You’ve Heard of Seed Cycling. How about Bean Cycling?

Bean Cycling? Yes, I made it up! The term, but not the practice. It’s a thing, I promise. I know you’re probably envisioning Mr. Bean on a bicycle. Oh, wait. That wasn’t the first thing to cross your mind? Whoops! Sorry for that visual! Anywho, you probably haven’t heard of bean cycling but you have heard of seed cycling so let’s do a quick review first.

What is Seed Cycling?

We all know that our hormones go up and down during our menstrual month. We are dynamic beings. If everything is copacetic, estrogen goes up in the first 2 weeks and progesterone goes up in the last 2 weeks. In Chinese Medicine, estrogen is akin to Yin; all the fluids, blood and substance of the body. Basically all the juicy stuff. Estrogen is necessary in the first 2 weeks, because #1, you are bleeding (losing yin/blood) and #2, yin is necessary to mature a new follicle and build a luscious lining.

Side note: Boy, estrogen gets a bad rap these days, doesn’t it? But, we need it ladies. It’s what makes us be all feminine and stuff. Of course, we are exposed to a lot of fake type estrogens that throws our whole system off, but we’ll talk about that in another blog post.

So what about progesterone? It’s the Yang of the two female reproductive hormones. It’s the warmth, holding, active counterpart to estrogen. Okay, so what does this have to do with seeds, Kris? Bringing it back, we can eat certain seeds to support these natural increases of each hormone.

The Seed Cycling Protocol

Days 1-14: Estrogen Boost with 1 tbsp each of Pumpkin Seeds & Flaxseeds

Days 15-28: Progesterone Boost with 1 tbsp each of Sunflower Seeds & Sesame Seeds


You’ve Heard of Seed Cycling. How about Bean Cycling?, Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Escondido, CA
photo by voi.com.au

 

Okay, so you get the gist of seed cycling, so what’s this Bean Cycling thing I’m talking about? I educate women on how to honor their tides, meaning that our physiological menstrual cycle has ups and downs, so why do we feel the need to function at full speed e’re day? We have distinct phases and distinct needs during each phase. We have what’s called inner seasons. Our needs change in each season and when we honor that, we achieve harmonious hormones.

What’s Bean Cycling?

I am a huge proponent of food as medicine. I practice Food Therapy with the lens of East Asian Medicine where each food has properties and tastes just like strong herbal medicines. We can use foods to enhance health and also use foods to regain lost health. In my Menstrual Attunement Program, I teach women about what foods are best during each phase of the menstrual cycle, because your body needs different things at different times.

Just as with seed cycling, we’ll use beans to harness the best potential for each phase of the menstrual cycle. When I say “beans”, I’m talking about legumes. Oh yeah, and just because Adzuki beans are listed in the Period Phase, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them all month long in moderation. It’s just the best “bang for your buck” during the period phase. Here’s the Bean Cycling Protocol and the reasons behind it:

Best Beans for Each Menstrual Phase

Days 1-4 :: Blood Phase :: Period Phase :: Inner Winter

Adzuki Beans: The color red influences the Heart & Blood. These tiny red beans tonify the kidney-adrenal function, detoxifies the body, disperses stagnant blood, reduces swelling and has a diuretic effect

Days 5-12 :: Yin Phase :: Follicular Phase :: Inner Spring

Black Beans: The color black influences the kidneys & reproductive functions. Black beans build yin fluids and blood as well as being diuretic

Kidney Beans: These big red beans increase yin fluids, reduces swelling and edema; the name also suggests that it’s good for our kidneys

Lentils: Benefits the Heart and circulation, stimulates the adrenals and increases vitality (jing/essence). Also a diuretic

Days 13-16 :: Yang Phase :: Ovulation :: Inner Summer

Red Lentils: All the benefits of lentils but slightly warmer than other types of lentils so it helps with ovulation

Days 17-28 :: Qi Phase :: Luteal Phase :: Inner Autumn

Navy Beans: Cooling, beneficial to the lungs and beautifies skin

Mung Beans: Cooling, detoxifying, beneficial the the liver as it’s green in color; alleviates excessive heat and fluid accumulation in the body

Kristin Gonzalez offers Acupuncture in Escondido, CA

So how do I practice this? I normally pick a bean/legume for each phase. I prepare it in bulk and then warm up portions and enjoy it as a side dish, part of soups/stews, or cook it with my grains. My mom is Korean and you will often see multi-grain rice mixed with beans. They are cooked and enjoyed together. Here’s an example:

Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Escondido, CA
photo by Beyond Kimchi

What’s all the fuss about?

