What is seed cycling? Today we are breaking down all about seed cycling and how it can help with balancing hormones and having a healthy period. A detailed guide on what, how, when, why, and some ideas of how you can incorporate seeds into your lifestyle!
I am so excited about this post!!! Today we are talking all about seed cycling!
If you have no idea what seed cycling is or what I’m even referring to, it’s going to sound a little crazy, but it is magical (in my own personal experience). It has been so helpful for me for balancing my hormones and having a healthy menstrual cycle over the last 10 months.
Once I start breaking seed cycling down, it might sound a little hippie/woo-woo, but it works. Bonus it is so easy to implement isn’t expensive, and has made some drastic changes for some.
If you are not familiar with my history, you can check out my health and fitness journey. That post is a very in-depth look into my diet and lifestyle the past 10-15 years of my life.
For a shorter version, I have not had a regular period for 10 years – I went on birth control in 2006 when I entered college. My cycle was never really regular and that is pretty much the go-to from doctors nowadays. I was also in a long-term relationship so it made sense.
After that relationship ended, I decided to go off birth control as I didn’t like how it was making me feel. That was in 2008. Over the next 10 years, I struggled with food and fitness – I was very restrictive in my eating and over-exercised.
Along with that and going off birth control, I didn’t have a regular period for 10 years of my life. I thought it was amazing though – no worrying about tampons, cramping, bloating, and all of that.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized this wasn’t healthy and if we wanted to start a family one day, I needed to look into fixing this. Note – we are not trying to get pregnant right now, but I think it’s important to have healthy hormones regardless if you want kids or not.
Over the past year, I have been working hard to live a more balanced life – eating a lot more food, working out less, listening to my body, taking supplements, seed cycling, and educating myself. And I’m happy to say, I’ve been successful!
I started these changes in June 2018 and since August 2018 I’ve been getting a period. Not every 28 days, but I’ve been getting one, which is HUGE for me.
Update: I have had my cycle consistently for the past 2 years and it has been great!
I attribute a lot of this to all of the lifestyle changes I have made along with seed cycling. So today I am sharing all about seed cycling and how it can help you regulate your cycle. I asked on Instagram and you gave me all your questions so I hope this explains it all.
If you have any more questions, drop them in the comments!
What is seed cycling?
We all have heard the term “food is medicine” and seed cycling is exactly that. Seed cycling is a natural way to balance your hormones via food. Let’s talk about our cycle first to get familiar with the different phases.
The start of your period is day 1 of your cycle. This is your follicular phase where an egg is maturating and your estrogen starts low but steadily increases. This is in preparation for ovulation, where the egg is released, and where pregnancy can happen. We want our estrogen to be balanced during this phase.
The follicular phase ends at ovulation, which is usually on day 14, where the egg is released. Ovulation is where you have a high chance of getting pregnant (you can’t just get pregnant on any day of your cycle).
Then on day 15, you enter the luteal phase. The luteal phase has the now-empty follicle that turns into a structure called the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and rises throughout the phase. This helps thicken the uterine lining for pregnancy, but if the egg is not fertilized, you will get your period and the lining will shed. Estrogen levels also increase, but if they get too high they can lead to a difficult cycle and PMS symptoms.
Women’s cycles are supposed to sync up with the lunar cycle (the moon). Historically, our cycle begins on the new moon and then ovulating on the full moon. Read more about the moon and fertility.
Many women struggle and have difficulties with their menstrual cycle. This includes cramping, breast tenderness, painful periods, acne, irregular cycles, heavy or light bleeding, PMS, infertility, and more. These symptoms are usually our body telling us there is some kind of hormonal imbalance.
Eating the right seeds through these phases can help with improving symptoms and balancing your sex hormones, leading to a healthier cycle. During the first half of your cycle, you consume seeds that promote estrogen production, and during the second half, you consume seeds that promote progesterone.
How does seed cycling work?
It might sound a little out there and woo-woo, but you are basically syncing your cycle with the moon. Each seed has benefits that help with the phases of your cycle.
