top of page

Seed Cycling for Balancing Hormones

Updated: Apr 19

Seed cycling has long been used to help support women’s hormones and menstrual cycles by providing their bodies with specific nutrients throughout the cycle.


What is seed cycling?

Seed cycling is a practice of eating certain seeds in a cycle that follows the menstrual cycle. These seed cycles occur in 2 week increments following the cyclical changes that happen with the menstrual cycle.


Follicular Phase - Ovulation (Days 1-14):

Eat 1-2 tbsp each of raw, fresh ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds


Ovulation - Luteal Phase (Days 15-28):

Eat 1-2 tbsp each of raw, fresh ground sunflower and sesame seeds.


*These estimates are for women who have a regular 28 cycle and ovulated *approximately* on day 14. If your cycle is shorter or longer, adjust accordingly. If you don’t have a cycle to follow, it’s recommended to take these in a similar biphasic fashion throughout the month (2 weeks of one followed by 2 weeks of the other).


seed cycling for hormones with flax, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds

How Does Seed Cycling Work?

The beginning of your cycle is the first day you start your period. This marks the beginning of the follicular phase. On day 1, you will start consuming the follicular phase seeds and you’ll continue until day 14 or the day after you ovulate (if you are tracking ovulation). Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds help balance estrogen, which dominates this part of the cycle. You should consume 1tbsp of both flax and pumpkin seeds daily during the follicular phase.


After ovulation or day 15, you will switch to the luteal phase seeds. Sunflower and sesame seeds support progesterone levels, which dominates the second half of the cycle. You should consume 1 tbsp of both sunflower and sesame seeds daily until your period starts. Then re-start the cycle over again.


Seed cycling can be a great way to improve your nutrition throughout your cycle, but shouldn’t be used as a stand-alone therapy or used in place of a prescribed treatment. Incorporating seeds into your daily routine can not only support your reproductive health, but can provide you with a variety of nutrients, exposure to more essential fatty acids (EFAs), and can improve digestion.


What’s the science?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of research directly focused on seed cycling currently. However, lack of direct evidence doesn’t disprove it’s medicinal capabilities. Women have been using seeds for decades to help make their cycles more comfortable. Even though there aren’t any studies on ‘seed cycling’ that exist, there are studies that examine these seeds and their individual benefits.


Follicular Blend:

Flax Seeds-

Are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, lignans and fiber. Linoleic acid converts into GLA and DGLA which help to create prostaglandins which help stimulate ovulation to occur (prostaglandins can also be given to women to induce labor). Essential fatty acids (EFAs) also help to reduce inflammation, cramping, breast tenderness and fatigue.


There are phytoestrogens in flaxseed, which resemble the estrogen produced by our body. These help to increase estrogen levels which is the dominant hormone in the first half of our cycle. These can also help menopausal women who are dealing with hot flashes. Flaxseeds can also help to reduce high androgen levels like DHEA and testosterone which can balance estrogen.


Pumpkin Seeds-

Are high in Vitamin E, unsaturated fatty acids, and proteins. These components can help reduce oxidative stress- which can cause inflammation. High levels of inflammation can lead to cramping, migraines, and breast tenderness during the PMS window. Zinc is important for testosterone health and production. Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants, which are essential for reproductive function and support of ovaries, uterus, and other organ systems.


Interestingly, they have been shown to have anti-depressive effects. They contain an amino acid called tryptophan. This is a pre-cursor to serotonin which is the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy and at -ease. Serotonin is also a precursor to melatonin. This may be why women who have used them for months report better sleep.


seed cycling flax and pumpkin seeds

Luteal Blend:

Sunflower Seeds-

High in unsaturated fats and Vitamin E. Vitamin E is made up of tocopherols and tocotrienols- from Greek tokos means ‘birth’ and pherein means ‘to bear or carry’. Its components were named after its connection to fertility!


Sunflower seeds help to lower blood glucose levels which can support healthier progesterone levels during the luteal phase and can help to reduce sweet cravings. These can also have a positive effect on your cholesterol. Cholesterol is the building block for all of your sex hormones.


