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Seed Cycling

I first heard of seed cycling from a patient of mine who works as a nutritionist in Vermont. Seed cycling is not really new but it is newly trendy. The idea behind seed cycling is that certain types of seeds, such as pumpkin, flax, and sunflower, can help regulate the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones.


Synchronizing your consumption of various seeds with your menstrual cycle may relieve hormone-related symptoms such as PMS, PCOS, irregular periods, hot flashes, weight gain, acne, and generally increase your level of well-being.


Some people look to hormonal birth control to regulate these symptoms. But if you’re trying to become pregnant or just looking to avoid taking hormonal birth control, your options can feel limited.


Perhaps that’s why seed cycling has been on the tip of everyone’s lips over the past year or so. It’s certainly not a new method—alternative medicine practitioners from herbalists to acupuncturists and naturopaths have long recommended it for a list of hormonal woes including infertility and menopause.


Seed cycling has been used by women for decades. I want to be very clear that the practice is a dietary one aimed at supporting your hormones and supplying your body with the nutrients and building blocks to do what it does best.


But when I see statements like, “seed cycling can cure cancer,” I gotta encourage some caution. What you will find on PubMed is the nutritional benefits of each of the seeds and how they can help create more optimal hormones as part of a holistic lifestyle practice.


It is very important to understand that when you seed cycle you can't skimp on sleep, hydration or exercise.


How to seed cycle

It is very easy. During the follicular phase, estrogen is the star. For days 1-14 of your cycle eat 1 tablespoon each of fresh ground flax and raw pumpkin seeds per day. These seeds naturally support estrogen production but can also help in clearing excess estrogen, also known as estrogen dominance.


In the luteal phase, progesterone takes over at center stage. After ovulation or on day 15 of the cycle, switch from flax seeds and pumpkin seeds to 1 tablespoon each of raw sunflower and sesame seeds per day. Sesame seeds (high in zinc) and sunflower seeds (high in vitamin E) help with progesterone production during the luteal phase.

Continue eating sunflower and sesame seeds daily through day 28 of your cycle. You then switch back to flax and pumpkin seeds once you start your period again.


Seed cycling works best when the seeds are raw and freshly ground, as grinding the seeds increases the surface area for absorption. There are many options for ways to consume the seeds, including:

  • Making fresh seed butter (to enjoy with fruit or toast)

  • Making a raw seed-based granola

  • Sprinkling seeds on a salad

  • Blending seeds into smoothies

  • Mixing seeds into salad dressing

  • Adding seeds to chia pudding, oatmeal, or yogurt parfaits


It can take one to three months for you to see the benefits of seed cycling. I recommend keeping a journal to keep track of your symptoms through the cycle so you can look back to see impacts over time. Happy cycling!

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