How to Seed Cycle for Hormone Balance
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is a gentle way to balance your hormones throughout the two phases of your menstrual cycle using the nutrients found in seeds. By boosting estrogen in the first phase and progesterone in the second phase, seed cycling can help relieve PMS, increase fertility, ease pain from conditions like ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and PCOS, and regulate irregular cycles. It can be effective for women who are menstruating, pre-menopause, postpartum, and post-menopause.
The menstrual cycle is comprised of two main phases:
THE FOLLICULAR PHASE
(Day 1-14 beginning on the first day of your period)
THE LUTEAL PHASE
(Day 15-28 beginning right after ovulation)
Ancient wisdom says that the follicular phase should begin on a new moon and the luteal phase begins on the full moon, though this doesn’t always happen obviously. That’s ok, but it’s cool when it does. Here’s why: a woman’s typical cycle is 28 days, which is just about the length of a full lunar cycle. The belief is that we were made to be at peak fertility (ovulation) during the full moon when nights are brightest (so you can see your partner!) and low fertility (menstruation) at the new moon when nights are darkest.
How Does Seed Cycling Work?
FOLLICULAR PHASE (Day 1 -14)
The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstruation.
Estrogen levels start low and steadily increase to prepare for ovulation. To keep estrogen levels in balance, we cycle with flax seeds that contain phytoestrogens which adapt to the body’s estrogen needs during this phase. If estrogen levels get too high, the lignans in the flax seeds can bind to the excess so it can be eliminated from the body. We also cycle with pumpkin seeds, which are high in zinc to support progesterone production in the next phase.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial during this phase to reduce inflammation and support reproductive functions. Eating lots of high-quality fatty fish (wild!) or taking a high-quality fish oil supplement is encouraged during this phase.
+ 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
+ 1 tablespoon ground pumpkin seeds
+ high-quality fish oil (optional, but recommended)
Note: Ideally, both seeds are consumed ground. However, while the flaxseeds must be ground, the pumpkin seeds can be eaten whole (hulled) if preferred.
LUTEAL PHASE (DAY 15 - 28)
The luteal phase begins right after ovulation. If you're not 100% sure when that is, start the luteal phase on Day 15 (remember Day 1 is the first day of your period).
This phase is brought on by a sudden drop in estrogen right after ovulation. Progesterone levels begin to steadily rise to build up the uterine lining. Estrogen also increases here to prepare for the menstrual cycle, but if estrogen gets too high PMS symptoms and painful periods can occur. Progesterone is the hormone that keeps estrogen in check, so our focus here is to encourage the body to make progesterone.
During this phase, we cycle with sesame seeds, which are high in zinc and selenium and block excess estrogen, all essential for hormone balance. We also cycle with sunflower seeds, which are high in vitamin E to support progesterone levels.
Quality gamma-linolenic acids (GLAs) are also beneficial during this phase to boost progesterone and reduce inflammation. Taking a high-quality evening primrose oil supplement is encouraged during this phase.
+ 1 tablespoon ground sesame seeds
+ 1 tablespoon ground sunflower seeds
+ evening primrose oil (optional, but recommended)
Note: Ideally, both seeds are consumed ground. However, while the sesame seeds must be ground, the sunflower seeds can be eaten whole (hulled) if preferred.
Notes About Seeds
Seeds used for seed cycling should be raw, not roasted or seasoned. Organic is best (always ;) Because the fats in seeds are fragile, they oxidize easily when exposed to heat and light so keep them in the fridge or freezer.
Ideally, grind your seeds right before eating them or store ground seeds in the freezer. Avoid cooking the seeds as many healthy fats and nutrients will become damaged. For best results, eat only the seeds for the particular phase you are in (i.e. don’t eat pumpkin seeds during the luteal phase).
How to Eat Your Daily Seeds
Here are some easy ways to enjoy your two tablespoons of seeds a day. Get creative!
Blend into smoothies.
Sprinkle on smoothie bowls, yogurt bowls, or oatmeal.
Sprinkle on salads or grain bowls (my favorites below!)
Make these Chocolate Collagen Energy Bites!
Useful Tools and Products for Seed Cycling
This is my favorite period and ovulation tracker. It tells you exactly when you can expect your period and predicts when you are ovulating. The app gets smarter as you give it data.
A Final Note on Seed Cycling
It can take several cycles (3-4 months) to begin feeling changes. Seed cycling is not an overnight fix or meant to cure serious health or hormonal conditions. However, it can be a powerful yet gentle and natural (#realfood!) way to support your hormones and regulate your cycle.