Seed Cycling 101
Modern medicine teaches us that hormonal upset or imbalances should be balanced with synthetic hormones, typically in the form of birth control. Rarely do we receive a pamphlet at our doctor’s office that offers alternatives such as herbal remedies or food balancing methods like seed cycling.
While modern medicine is often crucial for discovering and treating underlying hormonal imbalances—it can be worth experimenting with natural alternatives to find what works for our own individual bodies. Seed cycling is a new concept for me, personally, and I’m excited to give it go and see how it works with my own cycle to reduce PMS symptoms and better regulate hormonal fluctuations.
So what is seed cycling?
To put it simply, seed cycling is a method that uses a combination of specific seeds to regulate a woman's cycle. In seed cycling, the 4 phases of a 28 day (or shorter) cycle are broken down into two phases. The first phase is the menstrual and follicular phase and the second phase is the ovulatory and luteal phase. When seed cycling, you eat specific seeds during these two phases. Seeds are rich in fatty acids and other nutrients that support the body’s production of essential hormones.
Women who have consistently implemented seed cycling have reported reduced PMS symptoms, more regular cycles, relief from hormonal acne, fatigue and other annoying things that can come along with our monthly flow.
It sounds a bit intimidating, but seed cycling couldn’t be more simple. Here’s how it works:
Phase 1: The Menstrual + Follicular Phase (days 1–14)
When starting to seed cycle, you want to begin with taking seeds on the first day of your period. Here are the seeds to take during this phase:
1 tablespoon flax & pumpkin seeds every day for days 1–14
Flax seeds contain lignans, which are a nutrient found in plants that are high in omegas and help to reduce overproduction of estrogen in the body. Flax can also protect against hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer.
Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which is wonderful for helping with hormonal acne, overall mood, and supports progesterone production in the body. Zinc also helps with cell growth and turnover, essential for women’s bodies moving through their cycles.
Again, in seed cycling, the four phases of our cycle are combined into 2 phases. This phase begins with your menstrual cycle and goes all the way through ovulation. It is called the Follicular phase because the pituitary gland releases a hormone that stimulates the follicle and each follicle holds an immature egg. The follicles are also responsible for thickening the uterus lining in preparation for pregnancy.
Phase 2: The Ovulatory + Luteal Phase (days 15–28)
During the second half of your cycle, you’ll take the same amount of seeds—but switch up the type of seeds to best suit your body’s needs during these phases. Here’s what to take:
1 tbs of either Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds, or both every day for days 14–28
Sesame seeds also contain lignans to help eliminate excess estrogen production. These seeds are high in omega 6, which is a wonderful anti-inflammatory.
Sunflower seeds contain selenium, which is also an anti-inflammatory, helps balance hormones, and aids in proper liver function. Sunflower seeds are also high in omega 6, which is why these seeds can either be used together or taken alone depending on how much balance you may need.
This phase is considered the second half of a cycle. Progesterone levels are going through fluctuations and there may also be unwanted PMS symptoms like bloating, mood swings, and difficulty sleeping. If you tend to experience these symptoms during this phase, consider using both sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
Yummy Ways to Eat Your Seeds
The best way for seed cycling to work is to take seeds every day through your entire cycle—this, of course, takes a little bit of planning and meal prep. Start by buying all of your seeds raw and in bulk. Grind the seeds that you will be using for the week and keep them in the refrigerator. The un-ground seeds can stay in jars in your cabinet. It’s recommended to ingest your seeds in the morning, but they can be eaten at any time of the day.
Below are some creative ways of incorporating seeds daily into your diet:
Flax - add them to a smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal. You can also sprinkle them on top of salads or on toast.
Sesame - Make your own Tahini sauce, sprinkle on top of salads, macro bowls, warm breakfast meals or on avocado toast.
We also love the brand Wellflower that creates seed cycling snack ball mixes formulated for both of the phases. Their mixes eliminate prep time and are an easy, accessible way to eat your seeds.
Working with food as medicine can feel daunting at first, however, once you develop a system that works for you the benefits outweigh the time it takes to prep. As a society, we are still learning so much from what our food can offer us and continuously study how our bodies respond to different types of food. Have fun with seed cycling and look at it as a way to really tune into your own unique rhythms.
If you have any thoughts or tips for seed cycling please share in the comments below!
Courtney Jay Higgins is the Associate Editor at The Good Trade. She is also a Yoga Instructor, vegetarian, wellness and fashion enthusiast. Originally from Colorado, her soul found California when she came to get her degree in Visual Communications at the Fashion Institute Of Design & Merchandising. She has a background in telling a story through writing, creative direction and content creation. Check out her blog and Instagram for her unique perspective on the mergence of fashion and spirituality.