Beans & Legumes are staple foods all around the world. Here are some benefits:

1. High in Protein: Great source of vegetarian protein.
2. High in Fiber: Supports daily bowel movements which is absolutely crucial for hormonal harmony. Because of the high fiber, they help to stabilize blood sugar; another really important factor in hormonal health. And because it does these 2 things really well, it aids with any weight loss goals.
3. Most are longevity foods: In Chinese Medicine, beans & legumes are seen as longevity foods. They are the fruit and seed of the plant. They hold all the potential of that plant. When you consume them, you harness all that potential.
4. Good for Heart Health

But, Kris, I don’t digest beans well……

I hear this a lot and I can attest to this personally. It’s because we’re not really taught how to prepare them properly. Here’s some tips!

1. Rinse all legumes thoroughly
2. Soak em! Soak em real good! In warm water like at least 8 hrs (basically overnight) and up to 24 hrs. Lentils, split peas and split mung beans don’t need much soaking. Maybe just an hour.
3. Some people like to add an acidic medium like 1 tbsp of vinegar, lemon juice or a pinch of baking soda to enhance the process.
4. Don’t ever eat them raw; cooking eliminates all or most of the indigestible components.
5. After soaking, you must rinse them. I’d do it several times. That liquid the legumes were soaking in contains a lot of that indigestible stuff.
6. Add water to cover at least 3 inches and they are ready to cook! For increased digestibility, add a big piece of kombu seaweed to the pot of legumes and water before boiling. Remove the kombu at the end. Enjoy!

So What’s the Take Away?

Beans are a magical fruit, and the more you eat, the more you….lol...okay, in all seriousness, you can cycle your beans to follow your menstrual cycle and gain the most benefits from them during certain phases. Plus, they have so many added benefits. Eat your beans! Share some of your favorite recipes with me!!!

Be Well & In Health,

Kris

Heart :: Womb Connection

It's happened to you or a friend. An emotional trigger or trauma completely messes up your period. It's late, or comes way too early, maybe cramping is the worse you've ever experienced or maybe your period completely disappeared since the emotional onset. Why does this happen? And more importantly, is there something you can do to get back to your cyclic harmony? 

Your Heart is intimately connected to your Womb. In Chinese Medicine, there's a channel called the Bao Mai (The Uterus Vessel) that connects your heart to your uterus; a direct link!! This explains the profound influence of mental-emotional triggers of the Heart and it's affects on the Uterus. Basically a broken heart can break the connection of your Bao Mai!! And since we all process emotions differently, our experiences will be unique. Some of us respond with anger, some of us repress while others just sink deep in the grief. There are many passages in ancient texts that talk about how different emotions affect our uteri. 

by HeatherSays.comby HeatherSays.com

For example, The "Simple Questions" in chapter 33 says: "The Uterus Vessel pertains to the Heart and extends to the Uterus" and "When the period does not come it means the Uterus Vessel is obstructed".

Again, in "Simple Questions" chapter 44 says: "Sadness leads to severance of the Uterus Channel: when this is severed Yang Qi is agitated in the Interior and the Heart causes menorrhagia".

The "Secret Record of the Orchid Room" says: "Mental strain and stress weakens the Heart, Heart-Fire rises and the periods do not come".

