Seed cycling is a safe and natural method of rotating seeds at different times of your menstrual cycle to support production, detoxification, and elimination of hormones to support clear skin.
Since going off of the birth control pill in July 2018, my hormones have been ALL over the place. My skin was a mess, my hair was falling out, my periods were nonexistent, and even my sleep and mood were affected. I knew a certain degree of imbalance was inevitable, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as it was. Things are thankfully on the mend, so I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me along the way.
I had been off and on the pill for about 8 years, and really wanted to figure out a way to naturally balance my hormones and prevent these symptoms from occurring. After all, imbalanced hormones are a symptom that something isn’t working properly within your body. Focusing on liver and gut health has been a big piece to getting my period back and balancing my hormones, but I felt like I needed an extra boost. In comes seed cycling!
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling is a safe and natural method of rotating certain seeds at different times of your menstrual cycle. There are four specific seeds that support hormone balance. Flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds. These seeds provide various oils, vitamins, minerals, and phytoestrogens that help stimulate production, detoxification, and metabolism of estrogen and progesterone.
As a result, these seeds can help alleviate hormone related symptoms like acne, amenorrhea, heavy bleeding, insomnia, infertility, fatigue, cramps and irregular periods.
There are four phases to your menstrual cycle- the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulatory phase, and luteal phase. During the menstrual and follicular phase, your body needs support producing and metabolizing estrogen. This is when flax and pumpkin seeds come into play. They contain the phytoestrogens, vitamins, and minerals to produce estrogen AND excrete any excess from your body so it doesn’t build up and lead to symptoms. Sesame and sunflower seeds are important during the ovulatory and luteal phase to support production and metabolism of progesterone. Having a proper balance of estrogen to progesterone is key to prevent symptoms like painful periods, irregular periods, acne, and more.
How to use seed cycling for hormone balance
Aside from the imbalances that result from hormonal birth control, many women experience what is known as estrogen dominance as a result of xenoestrogens in our environment. Xenoestrogens are a category of endocrine disruptors that specifically have estrogen-like effects. We are exposed to these endocrine disruptors from pesticides, plastic, cosmetic products (chemical sunscreens are known endocrine disruptors), food preservatives, food dyes, and more. While it is incredibly difficult to avoid all of these harmful substances in this day and age, we can take steps to help mitigate some of the damage they cause.
Seed cycling is one way to help nudge your hormones in the right direction. Here’s how it works: Day one of your cycle is the first day you get your period. A healthy cycle will vary in length, but somewhere between 25-35 days is optimal.
When to start seed cycling
Days 1-14 (the first day of your period through ovulation): eat 1 tbsp daily of both flax and pumpkin seeds to support estrogen production and metabolism.
- FLAX & PUMPKIN– Contain necessary nutrients for estrogen production. Also contain lignans (flax), which help to bind excess estrogen so that it can be eliminated from the body and prevent estrogen dominance.
Days 15-28: eat 1 tbsp daily of both sesame and sunflower seeds to boost progesterone production and metabolism.
- SESAME & SUNFLOWER: High in selenium and vitamin E which are known to stimulate progesterone production.
If you know you ovulate on day 17 of your cycle and not day 14, adjust the days of cycling so you switch to the sesame and sunflower phase right after you ovulate.
Can seed cycling help with acne?
Yes! In addition to helping with acne, seed cycling can be helpful if you have any of the following symptoms or conditions:
- Irregular periods
- Absent periods
- Heavy flows
- PMS (bloating, mood swings, pain, changes in energy, headaches)
- Painful and tender breasts
- Hair loss and brittle hair
- Water retention
I recommend giving your body at least three full cycles to adjust before determining whether or not this method has been helpful for you. I noticed a difference in the first month, but not everyone will. Listen to your body and give it time! This method is not a “cure all” by any means. However, coupled with proper diet and lifestyle changes, your hormones will be well on their way to balance!
Can I use seed cycling if I don’t know what phase of my cycle I’m in?
This may sound odd to you or like some sort of weird voodoo, but if you don’t know where you are in your cycle, you base it off of the moon. The New Moon would be day 1 of your cycle where you would start with the pumpkin and flax seeds. The Full Moon would mark ovulation, when you switch to sesame and sunflower seeds.
Alternatively, if your most recent period was only a few months ago, you can calculate where you would be in your cycle based upon your last period and start based upon that. Additionally, this would be a great method to use if you are thinking about transitioning off of hormonal birth control. This can help mitigate any of the side effects you experience as a result, and get your hormones back into balance.
Seed cycling tips & tricks
- I recommend storing the seeds in the fridge or freezer to prevent them from going rancid.
- You do not need to soak your seeds first. In fact, this will make them harder to grind up and turn them to mush, so I recommend NOT soaking your seeds at all. Grinding them will make them easy to digest and more bioavailable anyway!
- While you can buy pre-ground flax seeds at the grocery store, I recommend buying all of the seeds whole and raw and grinding them yourself. This way you can ensure they are as fresh and potent as possible and work as intended.
- You can eat the seeds virtually any way you want. I tend to add them to smoothies or oatmeal, but I’ve included a recipe for seed cycling energy bites to make it easy to incorporate these seeds into your daily life.
- You can use either black or white sesame seeds for this method.
- You can have the seeds for the phase you’re in at any time of day.
- This method is not an exact science, so it’s ok if you miss a day, only eat one of the recommended seeds, or incorporate the seeds from the other phases into the current phase you’re in. If you’re menstruating and are therefore having flax and pumpkin seeds but you want some tahini, go for it! Just try to have the focus stay on the particular seeds for that phase.
One final thought
If you’re struggling with hormonal imbalances after birth control, I highly recommend this book by Dr. Jolene Brighten. It can really help you understand how the pill works, why it doesn’t “balance” your hormones, and how to recover after years of taking it. Your body always wants to heal and maintain homeostasis, and there are countless simple, safe, and natural ways to support your body and your hormones.
If you need additional support for hormone balance, acne, hair loss, or other health concerns, you can schedule a consultation with me. We can work together to support your body in a safe and gentle way to bring you back to optimal health.
I recommend using a high quality food processor for this recipe, but a high speed blender will also work. If you try out seed cycling to support hormone balance, let me know in the comments how it works for you!Print
Easy and delicious, these seed cycling energy bites are a simple way to nudge your hormones back into balance.
- 7 tbsp flax or sesame seeds (depending on phase)
- 7 tbsp pumpkin or sunflower seeds (depending on phase)
- 4–5 pitted medjool dates
- 1/3 cup almond butter or any nut butter
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 4 tbsp shredded coconut
- Optional: 1 scoop plant based protein powder
- Optional: 2 tbsp cacao powder
- Add the seeds you are using to the food processor or high speed blender and process until they are finely ground.
- Add all remaining ingredients and process until a dough forms (about 30 seconds to a minute, but careful not to over process).
- Taste the mixture and add in any additional flavorings if desired.
- Use a spoon to scoop out dough and form into even size balls.
- Roll into shredded coconut or leave as is.
- Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you’re exactly following the rules of seed cycling, you would want to eat two of these bites per day. One batch will then last one week. You can double the batch to last you through the first two phases of your cycle, then switch out the seeds and make a batch for the next two phases of your cycle.
If the energy balls seem to wet, you can add in a scoop or two of oats to help absorb some of the moisture. This also adds nice texture to the mix.
Keywords: seed cycling, seed cycling for acne, seed cycling hormone balance, energy ball recipe