If you routinely experience period pain during menstruation, you’re absolutely not alone. Studies say that period pain affects anywhere from 60 to 90% of women, regardless of age or race. It’s a pressing problem for so many of us, not just because of the pain but also what comes with it: the inability to work or play, gastrointestinal issues, dizziness, headaches and of course, nausea and bloating.
That’s what makes seed cycling so exciting: by simply adding some simple seeds to your meals, you could alleviate your period pain and even make menstruation lighter or shorter.
Studies are thin on the ground, and researchers are still getting around to proving its efficacy, but plenty of women swear by this method, especially women with PCOS. It’s also incredibly easy to incorporate into your everyday routine – no funny rituals required.
Seed Cycling in the Follicular Phase
From menstruation to ovulation, oestrogen levels are high. An excess of the hormone can cause bloating, tender breasts and even irregular periods. While having enough of the hormone is essential, introducing a chemical called lignans can help regulate those levels. Lignans bind to oestrogen in your body and they’re then removed as waste, keeping levels in check.
Try these: Spoon two tablespoons daily of lignan-rich flax seeds into smoothies, over soups or on breakfast. You can also try pumpkin seeds, since the zinc in these supports a healthy reproductive system.
Seed Cycling in the Luteal Phase
From ovulation to menstruation, your body is at its most fertile. An egg is released and eagerly awaits fertilisation by sperm. In preparation, your body produces oestrogen and progesterone to support a potentially fertilised egg. In order to regulate the levels of oestrogen, try sesame seeds, which are rich in oestrogen-blocking zinc and selenium. To boost progesterone levels (and keep your body more regular), try Vitamin E-rich sunflower seeds. They’re also high in GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) or omega-6, which can stabilize hormones and calm inflammation.
Try these: sprinkle two tablespoons of sesame and pumpkin seeds into your salads, cereal or just eat them as is.
Another promising seed is fenugreek, used for ages in traditional medicine. One study found that it significantly decreased the severity of period pain. Plus, it’s a natural anti inflammatory and antioxidant seed.