Seed cycling balances your hormone levels based on the two main phases of the menstrual cycle, the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
This is done by consuming certain seeds at certain times a month. The nutrients found in these seeds help boost your oestrogen levels in the first phase and progesterone levels in the second.
Why you should seed cycle
Seed cycling is not a form of medication, but is proven to help relieve pain from Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) as well as medical conditions such as ovarian cysts and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It can also help regulate your monthly cycle.
This article uses a 28 day cycle for reference, but it can be adapted to fit your individual cycle. In fact, it is also effective if you are experiencing amenorrhea (no period), pre-menopause, postpartum, and post-menopause.
How to seed cycle
One tablespoon each of the seeds are to be consumed per day, according to the phases. The cycle can be adopted into your daily routine at any point of time, but depends on how familiar you are with your menstrual cycle as well as how regular it is.
A period tracker app is useful, but if you’re unsure or have an irregular cycle, follow the moon cycle. The new moon represents the beginning of the follicular phase while the full moon represents the luteal phase.
Follicular phase: Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds
Oestrogen levels are low at the beginning of menstruation, but increase steadily in preparation for potential pregnancy.
A rise in oestrogen levels stimulates a rise in luteinising hormone (LH) levels, while a drop in oestrogen levels stimulates the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
As such, keeping your oestrogen levels in check is important, as an imbalance in oestrogen will disrupt other hormone levels.
Starting from the first day of your period, eat one tablespoon each of flax and pumpkin seeds.
These seeds are rich in phytoestrogens, a plant-based source of oestrogen that adapts to your body’s oestrogen levels. They increase or decrease oestrogen levels where needed.
This is possible due to their lignan content, a compound flax seeds are abundant in, which bind to oestrogen receptors and helps to modulate oestrogen production.
Besides phytoestrogens, omega-3 is also beneficial, as it helps to reduce inflammation in the body, regulate FSH levels and supports reproductive membrane function.
Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are both rich in omega-3, but pumpkin seeds are also rich in zinc. Zinc prepares the body for progesterone secretion in the luteal phase.
Luteal phase: Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds
During the luteal phase, oestrogen levels drop while progesterone levels are at their highest. Progesterone is the hormone which helps in pain relief for PMS as well as limits oestrogen levels.
Starting on the 15th day of your ovulation cycle, eat one tablespoon each of sesame and sunflower seeds.
Sesame seeds are high in lignans, which modulate oestrogen and progesterone levels. They are also high in zinc and block excess oestrogen. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E which supports progesterone levels.
Both of these seeds are high in selenium, which prevents clogging from excess hormones and thus supports liver function.
They are also rich in omega-6 which converts into gamma-linolenic acids, or GLAs, in the body. This provides a boost for progesterone and reduces inflammation.
Tips and notes
High-quality fish oil is recommended to be taken during the follicular phase, and evening primrose oil during the luteal phase. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 and lignans, while evening primrose oil is high in omega-6 and GLA.
Do consult your doctor beforehand to ensure that seed cycling is suitable for you. Remember that it can take a couple of months before any benefits are visible.
Seed cycling is not an instant cure, especially not for severe health problems. It is, however, a gentler alternative to pharmaceutical supplements in supporting hormone balance as it is natural.
Plus, seeds can be taken with any kind of food. So feel free to add them to your salad, yoghurt or smoothie and get as creative as you want.