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 chia, can help regulate the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. A newly trendy nutrition practice called seed cycling is said to help balance female hormones and curb hormonal symptoms.
Synchronizing your consumption of various seeds with your menstrual cycle can allegedly relieve hormone-related symptoms such as PMS, PCOS, irregular periods, hot flashes, and generally, increase your level of well-being. Some even claim that seed cycling can help you get pregnant.
Seed Cycling by Dr. Bilquis Sheikh
What is Seed Cycling?
In a typical seed cycling protocol, you eat two tablespoons of ground seeds every day. You can mix the seeds into a smoothie or sprinkle them on your oatmeal. Purists insist that the seeds be raw and freshly ground. (Chewing well, of course, counts as grinding.)
Phase One: During phase one, which lasts two weeks, you eat a tablespoon of flax and a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds.
Phase Two: During phase two, which also lasts two weeks, you switch to sunflower and sesame seeds. This adds about 100 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber to your day.
If you’re still menstruating, you’d start phase one (pumpkin and flax) on the first day of your period and switch to phase two (sunflower and sesame) on day 14. If you are no longer menstruating, you can start phase one on the first of the month. Some women like to synchronize their seed cycling to the phases of the moon, beginning phase one on the new moon and phase two on the full moon. Howling is optional.
During a normal menstrual cycle, your estrogen and progesterone levels ebb and fall in a predictable rhythm. As you approach menopause, your hormone levels may start to fluctuate more erratically. After menopause, the production of both hormones settles at a significantly lower level.
Theoretically, seed cycling either enhances or inhibits the production of estrogen and progesterone in the body (depending on what is needed), thereby balancing and optimizing your hormones and relieving symptoms due to hormonal imbalance. A few months of cycling is said to be enough to begin seeing the benefits.
As the trend has taken hold, seed cycling recipe collections, smoothie mixes, energy bars, and cookies have appeared online and in health food stores.
How does it work?
The main aim of seed cycling is to regulate estrogen in the first half of the cycle, and progesterone in the second half. During the first half of the menstrual cycle, it is recommended that you consume 1 tablespoon each of ground flaxseeds and ground pumpkin seeds daily.
Flaxseeds are rich in estrogen-balancing phytoestrogens and inflammation-regulating omega 3s. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc which supports progesterone release and omega 3s to regulate inflammation.
During the second half of the cycle change to 1 tablespoon each of sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds contain estrogen-balancing phytoestrogens, zinc, and selenium, whilst sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E to support progesterone levels and selenium to support estrogen elimination.
Who can benefit?
Seed cycling may be useful for anyone experiencing symptoms associated with female hormone imbalances and is often recommended for women with PMS, PCOS, infertility, endometriosis, and even menopausal symptoms. Seed cycling certainly doesn’t offer a ‘quick fix’ to hormone balance, however, many women report positive changes after just a few months of following these simple guidelines.