Seed cycling for hormonal balance gets 10 out of 15 points when we look at science, safety, and simplicity. Many women benefit from seed cycling, but studies haven’t proven the effectiveness.
Do you want to start seed cycling, but you don’t know where to start? Or maybe you have heard it doesn’t work? Let’s get into the details of seed cycling.
- The science about how well seed cycling works
- How safe is seed cycling
- Whether it’s difficult to seed cycle
- How expensive seeds are for seed cycling
- How to get started with seed cycling
By the time we’re done, you’ll know whether you want to try it out as a method to balance your hormones.
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is when we eat two tablespoons of freshly ground seeds each day. From the first day of our period through ovulation, we eat flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. After ovulation through our period, we eat sunflower and sesame seeds.
The vitamins and nutrients in these particular seeds help our bodies naturally produce the hormones we need. During the first half, we want to increase estrogen levels. And after ovulation, we want to get rid of excess estrogen and increase progesterone. When we optimize these hormone levels, we can improve common hormonal imbalances.
What is a Hormonal Imbalance?
We have so many hormones fluctuating through our monthly cycle. We want to get the balance of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and others exactly right. If any hormone is too high or too low, it can cause undesirable symptoms.
Stress, nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar spikes, insufficient sleep, and more can cause a hormonal imbalance. We need to take care of ourselves to get all hormones in balance and feel healthy.
The Science Around Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance
The evidence around seed cycling for hormonal balance needs improvement. But each of the seeds has vitamins, healthy fats, and fiber that can improve diet overall.
First Half of the Cycle
We use flax seeds and pumpkin seeds on day one of our period. Pumpkin seeds have zinc, which helps remove excess prostaglandins from our bodies. One benefit during our period is prostaglandins cause menstrual cramps. Our cramps will not be as painful or frequent with fewer prostaglandins. Bring on the pumpkin seeds!
Flax seeds seem to be the most scientifically proven seed for hormonal balance. In one study, flax seeds daily increased the luteal phase’s length and increased the progesterone to estradiol ratio in the luteal phase. The women in the study also had fewer anovulatory (no ovulation occurred) cycles.
What does that mean?
- If your luteal phase is shorter than average, flax seeds could help increase it. A longer luteal phase increases fertility and could decrease symptoms of spotting before your period.
- If you have estrogen dominance, try adding flax seeds. With estrogen dominance, there is too much estradiol compared to progesterone. Flax seeds reverse these hormone levels.
- Health professionals consider it normal for women not to ovulate occasionally. However, since our period acts as our 5th vital sign, we know it’s healthier for us to ovulate. We’re less likely to skip ovulation when we eat flax seeds.
Second Half of the Cycle
During the second half of our cycle, most women want to metabolize any excess estrogen and increase progesterone levels. Sunflower seeds contain a lot of vitamin E, which was called “anti-sterility factor X” when it was first discovered in 1922. Vitamin E increases fertility. So perhaps adding sunflower seeds to your diet would improve hormonal balance.
Sesame seeds are high in selenium which helps our body detox excess estrogen. Estrogen peaks at ovulation, and we want to eliminate it in the second half of the cycle to reduce estrogen dominance symptoms.
As someone with a scientific mind, I can’t give seed cycling a high rating in science. So far, there hasn’t been much scientific proof it works to balance hormones.
I give the science around seed cycling a 1 out of 5 for improving hormonal balance.
Safety of Seed Cycling
When we try out seed cycling, we add certain foods to our diet at a particular time. Diet is the best first thing to change to improve hormonal balance. And eating seeds won’t hurt us.
The seeds don’t significantly affect hormonal levels, so they are safe to try. The risk is minimal, so feel free to try it and see if it works for you.
I give the safety of seed cycling a 5 out of 5 for improving hormonal balance.
The Simplicity of Using Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance
One of the most time-consuming parts is freshly grinding the seeds every couple of days. I have a coffee grinder I use specifically for seeds, so I don’t need to wash anything afterward. Washing a food processor will add time and complexity.
Many women get tired of adding seeds to their food or eating the same seed cycling recipes. To stick with it, we need to get creative with recipes.
And it’s essential to stick with it. Seed cycling is not something you try for a week or two. To get sustained change, it may take three cycles before our hormones balance. Trying seed cycling requires a time commitment.
I give the simplicity of using essential oils a 3 out of 5 for improving hormonal balance.
Cost of Using Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance
The seeds used in seed cycling range in price, depending on where you buy them. At a specialty grocery store, they can be pretty expensive. I love buying sprouted pumpkin seeds at Costco because you can get a huge bag for about $10.
I usually buy my seeds at Thrive Market. If you haven’t tried it out yet, you can save 25% by trying them here. FYI, if you purchase using this link, I get a little bonus. (Thank you!)
The cost of seed cycling is a bit more expensive than some other snacks we may be used to purchasing. But we’re getting lots of added vitamins, fiber, and healthy fat.
I give using essential oils for hormonal balance two $$ out of $$$$$.
How To Get Started With Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance
Seed cycling is pretty straightforward. Once we have our bulk bags of pumpkin, flax, sunflower, and sesame seeds, we can prepare one recipe for each half of the cycle.
- For the follicular (first half) mix, combine 1 part pumpkin seeds and 1 part flax seeds.
- For the luteal (second half) mix, combine 1 part sunflower seeds and 1 part sesame seeds.
I like to put my seeds in mason jars because it’s easy, and it’s something I always have around.
Then we need to figure out which blend to use. If you’re not tracking ovulation, the easiest way to pick a blend is to think about the start of your period. If it was less than 14 days ago, use the follicular mix. If it was more than 14 days ago, use the luteal mix. Then switch when you hit ovulation or your period.
My Three Favorite Ways to Use Seeds Daily
There are so many things to do with seeds. I’m sometimes surprised by how easy it is to incorporate them.
- Add them to something you’re already eating. I’ve blended my seeds into soups and added them to salads, oatmeal, and yogurt.
- Make seed cycling balls. Seed cycling balls are such a great snack. I make them in bulk and freeze them. I’ve pinned some of my favorite recipes on Pinterest.
- Seed crusted chicken or fish – I’ve enjoyed some pumpkin seed crusted chicken, and when I cook Asian-style chicken, I’ll add my sesame seeds on top. Crusting a protein is an easy way to add seeds to something you’re already eating and make it more nutritious while making you forget you’re eating seeds. (Again.)
For the Skimmers – A Quick Summary
Even though there is minimal evidence of whether seed cycling works, many women have found it helped fix a hormonal imbalance. If it’s something you want to try, the good news is it’s not going to harm you in any way, and if it works for you, it a natural way to balance hormones.
I recommend tracking your symptoms before and after beginning seed cycling (or any intervention) to see whether it’s improving your symptoms. For some help tracking symptoms, join my free 4-day mini-course. You’ll learn about the CHI method, which teaches you how to use your cycle, HRV, and interventions to determine what is making a difference in your health.