How to Use Seed Cycling to Balance Hormones
WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE ROME | FEATURED ON:
Seed cycling is a perfect example of using food as medicine to balance hormone levels naturally. This practice helps to regulate and support the menstrual cycle by boosting estrogen levels in the first part and progesterone levels in the second part. Different seeds contain different types of nutrients that our hormones need throughout the cycle.
Who is seed cycling for?
This practice can be used by anyone who is experiencing absent or irregular periods, anovulatory cycles, heavy flows, cramps, or PMS symptoms, as well as women looking to boost fertility or those going through peri-menopause and menopause.
How does it work?
Day 1 of your menstrual cycle is the first day of your period. From day 1 – 14, the goal is to boost estrogen which builds up the uterine lining. This is called the Follicular Phase. Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds provide the nutrients (like lignans and zinc) needed to support estrogen production, as well as assist with excess estrogen clearance.
Day 15 – 28 is known as the Luteal Phase. Post-ovulation, the corpus luteum secretes progesterone which helps to thicken the uterine lining and prepare it for implantation. The high content of zinc in sesame seeds and vitamin E in sunflower seeds support progesterone production.
How do you do it?
The first phase of your cycle is called the Follicular Phase (day 1-14). During these fourteen days, it’s best to have a daily dose of:
1 tbsp. freshly ground flax seeds*
1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
The second phase of your cycle is called the Luteal Phase (day 15-28). During these fourteen days, it’s best to have a daily dose of:
*I recommend freshly ground flax seeds and sesame seeds. It is important to grind them fresh, instead of buying them pre-ground (such as flaxmeal) because the oils they contain are delicate and can easily oxidize. If you don’t already have one, you can pick up a cheap spice mill / coffee grinder and use that to grind your seeds. For convenience, you can grind enough for the week and keep them in a mason jar or other sealed container in the refrigerator to maintain maximum freshness.
**I use the Whole Foods 365 Organic Tahini. I’ve tried several brands of tahini over the years and it’s the only one I like.
How to incorporate seeds into your daily diet?
You can easily add seeds or seed butters to smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal/porridge at breakfast, or sprinkle them on top of salads and soups at lunch or dinner. I like to make simple seed butter-based sauces with sunflower butter or tahini to drizzle over salads, macro bowls or cooked veggies. My go-to super simple sauce is: 1 Tbsp tahini + 1 Tbsp coconut aminos + 1 Tbsp water, mixed together in a small bowl. If you’d like some other seed butter-based sauce ideas, check out my recipe ebook which has a bunch of yummy ones!
What about women who do not menstruate or who are menopausal?
Women with amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual cycle) or menopausal women can practice seed rotation aligned the moon cycle. You can simply Google when the new and full moon is, or download an app on your phone like “Moon Free.” Consider the new moon Day 1 (i.e. first day of your period / Follicular phase) and the full moon Day 15 (i.e. when you switch to Luteal phase seeds).
How quickly can you expect to see results?
Because seed cycling is a natural process, it’s not a quick fix and doesn’t work like medication. It can take up to 3 months to see significant improvement in your menstrual-related symptoms. Try to be patient and consistent with it!
If you’re struggling with significant hormonal imbalances and symptoms, check out my Hormone Balancing Guide & Cookbook. This ebook will help you understand your hormones and your period, learn the tools to align your lifestyle in a way that nourishes your hormonal system, and provide you with 32 simple and delicious hormone-balancing recipes to make that happen!
Can flax seed oil be used in place of ground flax seeds? Using the ground seeds instead of the oil is preferred as the soluble and insoluble fiber is useful. Specifically, it moves through the digestive system sweeping up the waste, including metabolized hormones. Flax oil is fine to include as well, but just not in place of the seeds. Also, make sure you keep your flax oil in the fridge as it oxidizes quickly.
Why can’t I use whole flax seeds? Grinding flax seeds makes the lignans more biovavailable. If you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you can add the whole flax seeds to your smoothie and they’ll get fully ground up!
Can I eat more of the seeds than 1 Tbsp of each? Of course! One tablespoon of each per day is the recommended medicinal dose, but you’re welcome to eat more.
Are other seeds like hemp and chia off limits while practicing seed rotation? Other seeds do not have an effect, so you can use them freely throughout the month.