Seed Cycling: The Natural Approach to Hormonal Balance
A science-based guide to seed cycling for hormone balance and to support fertility! Learn what seeds to use, how it supports your hormones and how to incorporate it into your daily routine.
In today's world, where the complexities of modern living often lead to hormonal imbalances, finding natural methods to achieve internal harmony is paramount. Enter seed cycling, a holistic approach that's garnering significant attention in wellness circles.
Hormonal balance in women is intricate and sensitive, operating in a finely-tuned equilibrium. Yet, factors like diet, exercise, sleep patterns, stress, and environmental toxins can significantly impact this balance. Even minor disruptions in hormone levels can potentially underlie various health challenges, from irregular menstrual cycles and acne to conditions like PCOS, thyroid disorders, and persistent fatigue.
Seed cycling isn't merely a trend; it’s a simple method rooted in the idea that our dietary choices, particularly the seeds we consume, can align with and support our body's natural rhythms. By tailoring seed intake to different phases of the menstrual cycle, proponents believe we can promote hormonal balance, alleviate menstrual discomfort, and enhance overall reproductive health. Given the intimate relationship between hormonal health and our overall well-being, understanding and leveraging practices like seed cycling can be game-changing for many women.
So, what is seed cycling, and why is it becoming a cornerstone in the world of natural health solutions?
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling involves methodically consuming specific seeds during distinct phases of the menstrual cycle to foster hormonal equilibrium. The process banks on the premise that these seeds can promote the body's optimal hormone production and metabolism.
Seed cycling is versatile and can be adopted at any phase in a woman's journey, even after menopause. It's particularly advantageous for those transitioning away from hormonal contraceptives or grappling with symptoms associated with post-birth control syndrome, such as acne, irregular menstrual cycles, absent periods, or PMS.
Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle
- Follicular Phase (Days 1-14): The cycle kicks off with flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Rich in phytoestrogens and essential fatty acids, they're believed to naturally elevate estrogen levels, supporting this phase's dominant hormone.
- Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): As the cycle progresses, the focus shifts to sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. These seeds are rich in nutrients that may bolster progesterone production, aligning with this phase's hormonal needs.
Hormonal Balance: Seeds contain lignans and essential fatty acids, which can potentially influence hormone production and metabolism1.
Reduced PMS Symptoms: Anecdotal evidence suggests that seed cycling might reduce PMS symptoms, though scientific backup is limited.
Support Menopause Transition: Some proponents believe that seed cycling can ease menopause symptoms, thanks to the phytoestrogens in seeds like flax2.
How to Start Seed Cycling
Seed Cycling is actually very simple. Start by incorporating 1-2 tbsps. of pumpkin and flax seeds daily during the first half or 14 days of your cycle followed by sunflower and sesame for the last half after you ovulate.
If you don’t have a 28-day menstrual cycle, don’t worry! Many women don’t. It’s best to follow the 14 day cycle for each phase of seeds. By staying on track with the 2-week rotation, the process will nudge your body into an optimal menstrual cycle rhythm and help you get back on track.
What if I don't have a regular period?
It is possible to incorporate seed cycling even if you have irregular or missing periods! Instead of rotating with the phases of your cycle, follow the phases of the moon as a guide. Do so as follows:
- New moon to full moon will be the follicular phase: pumpkin and flax seeds.
- Full moon to new moon will be the luteal phase: sunflower and sesame seeds.
What Does the Research Say? While seed cycling has gained popularity, scientific research specifically on seed cycling is limited, however, just because there is little research doesnt mean it doesnt work! Keep in mind that women were not included in any clinical trials until 1996!
While studies don’t directly link seed cycling to hormone balance, they show clear correlations that specific nutritional components in flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds may play a role in supporting your natural hormonal cycle.
Flax Seeds: Flax seeds contain lignans, which have antioxidant properties and may have effects on estrogen metabolism3. A study found that flaxseed might help in reducing hot flashes among postmenopausal women4.
Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which plays a role in the menstrual cycle. However, direct research linking pumpkin seeds to menstrual health is scarce.
Sesame Seeds: Like flax seeds, sesame seeds also contain lignans, though the research on their impact on menstrual health is not as robust.
Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds are high in selenium, a mineral important for hormone balance. However, their direct role in seed cycling remains unverified through research.
How to Incorporate Seed Cycling Into Your Everyday Routine:
It’s recommended to eat 1-2 tablespoons of the specific seeds each day. Raw, ground seeds are best, especially for the flax and sesame. You can simply use a coffee/spice grinder to grind the seeds. I grind about a cup at a time and keep it in a glass jar in the fridge or freezer.
Think of your seeds like hormone balancing sprinkles. You can add them to anything! If you’re looking for ways to incorporate your seeds, here’s some ideas to get you started.
Some creative ways to use your seed cycling seed mix include:
Add to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or chia seed pudding
Sprinkle on toast, nourish bowls, salads or soups
Pesto with pumpkin and flax seeds
Homemade seed butter
Make homemade granola with pumpkin and flax or sesame and sesame seeds
This recipe for seed cycling bites for each phase of your cycle
TRACK YOUR CYCLE
This is so important! While you can follow the moon phases, it’s best to rotate seeds with your unique cycle. In order to do this, you need to track your cycle.
I recommend the basal body temperature method for tracking your cycle. You can use an oral thermometer before you get out of bed in the morning. But I prefer to use the Ava Bracelet. It tracks your basal body temperature and other parameters that can help predict ovulation. I truly believe this is the reason we got pregnant so quickly! It’s 100% worth the investment.
PRIORITIZE HORMONE BALANCE
Keep in mind that seed cycling isn’t a cure-all. Hormone imbalances are often a result of digestive issues, blood sugar imbalances, stress, a lack of dietary fat and protein, lack of sleep, and environmental toxins (like your cleaning and skincare products). You can’t expect seed cycling to give you the boost you need without prioritizing good sleep, managing your stress, eating well and staying hydrated and limiting your exposure to hormone-disrupting toxins.
NEED MORE GUIDANCE?
Reach out for more tips and tricks on balancing your hormones and most importantly your nervous system. Keep up to date on more information by subscribing to the blog and news letter. You can also schedule your initial consultation at Sol Chiropractic to get your nervous system checked.
Note: The post combines both current scientific findings and general opinions around seed cycling. Always ensure to verify with the latest research, and as always, individual responses may vary. This is a generalized post and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your health routine.
Brooks, J. D., Thompson, L. U. (2005). Mammalian lignans and genistein decrease the activities of aromatase and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in MCF-7 cells. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 94(5), 461-467. ↩
Adlercreutz, H., Bannwart, C., Wähälä, K., Mäkelä, T., Brunow, G., Hase, T., ... & Tikkanen, M. J. (1991). Inhibition of human aromatase by mammalian lignans and isoflavonoid phytoestrogens. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 38(2), 219-223. ↩
Sturgeon, S. R., & Ronnenberg, A. G. (2010). Pomegranate and breast cancer: possible mechanisms of prevention. Nutrition Reviews, 68(2), 122-128. ↩
Pruthi, S., Qin, R., Terstreip, S. A., Liu, H., Loprinzi, C. L., Shah, T. R., ... & Barton, D. L. (2012). A phase III, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of flaxseed for the treatment of hot flashes: North Central Cancer Treatment Group N08C7. Menopause, 19(1), 48-53. ↩