Have you ever heard of seed cycling? In the wellness world, this practice is trending, and for good reason. Seed cycling is one way women can overcome hormone imbalances gently, naturally, and effectively. Seed cycling benefits are many, and this article will cover the basics of seed cycling, the research behind the practice, the benefits, and how to do seed cycling yourself!
Keep reading to learn more about seed cycling benefits and why you might want to incorporate this amazing wellness practice into your lifestyle!
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is a naturopathic wellness practice that entails eating specific seeds during the two main phases of your menstrual cycle. That means during the follicular and luteal phase of your cycle, you would eat one tablespoon of freshly ground seeds during each phase. Four kinds of seeds are used in seed cycling: flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Seed cycling helps promote the healthy balance of estrogen and progesterone levels and is a natural way to reduce symptoms of PMS, boost fertility, and stimulate menstruation if you struggle with amenorrhea. Not to mention, it’s especially beneficial when stopping hormonal birth control or dealing with the effects of post-birth control syndrome.
How Does Seed Cycling Work?
The premise behind seed cycling and how it contributes to hormone balance is that different seeds can promote or hinder the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Here is how a normal menstrual cycle works. Estrogen is produced during the first 14 days of the follicular phase as eggs in the ovaries ripen. Levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) increase just before ovulation, and estrogen levels drop just after ovulation.
Once ovulation has occurred and an egg has been released, the luteal phase starts and progesterone and estrogen levels gradually increase in a careful balance to support conception and implantation. They drop again before the next period if no implantation occurs.
Most women produce the right levels of hormones to support a healthy cycle. However, certain health conditions can cause women to deal with hormonal imbalances that disrupt the menstrual cycle.
When practicing seed cycling, the estrogen-rich flax and pumpkin seeds support the ovaries in raising estrogen levels. That happens naturally during the first half of the month. Meanwhile, the sesame and sunflower seeds support progesterone levels during the second half of the month.
Seed Cycling Benefits
As I mentioned earlier, there are many seed cycling benefits. Here are a few of the ways seed cycling supports women’s health:
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS symptoms like cramps and bloating)
- Irregular periods
- Hormone imbalance
- Estrogen dominance
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Perimenopause and menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and mood swings.
Research on Seed Cycling
Unfortunately, the scientific literature has not caught up with the practice of seed cycling, although countless women have reported the benefits of this practice. That being said, there is research on the individual seeds used in seed cycling and how they can benefit your hormonal health.
Flax Seed – Flax seeds are rich in phytochemicals called lignans. Lignans have both estrogen-promoting and estrogen-limiting effects. A small clinical trial found that eating flax seed powder helped balance women’s progesterone to estrogen ratio. What’s more, it restored ovulation in women who didn’t ovulate.
Pumpkin Seed – The lignans and flavones in pumpkin seeds were also found to improve hormone balance. A study done in 2013 found that pumpkin seed extract lowered estrogen receptor activity. It also increased progesterone receptor activity, keeping the two in balance.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are especially known for their zinc content. Zinc is critical for normal reproduction cycles in both women and men by supporting estrogen, progesterone, and androgen (testosterone) metabolism.
Sesame Seed – The gut microbiome converts sesame lignan into a compound called enterolactone. This compound supports estrogen. A randomized controlled trial of postmenopausal women tested the effects of sesame powder. After sesame treatment, blood levels of sex hormone-binding globulin increased significantly. So did an estrogen called hydroxyestrone. Researchers concluded sesame could improve hormone status in postmenopausal women.
Sunflower Seed – In another study of postmenopausal women, eating sunflower seeds was linked with lower breast cancer risk due to the phytoestrogens and lignans in the seeds.
How to Do Seed Cycling
If you are convinced to add this simple wellness practice to your lifestyle, here is how to do it. Eat one tablespoon of freshly ground seeds each day, according to your cycle. The first phase (the follicular phase) calls for flax and pumpkin seeds. The second phase (the luteal phase) calls for sunflower and sesame seeds.
Seed cycling works best when the seeds are raw and freshly ground, as grinding the seeds increases the surface area for absorption. There are many options for ways to consume the seeds, including:
- Making fresh seed butter
- Making a raw seed-based granola
- Sprinkling seeds on a salad
- Blending seeds into smoothies
- Mixing seeds into salad dressing
- Adding seeds to chia pudding, oatmeal, or yogurt parfaits
Work with a Functional Naturopath and Fertility Coach
Seed cycling benefits women who are going through hormonal imbalances as well as women with a healthy menstrual cycle. If you are interested in learning more ways to balance your hormones and boost your fertility, consider my one-on-one or group coaching programs. My goal is to empower you in your fertility journey and give you the tools and guidance you need to achieve the health and family your desire. Submit an application to learn more!