During the Follicular phase, eat pumpkin and flax seeds. They contain phytoestrogens that help adapt to the body’s estrogen levels by increasing and decreasing estrogen levels where needed. Flax seeds contain lignans that bind to estrogen so it can be removed from the body. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which prepares the body for progesterone secretion in the next phase. Both are great sources of omega 3s which help to reduce inflammation.
During the luteal phase, eat sesame and sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds are high in lignans which help regulate estrogen and progesterone levels. Sunflower seeds are high in selenium, which supports liver function to help with proper hormone excretion. Both are high in omega 6s, which is converted to GLA in the body, supports progesterone levels, and reduces inflammation in the body related to PMS.
Benefits of seed cycling
There are no proven clinical studies proving the benefits of seed cycling, but there are numerous cases of women trying it and reaping the benefits. Here are some of the things it helps with:
- balancing hormone levels
- regulating your cycle
- relieving PMS symptoms – cramping, breast tenderness, acne, painful periods…
- help stimulate menstruation if it is absent
- increase fertility
- can help with conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, and ovarian cysts
It has also been shown that women at any age (menstruating or menopause) can benefit from doing it.
How to seed cycle
So how do you seed cycle? Broken down, it is pretty simple.
Days 1-14 – eat one tablespoon each of pumpkin and flax seeds, freshly ground
Days 15-28 – eat one tablespoon each of sesame and sunflower seeds, freshly ground
Total, you will eat 2 tablespoons of seeds a day – one tablespoon of each depending on where you are in your cycle. I find that when you grind them up, it yields more than a tablespoon each, but that is okay. I use my Vitamix to grind them, but also have heard a coffee grinder works well. It is really that simple!
One of y’all asked about the evening primrose oil and honestly, I have never heard of that. I looked it up and it is supposed to be used during the luteal phase as a bonus to help, but I don’t have any experience with it.
Do you have to grind seeds for seed cycling?
Yes, I like to grind my seeds fresh every morning. Technically you really only need to grind the flax and sesame to make sure they are absorbed, but I just find it easiest to grind them both together.
Seeds begin to oxidize 15 minutes after they are ground, so it is best to eat them shortly after grinding. Sometimes this just isn’t in the cards (like due to travel – I’ve ground a bunch in advance and brought them with me), so I say do the best you can.
The seeds should be raw as well. If you can get organic seeds, that is even better as pesticides are known to disrupt your hormones.
What if I can’t have a certain seed?
You are supposed to eat both kinds of seeds each day. Unfortunately, some people can’t have certain kinds of seeds as they are allergic or have other reasons. If this is the case for you, I would just eat whatever seeds you can.
Each seed has a specific role to help the phase you are in and having one is better than none at all, in my opinion. I have also read that you can do two tablespoons of one seed if you can’t do the other.
Should I eat the seeds at the same time every day?
While it’s not proven, I think it is helpful to eat them at the same time every day. It gets you in a routine and soon grinding your seeds will be second nature. I like doing it in the morning as I find it easier to incorporate them into my food and my body’s digestive system is fresh.
What if my cycle is shorter or longer than 28 days?
You might think if your cycle is shorter or longer than 28 days you might not be able to do seed cycling but that is definitely not the case. Most female’s cycles are not exactly 28 days.
My cycle has slowly and slowly been getting closer to 28 days, but at first, it was around 37 days. I had no idea how long and when the next time I would get my period since it was so irregular/nonexistent in the past.
Once I would hit day 28 and didn’t get my period, I would just start over on the pumpkin and flax and take them until I got my period. Then I would start over again on the pumpkin and flax (starting from day 1) and take them for 14 days, and then switch to the sesame and sunflower.
Basically, it was a lot of pumpkin and flax in a row. Now I am around 30 days per cycle so it has been helping!
If you are shorter than 28 days, just do the opposite. Once you get your period, start with the pumpkin and flax even though you are not done with the sesame and sunflower. Over time it will hopefully get you to 28 days.
If your cycle is regular and always longer or shorter, just adjust the seeds to fit your needs. You will switch seeds halfway through your cycle when you ovulate. You know your body the best. The way I have been doing it has been helping decrease my cycle length for me, but I’m all about finding what works best for you.
When should I start seed cycling?
