Seed cycling has recently gained popularity as a natural way to balance hormones. Naturopathic medicine practitioners purport that seed cycling helps facilitate the production and metabolism of estrogen and progesterone to help regulate menses, treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and infertility, reduce acne, and ease hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue and mood swings associated with menopause.
How it works:
This simple process consists of eating 1 Tbsp per day each of flaxseed and pumpkin seed for days 1-14, the estrogen-producing, follicular phase of the menstrual cycle and then 1 Tbsp per day each of sunflower and sesame seeds for days 15-28, the progesterone-producing, luteal phase. (For women who no longer menstruate, it is recommended you follow the lunar cycle.)
While the body is supposed to produce estrogen and progesterone in a given cycle, some women don’t produce enough of these hormones while others produce too much, the imbalance of which causes all of those uncomfortable symptoms listed above. Flax seeds contain lignans, a group of phytochemicals with some estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties. Lignans can bind to excess estrogen in the body allowing for more efficient elimination if too much is produced. A small, randomized study of 18 women who supplemented their diet with flax seed for four cycles showed higher progesterone/estradiol ratios during the luteal phase.1 Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E while pumpkin seeds contain zinc. Both help promote progesterone production in the luteal phase.
While studies to support the efficacy of seed cycling are limited at best, seeds are packed with vitamins and high in essential fatty acids, making this a low-risk process worth trying for women who suffer from hormonal imbalances, menopausal symptoms or hormone induced acne. It will likely take 3-4 cycles for you to start noticing a difference. If you decide to give it a try, email me. I’d love to hear your feedback!
1. Phipps WR, Martini MC, Lampe JW, Slavin JL, Kurzer MS. Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 1993; 77(5): 1215-1219. doi: 10.1210/jcem.77.5.8077314