Let's dig deeper, but first some definitions:
Shen - Spirit
Kidney Jing - The kidneys are home to our Jing; our essence (the most dense physical matter, similar to DNA). This is where are reserves are stored.
Tian Gui - Menstrual Blood aka Heavenly Water
Heart Yang - The warmth and movement potential of the Heart

Your heart houses Shen (your Spirit) and governs blood. It is said that the Heart Yang connects with the Kidney Jing in order to build (Tian Gui) menstrual blood, your heavenly water. So you can see that if something affects the energetics of your heart, it cannot carry out it's function of mutually binding with essence to build menstrual blood. Healthy menstruation and fertility is highly dependent on the state of your Heart as well as your Kidney Jing. 

Christine Taneil Canaday, LMFT talks about this intimate relationship in what she calls Moontime Mindset. She says "Moontime Mindset is a model of self-care for women acknowledging the natural relationship between emotional well-being and menstrual health." You often hear about how stress affects our health. Part of our health is our emotional well-being. When life gets especially overwhelming, I am all about getting the help you need. There is strength in reaching out for help. 

So how can we cycle back into harmony once our periods are affected? Here's some strategies:

1) Acknowledge the Emotion: Talk to yourself via a journal or talk to someone else (a friend, a therapist)
2) Heart/Womb Meditation: One hand over your Heart and the other over your Womb. Visualize the connection, focus on breath and sending love and free flow through the channel. Listening to music can help ease into the space.
3) Rely on your Rituals & Routines: The #1 thing you can do for your cycle harmony is to get back to normal routines and rituals. Your body, including your menstrual cycle thrives on rhythms. Start by looking at the moon phases, tracking your cycle and simply observing your states.
4) See your Acupuncturist & get on some herbs: Your acupuncturist has a way of seeing patterns. Because of this, they will know what can correct the pattern; with acu-points and herbal formulas. 

Caring for your Heart is Caring for Your Womb.

Be Well & In Health,
Kris

Hawthorne Berry Tea Recipe for the Perfect Period

Hawthorne Berry Tea Recipe for the Perfect Period, Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Escondido, CA

There’s a tea you can drink several days before your period, on your period and a couple days after to reduce your PMS and cramping. Seriously, it’s like magic. Plus, it’s good for your heart.

Let me introduce you to the beautiful Hawthorn Berry. It's round, red, a bit sour and a little bit sweet. It’s an amazing herb that you should have on heavy rotation nearing your moontime. It’s a staple in my house. Not only does it improve digestive function, lower lipid levels and promote blood circulation, it eliminates wastes from your body. It's the perfect combination of allies for your period phase.

So what’s hawthorn berry?

It’s a commonly used herb in Chinese Medicine. It’s part of the Rose family. It contains fatty acids that aid in fat digestion and because of its sour taste it increases the secretion of digestive enzymes in the stomach to promote digestion in general. It has an affinity for blood and the heart so it can effectively improve heart functions and promote circulation. According to Chinese Medicine, the heart sends blood to the uterus to begin the period stage, so proper heart functioning is imperative for a successful period phase. By drinking this tea, you are supporting your heart’s functioning and improving circulation to and in your uterus.

So how do I make it?

Here’s are a couple variations.

Hawthorn Berry Tea; Straight Up!

15-20g of dried, sliced Hawthorn berries
8 cups of water
A tiny bit of natural sweetener of choice

Bring the berries to a boil and then turn down to a slow simmering boil for 10 minutes. Strain. Boom! You’re done. Lightly sweeten to taste and bring it with you wherever you go. Drink several cups a day. Stores well in the refrigerator for several days but I don’t recommend drinking it cold because cold temperatures constrict and we are trying to improve circulation.

**Add several slices of ginger and a cinnamon stick to the above recipe if you tend to run a little cold**

Hawthorn with Green Tea

15-20g of dried
sliced Hawthorne berries

Small handful of green tea

8 cups of water

A tiny bit of natural sweetener of choice

Bring only the berries to a boil and then turn down to a slow simmering boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add a small handful of loose leaf green tea; steep for about 5 minutes. Strain. Lightly sweeten to taste and bring it with you wherever you go. Drink several cups a day. Stores well in the refrigerator for several days but again, don’t drink it cold! Warm it up or drink room temp.

You can buy hawthorn berries here.

Be Well & In Health,
Kris

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Moon Medicine: Radical Self-Care Practices for the Perfect Period
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