Seed cycling is the practice of eating different types of seeds during the different phases of your menstrual cycle. This helps you boost either estrogen or progesterone in order to balance your hormones. The seeds consumed are: pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. They are all high in essential fatty acids, which are essential for hormone production. The practice of seed cycling is recommended at any stage in a woman’s life but can be particularly helpful for women struggling with post-birth control symptoms such as irregular periods, acne, or new PMS symptoms.
The practice of seed cycling is widely recommended by naturopathic doctors all over the world and has supported women’s health for many years. Seed cycling is gaining popularity as a tool to support fertility and reproductive health. The reason it has not yet become a mainstream practice is that there isn’t much scientific research that proves its benefits. Unfortunately, this field of study lacks the significant return on investment required by companies to fund scientific research. However, there is plenty of research that supports the overall health benefits of each of the seeds used during seed cycling.
How does seed cycling work?
Your menstrual cycle is divided in two main phases: the Follicular Phase (days 1-14 of your cycle) and the Luteal Phase (days 15-28 of your cycle).
During the Follicular Phase, the amount of testosterone and estrogen in your body increases. Testosterone helps you get in the mood to “make babies” and estrogen triggers ovulation. To follow the seed cycling process during this phase, you eat 1 tablespoon of raw pumpkin seeds and 1 tablespoon of freshly ground flax seeds each day.
Pumpkin seeds contain potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, and copper, which are essential nutrients and support our overall health. The high content of zinc in pumpkin seeds, is particularly important to optimize testosterone levels during the Follicular Phase of our cycle. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in antioxidants, which improves the health of our ovaries, eggs and reproductive system.
Flaxseeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and lignans, which make them very beneficial to our overall health. Studies show that lignans can bind to excess estrogen in the body, supporting efficient elimination. This helps us avoid estrogen dominance, a common cause of heavy periods and PMS symptoms.
Due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content, flax seeds can quickly become rancid. This is why it’s recommended to buy whole seeds and grind them at home, right before consumption.
During the Luteal Phase (days 15-28 of your cycle), the levels of progesterone in your body increase to make it easier for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. To follow the seed cycling process, each day you eat 1 tablespoon of raw sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of raw sunflower seeds. These seeds support healthy progesterone levels, the key hormone during this phase of the cycle.
Sesame seeds are rich in zinc, which stimulates the production of progesterone in the body. They are also shown to help lower inflammation, one of the main causes of hormonal imbalance.
Sunflower seeds have high levels of vitamin E, which also supports the production of progesterone in the body and has been shown to reduce PMS symptoms. Sunflower seeds also contain iron and magnesium, which support estrogen detoxification and help to reduce period cramps.
If you have a shorter or irregular cycle, or you are not getting your period, you can follow the phases of the moon as a guideline. Day 1 of your cycle would begin with the new moon.
To get the benefits, try seed cycling for at least 3 months, while maintaining other hormone supporting practices, such as getting quality sleep, eating your vegetables and managing stress. Include these seeds into your daily smoothies, salads or protein snack balls.
I’ll be sharing recipes to help you incorporate these seeds into your daily meals.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on seed cycling? Are you excited to try it? Share in the comments below.
- Parikh M, Maddaford TG, Austria JA, Aliani M, Netticadan T, Pierce GN. Dietary Flaxseed as a Strategy for Improving Human Health. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1171. Published 2019 May 25. doi:10.3390/nu11051171
- Rietjens IMCM, Louisse J, Beekmann K. The potential health effects of dietary phytoestrogens. Br J Pharmacol. 2017;174(11):1263–1280. doi:10.1111/bph.13622
- Glew RH, Glew RS, Chuang LT, et al. Amino acid, mineral and fatty acid content of pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita spp) and Cyperus esculentus nuts in the Republic of Niger. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2006;61(2):51–56. doi:10.1007/s11130-006-0010-z