine tissues in animal studies. (17)
- Vitamin E improves the development of embryos in animal studies. (17)
In this research article pulled from Antioxidants Medical Journal, Vitamin E helped protect against developing diseases related to reproduction.
Just like phytoestrogens, all four of our magic seeds are brimming with Selenium. You may have heard Selenium is important for thyroid health, but it does so much more than that. Check it out:
- Selenium detoxes excess estrogens out of the body by supporting the liver, especially during the luteal phase when estrogen levels should naturally be declining so progesterone can take over. (18)
- Selenium enhances the production of all female hormones needed for a regular cycle. (18)
- It is the main nutrient needed by the thyroid gland itself. It’s also used to make thyroid hormones turn on. (19)
- Absolutely essential for ovarian health, because Selenium creates a healthy environment for the egg, and plays a critical role as an antioxidant. (19)
Taken from the Journal of Trace Elements of Medicine and Biology, this research article highlights the importance of Selenium not only for female reproductive health, but male reproductive health as well.
Are you completely amazed at the powerful punch packed into these tiny seeds? Sign up for my email list here to receive my Top 10 Tips to get these seeds into your diet, and enjoy other monthly freebies exclusive only to my email community.
- Hodges RE, Minich DM. Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. J Nutr Metab. 2015;2015:760689. doi:10.1155/2015/760689
- Holesh JE, Bass AN, Lord M. Physiology, Ovulation. [Updated 2021 May 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441996/
- Nasiadek M, Stragierowicz J, Klimczak M, Kilanowicz A. The Role of Zinc in Selected Female Reproductive System Disorders. Nutrients. 2020;12(8):2464. Published 2020 Aug 16. doi:10.3390/nu12082464
- Palmery M, Saraceno A, Vaiarelli A, Carlomagno G. Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Jul;17(13):1804-13. PMID: 23852908.
- Teimoori B, Ghasemi M, Hoseini ZS, Razavi M. The Efficacy of Zinc Administration in the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea. Oman Med J. 2016 Mar;31(2):107-11. doi: 10.5001/omj.2016.21. PMID: 27168920; PMCID: PMC4861396.
- Moghadamnia AA, Mirhosseini N, Abadi MH, Omranirad A, Omidvar S. Effect of Clupeonella grimmi (anchovy/kilka) fish oil on dysmenorrhoea. East Mediterr Health J. 2010 Apr;16(4):408-13. PMID: 20795425.
- Bauer JL, Kuhn K, Bradford AP, Al-Safi ZA, Harris MA, Eckel RH, Robledo CY, Malkhasyan A, Johnson J, Gee NR, Polotsky AJ. Reduction in FSH Throughout the Menstrual Cycle After Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Young Normal Weight but not Obese Women. Reprod Sci. 2019 Aug;26(8):1025-1033. doi: 10.1177/1933719119828099. Epub 2019 Feb 17. PMID: 30773100; PMCID: PMC6974596.
- Zachut M, Dekel I, Lehrer H, Arieli A, Arav A, Livshitz L, Yakoby S, Moallem U. Effects of dietary fats differing in n-6:n-3 ratio fed to high-yielding dairy cows on fatty acid composition of ovarian compartments, follicular status, and oocyte quality. J Dairy Sci. 2010 Feb;93(2):529-45. doi: 10.3168/jds.2009-2167. PMID: 20105525.
- Coyral-Castel S, Ramé C, Fatet A, Dupont J. Effects of unsaturated fatty acids on progesterone secretion and selected protein kinases in goat granulosa cells. Domest Anim Endocrinol. 2010 May;38(4):272-83. doi: 10.1016/j.domaniend.2009.12.002. Epub 2010 Jan 13. PMID: 20097509.
- Al-Safi ZA, Liu H, Carlson NE, Chosich J, Harris M, Bradford AP, Robledo C, Eckel RH, Polotsky AJ. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Lowers Serum FSH in Normal Weight But Not Obese Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Jan;101(1):324-33. doi: 10.1210/jc.2015-2913. Epub 2015 Nov 2. PMID: 26523525; PMCID: PMC4701838.
- Harel Z, Biro FM, Kottenhahn RK, Rosenthal SL. Supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the management of dysmenorrhea in adolescents. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Apr;174(4):1335-8. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(96)70681-6. PMID: 8623866.
- Phipps, W. R., Martini, M. C., Lampe, J. W., Slavin, J. L., & Kurzer, M. S. (1993). Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 77(5), 1215-1219. https://doi.org/10.1210/jcem.77.5.8077314
- Gossell-Williams, M., Hyde, C., Hunter, T., Simms-Stewart, D,. Fletcher, H., McGrowder, D., Walters, C.A. (2011). Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study. Climacteric, 14(5):558-64.
- Soares CN, Zitek B. Reproductive hormone sensitivity and risk for depression across the female life cycle: a continuum of vulnerability?. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2008;33(4):331-343.
- Phipps WR, Martini MC, Lampe JW, Slavin JL, Kurzer MS. Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 1993; 77(5): 1215-1219. doi: 10.1210/jcem.77.5.8077314
- GOSS ES AL., 2000à consuming daily muffin with 25 grams of flax seed x 3 mos had significantly reduced breast pain at the beginning of the menstrual cycle.
- Mohd Mutalip SS, Ab-Rahim S, Rajikin MH. Vitamin E as an Antioxidant in Female Reproductive Health. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018;7(2):22. Published 2018 Jan 26. doi:10.3390/antiox7020022
- Pieczyńska J, Grajeta H. The role of selenium in human conception and pregnancy. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2015 Jan;29:31-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2014.07.003. Epub 2014 Jul 19. PMID: 25175508.