I’ve been on a journey to balancing my hormones after an experiment gone wrong with a particular progesterone cream. If you checked out my last post on hormone balancing, you would know that I’ve been diving into something called seed cycling; a way to use the natural estrogenic effects of nuts and seeds in tandem with the phases of the moon, to reestablish hormonal balance. It might sound a bit woo woo but I promise it’s a real thing!
So far I think I’ve noticed a few changes, but I’ll wait until I’ve finished my 90-day trial to get into the nitty gritty of what’s been happening. What I will say though is I think it’s working!
A Quick Rundown on Seed Cycling
Historically, a woman’s cycle is closely linked with the phases of the moon. Menstruation would start on the new moon and ovulation would happen on the full moon.
Seed cycling uses specific seeds with hormone balancing properties that emulate this naturally occurring cycle of the moon.
During the Follicular Phase which covers the first day of your period through ovulation (new moon through full moon), ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are consumed daily to help balance out excess estrogen. The omega-3 fatty acids in these seeds aid the body in transmitting hormones throughout the body easily, while the high zinc content of pumpkin seeds prevent estrogen from converting to harmful forms of testosterone. They also prepare the body for progesterone release.
During the Luteal Phase from ovulation until the first day of your next period (full moon to new moon), ground sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are consumed to raise and balance out progesterone levels. The rich source of linoleic acid in these seeds helps prevent excess estrogen from being recirculated in the body and further balances progesterone and estrogen levels.
Seed cycling for three or more months straight is said to rebalance your menstrual cycle, lessen painful cramps, lessen heavy bleeding, improve mood, clear acne, ease PMS, and alleviate PCOS and Endometriosis symptoms.
Can You Eat Other Nuts and Seeds While Seed Cycling?
One thing I’ve come across while seed cycling is whether or not you can enjoy other nuts and seeds besides the pumpkin/flax and sunflower/sesame during treatment. Many of us enjoy our nut butters, seed crackers, and a handful of nuts as a snack on the go, but can you enjoy these without hampering your results?
From what I can find, most tree nuts are fairly hormone neutral. I’ve gathered some info on how many micrograms of phytoestrogens are present in 100 grams (4oz) of raw nuts.
• Almonds – 112
• Brazil nuts – 887
• Cashews – 182
• Hazelnut – 80
• Macadamia nuts – I couldn’t find this information anywhere
• Peanuts – 173
• Pecans – 51
• Pistachios – 126
• Pine nuts – 103
• Walnuts – 175
As you can see, brazil nuts have a much higher phytoestrogen content than other tree nuts. In fact, if you are allergic to sunflower or sesame seeds, eating 2 brazil nuts may be an effective alternative along with taking pumpkin seeds for the zinc since we know zinc helps the body release progesterone. You would also need to take a source of linoleic acid (typically this is safflower oil) to further emulate the balance created by sunflower and sesame seeds. This linoleic acid is essential because it converts into gamma linoleic acid which is crucial for keeping estrogen and progesterone in balance.
Seeds on the other hand can have quite a bit of phytoestrogens present and should be consumed mindfully while seed cycling. However, you would not want to eat sunflower and sesame seeds during the follicular phase of your cycle just as you would not want to eat pumpkin seeds and flax during your luteal phase.
Here is the phytoestrogen content of popular seeds:
• Pumpkin seeds – 539
• Sunflower seeds – 111
• Chia seeds – trace amounts
• Flax seeds – 23
• Hemp seeds – I couldn’t find a definitive answer on this, but many sources say hemp seeds alter hormones and should be avoided during treatment.
Many seeds also contain a lot of lignans which bind to excess estrogen and block it. If you are someone with low estrogen levels to begin with, this could cause a lot of trouble.
Here are seeds with the most lignans in micrograms/100g (4oz) of raw seeds:
• Flax seeds – 301,129
• Sesame seed – 39,348
• Sunflower seed – 891
• Poppy seeds – 10
• Chia seeds – multiple sources say chia seeds do not contain a rich source of lignans. Based on this, I advise you not to replace flaxseeds in your protocol with chia seeds as others have claimed)
Can You Eat Other Nuts and Seeds While Seed Cycling? – My Thoughts
It’s been incredibly difficult to find extensive information on this topic, but what I can say is it would be best not to indulge in too many nuts and seeds while seed cycling. If your diet requires overt fats, avocados and coconut oil are great options to use until your hormones are balanced. Even then, consuming too many nuts and seeds could alter your hard earned results.
What do you think? Has eating other nuts and seeds while seed cycling affected your results? Please let me know in the comments!
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