What is Seed Cycling??
Seed cycling can be used by women to regulate their hormones, menstrual cycles, get their absent periods to come back, and get rid of painful period symptoms.
How it works
Estrogen and progesterone are two of the key hormones that help regulate your menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels rise during the first half of the cycle (from your period, which is considered “Day 1” to ovulation around “Day 14”), whereas progesterone levels rise (while estrogen levels slowly decline) during the second half of your cycle (from ovulation up until your next bleed).
An imbalance between estrogen and progesterone throughout this cycle, can contribute to emotional and physical PMS symptoms, menstrual cramps, acne, short luteal phases, anovulation, irregular cycles, and other unpleasant side effects.
Seed cycling is a technique that helps your body naturally rebalance its hormone levels (namely estrogen and progesterone) by including different seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower) and oils (fish oil and evening primrose oil) in your diet during the two different phases of your menstrual cycle. The seed hulls contain lignans, which are chemicals that help bind up excess hormones, while the seed oils contain essential fatty acids that provide the building blocks for making hormones. These seeds and oils can effectively use phytoestrogens to promote the influence of estrogen in the body during the first part of the cycle, and similarly enhance progesterone on the latter half of the cycle.
Please note: these natural and food-influenced ways to influence hormone levels will not be powerful enough to override with any outside hormonal influences (like hormonal birth control). However, it is important to note that they can also help with the side effects of menopause – not just pre-menopausal and postpartum women.
Here’s what happened when I tried Seed Cycling myself…
Mind you, I don’t have crazy irregular cycles or anything too out of the ordinary but I did have a fair amount cramping, my emotions would swing around the start of my period, and I’d often break out around ovulation and my period.
It can take several month of doing this, but since starting, my acne is cleared, my PMS symptoms are muted or non-existent, and my mood is much more evenly-keeled. And I’m now much closer to being aligned with the moon cycle. HOORAY! So I’m a fan and sticking with it!
With some of my other clients… I’ve had a woman who has PCOS and hadn’t had a period at all during her entire adult life finally get her period(!) I have other clients using it to help promote their fertility, and others that have similarly seen improved PMS symptoms and/or their cycle length become more “normal”.
As I said, it can take a some time and patience, but it’s a pretty low-barrier-to-entry and natural way to positively influence your womanly hormones, with no real negative side effects (unless someone has an allergy or something)! Obviously, this isn’t intended to be medical advice, but is something that you can further research, ask your doctor about (fair warning, they might not be familiar with it though unless they are a naturopath or functional medicine doctor), and/or discuss with your Coach.
How to do Seed Cycling
Seed cycling should be done according to your menstrual cycle if it is regular, or according to the phases of the moon cycle if your own cycle is irregular or absent. For instance, you would start with Phase 1 of the seed cycling protocol on the first day of the new moon and begin phase 2 of the protocol approximately 14 days later when the moon is full.
Phase 1: Day 1-14* New Moon to Full Moon
- Freshly ground seeds:
- Pumpkin Seeds (1 tbsp)
- Flax Seeds (1 tbsp)
- Fish Oil (just make sure the EPA/DHA content is high, from wild caught, high-quality fish, and not with a bunch of other additives. I like SFH and Nordic Naturals personally.)
Phase 2: Day 15-28* Full Moon to New Moon
- Freshly ground seeds:
- Sunflower Seeds (1 tbsp)
- Sesame Seeds (1 tbsp)
- Evening Primrose Oil (this is the one I take)
*If your cycle isn’t 28 or 29 days, switch according to the moon cycle. Mine was 28, but I did it according to the moon cycle because of my coach’s recommendation. So when in doubt, cycle according to the moon.
**It’s best to grind the seeds fresh in a coffee grinder, food processor, or blender… I’m lazy so I usually throw them into a smoothie. Some just buy pre-ground seeds. Or if I’m super lazy/in a bind, I just make sure I adequately chew my pumpkin or sunflower seeds).
I usually take the oil in the morning with breakfast, and consume the ground seeds either on my oatmeal, in smoothies, or on salads. Some people have come up with creative recipes (like seed/energy balls – check out “Moon Bites”) to consume the seeds as well!
What about Seed Cycling during Perimenopause, Menopause, or Pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant, cease seed cycling because your body is working hard on its own to regulate its hormones (and they are on OVERDRIVE).
There is research that shows that seed cycling can ease the side effects of perimenopause and menopause, so have at it if you’re in one of those groups. 🙂