Sesame Seeds-

Have high levels of lignans that can help with estrogen detoxification. One of the more common causes of PMS is high levels of estrogen in the luteal phase. Sesame seeds are also high in B vitamins which help with neurotransmitter production like GABA and dopamine. Increasing these levels during the luteal phase may help reduce brain fog, difficulty concentrating and improve focus.


This added source of fiber can also help to promote healthy digestion and more regular bowel movements. Getting adequate amounts of fiber can also help to better regulate blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance.


seed cycling sunflower and sesame seeds

Where can I buy them?

You can find full seeds and ground seeds at natural health food stores. Always opt for an organic brand! If you’re consuming non-ground seeds, you may need to increase your intake.


I have personally used seeds from Funk it Wellness This female-owned company sources all organic and non-GMO seeds for their blends. They are easy to mix with water or in smoothies and honestly taste real good. Use ZAREMBA15 to save 15% on your order!


Seed cycling alone should not be used to regulate hormones or address any reproductive disorders, but it can be helpful in providing a variety of nutrients, antioxidants, fatty acids, and proteins to your diet. There are many benefits of consuming these seeds outside of the hormonal factors and can help improve health as a whole.


 

Working with me

If you are looking to balance your hormones naturally, you can click here to sign up with a complimentary 15 minute phone call with me. We can discuss your goals at that time and determine whether or not we will be a good fit for each other. We will discuss necessary nutrients, dietary options, as well as lifestyle and exercise programs catered to YOU specifically to help you reach your health goals.

Dr. Katie Zaremba natural fertility doctor

About Dr. Zaremba:

Dr. Zaremba received her bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in Biomedical Sciences and minored in Chemistry and Psychology. She completed her doctoral training at Palmer College of Chiropractic. During her time in school, she took post-doctoral training through The Clinic on Disease and Internal Disorders (CDID) earning her a Diplomate from the American Board of Chiropractic Internists (DABCI).


 

This web site offers health, wellness, fitness and nutritional information and is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this web site. The use of any information provided on this web site is solely at your own risk. Nothing stated or posted on this web site or available through any services offered by Dr. Katie Zaremba DC, Dr. Katie Zaremba LLC, are intended to be, and must not be taken to be, the practice of medicine. Information provided on this web site DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and any doctor affiliated with our web site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.



References:

Seth C. Yoder, Samuel M. Lancaster, Meredith A.J. Hullar, Johanna W. Lampe,

Chapter 7 - Gut Microbial Metabolism of Plant Lignans: Influence on Human Health,

Editor(s): Kieran Tuohy, Daniele Del Rio, Diet-Microbe Interactions in the Gut, Academic Press, 2015, Pages 103-117.


Parikh M, Maddaford TG, Austria JA, Aliani M, Netticadan T, Pierce GN. Dietary Flaxseed as a Strategy for Improving Human Health. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1171. Published 2019 May 25.


Brooks JD, Ward WE, Lewis JE, Hilditch J, Nickell L, Wong E, Thompson LU. Supplementation with flaxseed alters estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal women to a greater extent than does supplementation with an equal amount of soy. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Feb;79(2):318-25.


Nowak DA, Snyder DC, Brown AJ, Demark-Wahnefried W. The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Study. Curr Top Nutraceutical Res. 2007;5(4):177-181.


Joachim M. Dotto, James S. Chacha, The potential of pumpkin seeds as a functional food ingredient: A review, Scientific African, Volume 10, 2020.


Marianna N. Xanthopoulou, Tzortzis Nomikos, Elizabeth Fragopoulou, Smaragdi Antonopoulou, Antioxidant and lipoxygenase inhibitory activities of pumpkin seed extracts,

Food Research International, Volume 42, Issues 5–6, 2009, Pages 641-646.


Cheenam, B., & Leena, P. (2016). Effects of sunflower seeds on fasting blood glucose in diabetes mellitus type 2 patients. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 8(4), 1211–1217.

Mohd Mutalip SS, Ab-Rahim S, Rajikin MH. Vitamin E as an Antioxidant in Female Reproductive Health. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018;7(2):22. Published 2018 Jan 26.


Wu WH, Kang YP, Wang NH, Jou HJ, Wang TA. Sesame ingestion affects sex hormones, antioxidant status, and blood lipids in postmenopausal women. J Nutr. 2006 May ;136(5):1270-5.



Comments


bottom of page