Organization: Erin Falco RDN, Inc.
Author: Kellie Mendes, RDN
Publish Date: 02-15-23
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is the method of eating specific, nutrient dense seeds during particular phases in the menstrual cycle that support two important hormones in a women's body: estrogen and progesterone. Seed cycling is one of the safest and easiest ways to support your hormones, improve PMS symptoms and regulate your menstrual cycle through all stages of womanhood.
Menstrual Cycle Phases
Before we dive into how seed cycling works and when it can be most beneficial, it's important to understand the phases of the menstrual cycle and what hormones are most required during the two phases.
Follicular Phase: (Days 1 - 14) : The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period. Estrogen levels begin low, then gradually rise to prepare for ovulation. Estrogen signals the ovaries to release a mature egg for ovulation. Estrogen levels peak in the last days of the follicular phase.
Luteal Phase (Days 15 - 28): The luteal phase begins on the first day after of ovulation. In the luteal phase, there is a sudden drop in estrogen right after ovulation when progesterone begins to rise. Progesterone is necessary to build up the uterine lining and balance decreasing estrogen levels in prep for potential pregnancy.
How to Use Seed Cycling:
During Phase 1, the Follicular Phase, we aim to support rising estrogen levels by consuming 1 tbsp. flaxseeds and 1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds daily. Flaxseeds are rich in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are a plant based compound which our estrogen receptors treat as if they were estrogen when they enter the body. Pumpkin seeds contain an abundant amount of magnesium, zinc and iron. These minerals help support a healthy ovulation in this phase. Flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are both rich in omega 3 fatty acids which decreases inflammation, promotes blood flow to the uterus, and supports the opening of follicles to release the egg for ovulation.
During Phase 2, the Luteal Phase, we aim to support rising progesterone levels and balance dropping estrogen levels by consuming 1 tbsp. sesame seeds and 1 tbsp. sunflower seeds daily. Both seeds are rich in omega 6 fatty acids which help boost progesterone. They are also dense in zinc, selenium and calcium which are minerals that support progesterone function and mood.
Seed Cycling After The Pill
The most common use of seed cycling is when regulating hormones after discontinuing the use of birth control. That is because, after stopping the use of a birth control pill, your hormones may be unbalanced for a period of time. Overall, the function(s) of the pill is to suppress the signals from your brain to your ovaries and alter the hormonal function of a natural cycling menstrual period. If you are someone who has experienced irregular/abnormal menses or premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, before and/or after starting the pill; seed cycling is an alternative way to decrease symptoms and improve your menstrual health. If you are using the birth control pill as an oral contraceptive, seed cycling is NOT a contraceptive method.
Seed Cycling & Fertility
Seed cycling promotes healthy ovulation, which is the phase in your cycle where a mature egg is released by the ovaries for potential fertilization. Low progesterone levels are common in infertility, PCOS, and estrogen dominance and may contribute to a short ovulatory window. Women who are planning to conceive and have been on the birth control pills can use seed cycling to help regulate progesterone & estrogen levels for optimal ovulation.
How to shop for & store seeds :
It's best to purchase raw, organic, unshelled & ground seeds. We recommend ground seeds because it is easier on the digestive system to process and digest the seeds when grounded. Especially if you experience bloating or indigestion.
Prepare your seeds ahead of time! It's easiest to purchase ground seeds. If ground seeds are unavailable, you can use whole seeds and add them to a seed grinder or food processor. Next, pre-mix equal parts of pumpkin & flaxseeds in one jar, and sunflower & sesame seeds in another jar. Each day, add 2 tbsp. of the seed mix to your foods according to the cycle phase you are in.
Beeya Wellness Seed Cycling pre-mix phase bags makes it easy! They sell prepared seed mix bags labeled phase 1 and phase 2 for seed cycling.
Store your seeds air-tight and in the refrigerator.
Though we mention using seed cycling after stopping birth control or for fertility, seed cycling is great for any woman in any stage of life, even post menopause! Seed cycling is just one way women can start on their hormone balancing & optimizing journey. There are several integrative modalities to assist the body in balancing hormones, regulating PMS and irregular periods or promoting fertility. If you are someone dealing with PCOS, irregular periods, endometriosis or infertility working on diet, lifestyle and addressing root causes with a functional Registered Dietitian can be game changing for your hormone health.
Work with Kellie Mendes, Functional Registered Dietitian. Kellie specializes in women's health, with an emphasis on gut health, fertility and hormone balancing.