Seed Cycling for Balanced Hormones

September 12, 2019

Seed cycling is a natural and gentle way to help balance estrogen and progesterone. The protocol uses a rotation, or cycling, of different seeds and oils to give your body the nutrients it needs to support the different phases of your menstrual cycle. 

Seed cycling supports balanced estrogen and progesterone levels by providing key nutrients and mimicking the body’s natural rhythm.

Seed cycling adds the following seeds to your diet:

In certain instances, the following oils are added for additional benefits:

Seed cycling has been used to help with:

  • Acne
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cellulite
  • Endometriosis
  • Fatigue
  • Fibroids
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular periods
  • Mood swings
  • Night sweats
  • PCOS
  • PMS 
  • Weight gain (hips and thighs)

The graph above shows the natural rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone during the two phases of your menstrual cycle. Phase 1 occurs from the first day of your period to ovulation. During Phase 1, estrogen levels rise while progesterone levels stay low. At the very end of Phase 1, progesterone begins to rise as we enter Phase 2. Phase 2 is from ovulation to the start of your next period. During Phase 2, progesterone levels rise while estrogen levels fall. Keeping the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone in balance is the key to being symptom-free!

In seed cycling, flax and pumpkin seeds provide plant-based sources of estrogens during Phase 1. Flax seeds also help to keep estrogen at the right level for your body – not to high and not too low. This step is important because estrogen is a “wild child.” When left unsupervised, it will most certainly cause trouble – acne, PMS, irregular periods, weight gain, etc. Flax and pumpkin seeds are also rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids which help decrease PMS during your period. Toward the end this Phase, pumpkin seeds provide small amounts of progesterone, which mimics your body’s natural rise in progesterone just before the start of Phase 2.

During Phase 2 of seed cycling, sesame and sunflower seeds provide zinc and Vitamin E, which help support progesterone production. Additionally, sesame and sunflower seeds block estrogen, which causes estrogen levels to fall. Sesame and sunflower seeds are also rich in omega 6 fatty acids which help decrease PMS in the days leading up to your period.

It’s important to work with an experienced seed & oil cycling practitioner (like me!) to create a plan that is customized to you, your body, and your symptoms.

P.S. You don’t have to be menstruating to receive the benefits of hormone balance! Seed cycling can be used during many stages of life. Check out these benefits…

  • Puberty
    • Calms the extreme hormone swings
  • Infertility/Pregnancy Planning
    • When in balance, the likelihood of conceiving is higher
    • Provides critical nutrients for mom & baby
  • Breastfeeding
    • Balanced hormones in mom = balanced hormones in baby
    • Provides critical nutrients for mom & baby
  • Postpartum
    • Calms the extreme hormone swings
  • Perimenopause, Menopause
    • Eases the transition to lower amounts of hormones

References:

Goss PE, Li, T, Theriault M, Pinto S, Thompson LU. (2000). Effects of dietary flaxseed in women with cyclical mastalgia. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 64:49. PMID: 25197571 

Kashanian M, Lakeh MM, Ghasemi A, Noori S. (2013). Evaluation of the effect of Vitamin E on pelvic pain reduction in women suffering from primary dysmenorrhea. J Reprod Med, 58(1-2): 34-38. PMID: 23447916

Kashefi F, Khajehei M, Tabatabaeichehr M, Alavinia M, Asili J. (2014). Comparison of the effect of ginger and zinc sulfate on primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo-controlled randomized trial. Pain Manag Nurs. 15(4):826-33. PMID: 24559600 

Phipps WR, Martini MC, Lampe JW, Slavin JL, Kurzer MS. (1993). Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism77(5):1215 – 1219. PMID: 8077314

Santanam N, Kavtaradze N, Murphy A, Dominguez C, Parthasarathy S. (2013). Antioxidant supplementation reduces endometriosis-related pelvic pain in humans.Transl Res,161(3):189-195. PMID: 22728166 

Teimoori B, Ghasemi M, Hoseini ZS, Razavi M. (2016). The efficacy of zinc administration in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. Oman Med J.  Mar;31(2):107-11 . PMID: 27168920 

Zaineddin AK, Buc K, Vrielin A, Heinz J, Flesch-Janys D, Linseisen J, Chang-Claude J. (2012). The association between dietary lignans, phytoestrogen-rich foods, and fiber intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk: a German case-control study. Nutrition and Cancer, 64(5):652-65. PMID: 22591208