Seed cycling is great if you have just stopped birth control and trying to get your cycle back. Unfortunately being on the pill gives you a fake bleed and really isn’t your period (that is a whole other topic for another day, but I recommend reading Period Repair Manual). If you are on birth control, I would wait until you are off to help with your natural cycle.
If you are not on birth control, you can start whenever your cycle starts! It is a great way to help reduce period symptoms, balance your hormones, and get a regular cycle.
If you don’t have a cycle at all, just start! I have heard people start and follow the 28-day cycle and after a handful or more months, their cycle will come back. It’s crazy!
Can you start seed cycling mid-cycle?
If you know your cycle is exactly 28 days (or however many days), you could start mid-cycle. Just incorporate the pumpkin and flax or sesame and sunflower wherever you are.
If your cycle is not regular, I would just wait until the first day of your period and start with the pumpkin and flax.
Ways to incorporate seed cycling in your diet
There are quite a few ways to add seeds to your diet. I eat my seeds in the morning, so most of these ways are for breakfast foods. Here are some of my favorite ways:
- seed cycling energy balls – an easy way to make them in bulk
- smoothies – blended in
- oatmeal – mixed right in
- overnight oats – mix right in
- seed/nut butter – I will take the ground-up seeds and mix them with some maple syrup, almond milk or nut butter, and cinnamon or a combination of them all and make a makeshift seed butter
- mashed with avocado
- pancakes – mixed into the batter
- waffles – mixed into the batter
- sprinkle on a salad
- add on top or mix in with yogurt
- sprinkled on salad
Sometimes the heat can denature the nutrients, so I would just be careful with that. I honestly don’t think about it too much though if adding it to warm foods.
Some days I just eat them dry after I grind them. Yes, for real. It’s not ideal, but if I’m in a rush and need to eat them, this gets it done. Michael says it looks like I’m eating sawdust haha. You really can add them to whatever you like – use your imagination!
I am working on an energy ball/moon bite recipe specifically with using seeds so stay tuned for that!
A cost-effective way to incorporate seed cycling
You might be thinking buying seeds would really expensive, but it really isn’t. When you think of a good quality supplement at the store that can cost you anywhere from $20-50 per month, seeds are really inexpensive.
One way that I have found to really save money is to buy your seeds from the bulk section. As you can see from the picture below, I can get 2-3 cups for $2-3. A small spice bottle of sesame seeds (maybe 1/4 cup) can be $5 at the store, so buying in bulk can really save you money.
I have also found buying them in bulk on Amazon is great, and what I have been doing lately! You can get organic and raw seeds for a great price that will last a long time. I love these ones:
I buy a bunch at a time and store them in these weck jars to make sure they stay fresh. If you don’t have a local grocery that has a bulk section, check out Amazon!
The changes I have seen with seed cycling
As I said above, the reason I started seed cycling was to get my cycle back to normal/have a cycle. When I first started seed cycling, my cycle was around 37 days long. 8 months later, my last cycle was only 30 days long! As I continue, it has been getting shorter and shorter.
Since I didn’t have my period that often when I would get it, I would get bad cramping and it would also be pretty heavy. Over the past few months I’ve noticed that each time I get it, my craps get less and less. My last mensuration was 2 weeks ago and I had zero cramps. My flow is also a lot lighter, which has been really nice.
I still have some swelling in my breasts just before my cycle and during it, but I’m hoping as I continue, it will reduce.
Update: I have had my cycle consistently for the past 2 years and it has been great!
Overall, I just have a much healthier cycle with seed cycling. If you are struggling with yours, I encourage you to try it out for a few months and see what you think. It will take some time (I would give it 3-6 months at least), but it is a cheap and easy way to experiment and help with your cycle and balancing your hormones.
It doesn’t have to be an end all be all though. Since I have been doing it for almost 10 months, I take them every day as it’s a habit. If you forget one day, don’t beat yourself up about it. Give yourself some grace and patience when incorporating something new and different into your routine.
I hope this post helps and if you have tried seed cycling before, what did you think? Has it helped you?
Please note that I am not a doctor and this is my own personal experience with seed cycling. If you have severe hormone imbalances and need individual support, consult with a holistic practitioner.
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