We may not realize it, but our bodies, minds, and emotional states are incredibly sensitive to the elements around us, and our hormone levels tend to fluctuate and change in response. Using seed cycling to balance hormones is a natural and inexpensive alternative to using drugs, supplements, or herbal remedies, which can result in more balanced hormone levels and boost fertility in women.
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling is a gentle, natural way to support your body’s hormones and bring them into balance by adding different varieties of seeds into your diet at different phases of your menstrual cycle. The concept behind seed cycling is that these seeds carry various oils, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients which can support the body’s production, release, and metabolism of hormones, and as a result help to keep them in balance despite the changes in elements around us (1). By simply adding such seeds as flax, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame into your diet at specific times in your cycle, you can encourage your body to either promote estrogen detoxification in the first half of your cycle or increase progesterone production in the second half (2).
How to Seed Cycle
To incorporate seed cycling into your routine, you will rotate the seeds being consumed based on the follicular and luteal phases of your menstrual cycle. This may be difficult to determine if you currently are not experiencing regular cycles, but will get easier over time as you begin to notice the changes in your body. The follicular phase of your cycle begins on “Day 1”, which is the first day of your menstrual period; the first day you begin to bleed. The luteal phase of your cycle begins on or around “Day 15”, which is when ovulation begins (1). However, not all women experience the standard “28-Day Cycle”, so the start and end times of these phases can change based on your body’s particular cycle. It’s important to pay attention to your body’s natural rhythms and understand the signs of ovulation and menses before they begin. This may take time, but will get easier with each cycle.
The seeds can be ground or eaten whole, mixed into smoothies, oatmeal, chia seed pudding, yogurt, cereal, soups, salads, or however else you prefer to eat them.
Follicular Phase: Day 1 to Day 14, or until ovulation
During this phase, consume 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground raw flax seeds and pumpkin seeds daily
Luteal Phase: Day 15 to Day 28, or until menses
During this phase, consume 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground raw sunflower seeds and sesame seeds daily
How Does Seed Cycling Work?
The combination of ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds helps your body to detoxify the extra estrogen that can be out of balance during the follicular phase of your cycle. The lignans in these seeds, particularly in the flax seeds, bind to excess estrogen in your body and help to eliminate it (2). Additionally, high levels of zinc in the pumpkin seeds prevent the excess estrogen from converting to harmful forms of testosterone, as well as primes your body for progesterone production in the luteal phase of your cycle (3).
The combination of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds used in the luteal phase has a lighter dose of lignans than in the follicular phase, but is rich in zinc and selenium, which help with progesterone production. Additionally, these seeds are both high in linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid which helps to balance out progesterone and estrogen in the body (3).
Some benefits to regulating hormone levels with seed cycling include:
Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Infertility or Sub-Fertility
Excessively Heavy or Light Menstrual Bleeding
However, it should be noted that seed cycling is not to be considered a “quick fix” to hormone regulation, but rather more of a long-term aid. Some women may experience symptomatic relief and notice hormone levels balancing within the first month, while others may take 3 to 4 months before they notice improvements (4). Our bodies are all designed uniquely with different biology, external environments, and natural rhythms, so we will all experience seed cycling in a unique way based on these differences. If you don’t begin to notice any improvements after the first few months of seed cycling and are beginning to feel frustrated, it may be helpful to brainstorm potential causes of your hormonal imbalances to discuss with a practitioner. Balancing hormone levels can be included in many natural therapies, so don’t get discouraged!
Nutrition is a key factor in hormone regulation, so at Joule Health + Wellness we have created a hormone supporting meal plan to take the guesswork out of knowing what to eat. With the incorporation of these hormone supporting recipes in addition to seed cycling, you should notice your hormones coming into balance quicker than with seed cycling alone. We are always here to answer your questions about hormone balancing on the Joule Community as well!
1. Hall A. Seed Cycling For Hormonal Balance – Herbal Academy. Herbal Academy. https://theherbalacademy.com/seed-cycling-for-hormonal-balance/. Published February 28, 2016. Accessed February 10, 2017.
2. Phipps WR, Martini MC, Lampe JW, Slavin JL, Kurzer MS. Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993;77(5):1215-9.
3. Neuzil A. Seed cycling for hormone balance helps your body to nourish healthy hormone production and is safe for anyone to use (even men!). To Health With That! http://dramyneuzil.com/seed-cycling-for-hormone-balance-gentle-ways-to-restore-normal/. Published July 31, 2016. Accessed February 10, 2017.
4. T. Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance. Holistic Health Herbalist. http://www.holistichealthherbalist.com/seed-cycling-hormone-balance/. Published August 3, 2016. Accessed February 10, 2017.