Support your menstrual cycle with seeds by Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Do you struggle with mood swings prior to your menstrual cycle? Can you cry at a Kleenix commercial during this time? Or are you extra irritable and slightly more prone to anger just before your period? Remember that most hormone conditions, such as, irregular periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome, fertility, amenorrhea, painful periods, menopause, PMS etc, are not “medical conditions”. They are just signs that your body is out of balance hormonally. When it comes to our menstrual cycle, the two most common hormones that come to mind are estrogen and progesterone. Signs of imbalances in these hormones are:
Memory lapses/foggy thinking
Fibrocystic and/or tender breasts
Weight gain (hips)
Cold body temperature
Fibrocystic and/or tender Breasts
Weight gain (hips)
Cold body temperature
Excess facial hair
When I was first regained my mental health, I was prescribed an essential nutrient protocol to support the tryptophan pathway in my body in order to make the “feel-good” neurotransmitter serotonin. I was suffering with anxiety and depression when I started this protocol and within a few weeks, I felt these lift…. for two weeks out of the month. This indicated that my hormones were also out of balance. I didn’t realize this at the time since I wasn’t a medical professional, but as I explain to my patients, there are three macrosystems that we need support: our neurotransmitters, our hormones and our organs of detoxification. If you find you struggle with mood disturbances in the two weeks prior to your menstrual cycle, this points to a hormone imbalance. If you suffer from depression and anxiety, ALL aspects need to be addressed, not just neurotransmitters.
As Naturopathic Doctors, we follow the advice of Hippocrates who said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” One of the ways we can use food to balance our hormones is by following a “seed protocol”. Using the seeds, we are supporting estrogen in the follicular phase of our menstrual cycle and progesterone in the luteal phase of our cycle. Here’s how it works:
For omega 3 EFA’s to support estrogen: Consume 2 Tbsp each of organic ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds daily – (for menopausal women or women with irregular cycles, do this between new moon to full moon as it helps promote estrogen formation; for menstruating women, do this on days 1-14 of your menstrual cycle)
For omega 6 EFA’s to support progesterone formation: Consume 2 Tbsp each of organic ground sesame seeds and sunflower seeds in daily – (for menopausal women or women with irregular cycles, do this between full moon to new moon to promote progesterone formation; for menstruating women, do this between Day 15- and the start of your next menstrual cycle).
This cycling helps to balance estrogen and progesterone levels. For time/efficiency sake, I recommend grinding a few cups of each seed and storing it in a ziploc bag/tupperware container in the freezer (as the oils will become rancid). This way you do not have to grind the seeds on a daily basis.
If you are in menopause or have irregular periods, then I use the moon cycle to regulate your hormones. The moon controls the tides of the planet and there is a relationship between this energy of the moon and our menstrual cycle. Also, First Nation cultures refer to the menstrual cycle as the moon cycle. Ideally, we are to ovulate on the Full moon and start our periods on the New Moon. I prescribe “moon bathing” to my patients who have irregular periods. This is where you stand in the energy of the full moon for a few minutes. Most of us who live in the city are disconnected from nature and the natural rhythm of our planet and the seasons. Moon bathing is a way to reconnect to nature. If you would like a copy of the moon cycle, please contact our office.
My husband, Dr. Michael Mason-Wood, makes two types of homemade granola for me using the seeds. I am not sure if he is trying to help me or himself – haha. The good news is the granola is delicious and healthy since it is homemade. The seed protocol is a simple and effective way to support the formation and elimination of hormones in your body. Give it a try!
- 8 C rolled oats
- 1 ½ C wheat germ
- 1 ½ C oat bran (hemp hearts)
- ½ C sunflower seeds for progesterone phase or 1.5 C pumpkin seeds for estrogen phase
- ½ C sesame seeds for progesterone phase
- 1 C finely chopped almonds
- 1 C finely chopped pecans (chia seeds)
- 1 C finely chopped walnuts (hazelnuts)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ C brown sugar
- ¼ C maple syrup
- ¾ C honey
- 1 C vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 C raisins or sweetened dried cranberries
*we don’t use the flax seeds in the granola as these seeds are best consumed ground
Prep: 20 m / Cook: 20 m / Ready In: 40 m
Makes: 30 servings (369 calories/serving)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
- Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
- Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool, then stir in the raisins or cranberries before storing in an airtight container.