Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.
Written on: 3/13/22
What is seed cycling? Keep scrolling to learn more about how to get started, and its benefits.
Seed cycling can feel like a term that gets thrown around a bunch, but do you know what it is? The process isn’t necessarily new, but it is up and coming in popularity in order to help regulate hormones.
Seed cycling is a natural way to try and get your cycle back into balance! Keep reading to learn all about the benefits of eating some seeds.
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling is pretty simple: it’s rotating the consumption of different seeds around your menstrual cycle. Your cycle is made up of different phases – of which eating different foods can help balance those hormones in your body.
Some seeds promote estrogen production, while others promote progesterone production, and there are even seeds that block estrogen production. Eating these seeds around when each respective hormone is most important can help lead to a hormonal rhythm.
Does seed cycling actually work?
The question that everyone wants to know – does seed cycling really work? The short answer: yes!
Although seed cycling is considered to be an alternative medicine, there are studies on each specific seed – pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower – that have shown to mimic similar effects of estrogen and progesterone on the body.
Pumpkin seeds are very high in zinc – some studies report an association with zinc and decreases in menstrual cramps. It’s believed that menstrual cramps are caused by excess prostaglandins, and zinc is thought to decrease the metabolism of prostaglandins. Therefore, helping to lessen the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
In one specific study, people who ate a diet that contained flax found that there were fewer anovulatory cycles. Additionally, the average luteal phase was longer, but cycle length was unchanged and there were little to no changes in estrogen levels.
These facts lead us to believe that flax seeds may have an effect on fertility.
Sesame seeds, similar to pumpkin seeds, are high in zinc which can help the body produce more progesterone and block the excess of estrogen during the luteal phase.
Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E which has many beneficial effects for our bodies including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E truly works as a booster to the immune system by fighting off bacteria and viruses too. Since sunflower seeds are also high in selenium, they help support estrogen detoxification in the liver.
In order to feel your best, making sure that your hormones are balanced is key!
Why is hormone balance important?
Hormone balance is super important in feeling your best throughout your menstrual cycle. Hormone balance is when you have the correct amount of estrogen and progesterone in your body during their respective phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
Once your hormones are in check you’ll probably be able to feel the difference. Your energy levels, mood, appetite, weight and sleep are among some key aspects that are affected by your hormones! Do you know one way to get these hormones back in check? You guessed it, through seed cycling.
Your hormones practically rule your body – that said they have a lot to do with how you feel physically and emotionally. By the process of seed cycling, you can get back to feeling normal just by eating seeds.
How do I seed cycle?
Good news: you can seed cycle whether or not you are on birth control. If you choose to use this method while taking hormonal birth control, think of it as providing your body with an extra boost in making the proper hormones.
The process of seed cycling is not only to balance your hormones, but to try and ease an irregular cycle as well. Because of this, seed cycling is very popular for those who have PCOS. Since the root cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome is hormonal imbalance, eating seeds has a minimal risk and quite possibly a high reward.
Participating in seed cycling is quite easy. Your cycle has two phases: the first phase called the follicular phase lasts from cycle day 1 (the first day of your period) until around the day of ovulation, which typically happens on cycle day 14 for women with a 28 day cycle. The second phase of your cycle is called the luteal phase. This lasts from cycle day 15 all the way until the day before your period starts.
There are two halves to your menstrual cycle – these determine what seeds you take and when!
Phase 1: Follicular
Let’s start with the follicular phase. During this phase, it’s best for you to consume the following each day:
- 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds
- 1 tablespoon of ground pumpkin seeds
You can add these to anything you like – smoothies, toast, cereal, or even on top of some veggies. You consume these two seeds because estrogen levels are usually low at the beginning of the cycle and will increase to prepare for ovulation.
Eating flax seeds can help keep estrogen levels steady, supporting estrogen metabolism as well to reduce estrogen if levels get too high. Pumpkin seeds are used in order to prepare the body for the progesterone production for the next phase of your cycle.
Phase 2: Luteal
Next, is the luteal phase. In this phase you should consume each of the following seeds once per day:
- 1 tablespoon of ground sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon of ground sunflower seeds
In order to make this process easier, try grinding up each mixture of seeds at the beginning of the month. Once each “phase” mixture is created, make sure to refrigerate them! Sesame seeds are used in the second phase of your cycle in order to block estrogen and sunflower seeds are used to support the progesterone levels since they are rising in this phase.
After you try seed cycling out, you may want to make sure that it’s really working for you – especially if you did not have a regular cycle beforehand. Try taking a PdG test to really confirm that this method is beneficial for you and your body. A PdG test is really useful to see if your ovulation has become successful.