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Hormones, meet the Lunar Cycle

Posted Feb 27 2013 10:35pm
Posted in: Nutrition , Pregnancy

Did you know that 3 out of 10 women in their child-bearing years experience irregular periods be it periods that are too long, too short, too heavy, too light, or absent altogether (as in my case) our body is trying to tell us something is “off”.  And what’s “off” is likely our hormones (the chemical messengers that regulate various bodily functions).

“Hormonal imbalance” is a complicated topic.  So to put it simply, things like stress, diet, and exposure to toxins can send our hormones into a frenzy.   When there is too much of one hormone or not enough of another, our organs and tissues do not get the signal to operate as they should.  Hormonal imbalance can manifest itself in many ways…an irregular or absent menstrual cycle is one symptom that hits home for me  because I was sans period for 18 months .

My ovaries were not getting the message to ovulate.   Talk about a communication breakdown!

I’m stating the obvious here, but without ovulation there is no egg to fertilize, and without an egg there’s no baby.  We clearly had a challenge ahead, given that we were trying to conceive.  BUT over time, I brought my hormones back in balance and started to ovulate again.  Even better, I got pregnant !

So it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

To the moon.   Yep, you read that right…the moon!

I thought my naturopath was nuts when she uttered the words “Lunar Cycle” as a means to regulate my periods.   She recommended consuming specific oils during specific times of the month based on the moon’s cycle.   I was all for the natural approach, but this seemed a little hokey.   Shortly afterwards I came across Samantha Peris’ blog post, Hormonally Challenged .  Samantha’s story was eerily similar to my own and she too was promoting the Lunar Cycle.  That’s when I decided to give it a go (thank you Samantha!).

I couldn’t poo-poo on the effectiveness of the Lunar Cycle until I had tried it myself.  So I put judgement aside and put my faith in the moon.  After all, a year and a half without a period is a LONG time considering women in their pre-menopausal years should see a period once every month.  More precisely, every 29 days.  And wouldn’t you know, the Lunar Cycle is ALSO 29 days.  A coincidence?  I think not.

What is the Lunar Cycle:

The “lunar phase” refers to the angle between the sun and the moon.  When the sun and moon come together (at 0 degrees) this is a New Moon. When they are opposite each other (180 degrees) this is a Full Moon.

As stated on the Women Gone Raw website:

Throughout history, lunar and menstrual cycles have been inextricably linked, with a ‘healthy’ women’s menstrual cycle being equal to one lunar month. Both cycles consist of 29 days (although due to external influences the duration of a woman’s menstrual cycle can vary between 25 and 34 days) and the average length of a full term pregnancy is exactly 9 lunar months (38 weeks).

What a lunar calendar looks like:

Why it works:

Well, maybe because it worked for me?  I saw a period on 3 occasions during my 6 months stint on the Lunar Cycle.  Two of those periods landed ON or WITHIN DAYS of the full moon.   C’mon…that’s impressive right?!

I suppose you’d like information beyond the results from my independent study, so here ya go…

As mentioned, our menstrual cycle is heavily influenced by our hormones.   In particular estrogen (in the first half of our cycle) and progesterone(in the second half).  Adequate EFA’s and cholesterol are needed to make hormones, so if a women consumes insufficient fats and/or has low cholesterol, she make have a lack of menses.   On the other hand, the types of fats we consume can influence a surge in specific hormones.

As Dr. Tori Hudson states:

Supplementing the diet with EFA’s will be important in women with inadequate menstrual cycles that are due to a low fat diet. Using fish oils and the seed oils in combination products would be a well balanced approach in supplying the necessary nutrients.

How it works:

In the first phase (14 days between the new moon and full moon) you consume foods high in Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA).   For instance, I ate one tablespoon of ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds per day.  Other nut/seed options:

  • Flax seeds (grind immediately before you are ready to consume, otherwise they go rancid)
  • Flax oil
  • Hemp seeds, hemp seed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Brazil nuts

In the second phase (14 days between full moon and new moon) you consume foods that are high in Linoleic Acid (LA).    I ate one tablespoon of ground sesame and sunflower seeds everyday for this period of 14 days.  Other nut/seed options:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios

Make sure you grind your seeds of choice immediately before consuming to avoid rancidity.

What you need to get started:  

CrossFitter in the morning. Marketer by day. Nutritionist by night. Foodie all day long. Danielle gives you a glimpse into her paleo and primal lifestyle with recipes (gluten and dairy free), restaurant reviews (searching for the healthiest spots in Toronto), fitness and nutrition tips. Hope you're hungry!
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