Adapt This Low-Cost Choice to Help Regulate Your Period
Do you suffer from irregular menstrual cycles, PMS, or mood swings? What about hot flashes, hair loss, or weight gain? If so, you’re not alone! Many women are searching for natural ways to balance hormones.
Seed cycling (also called seed rotation) is a natural remedy for hormonal imbalance which you can easily adapt. Read on to learn more about hormone balance, seed cycling and how you can customize this approach to fit your specific situation.
What Do Balanced Hormones Look Like?
We all want our hormones to be healthy. Unfortunately, today hormone imbalances are so common that it’s easy to ignore the symptoms with thoughts like, “Everyone else experiences this, too!”
Our cycles (or hormonal rhythms, for menopausal women) should not be accompanied by symptoms of hormonal imbalance. These are not normal; they are warning signals that your hormones are not right and your body is trying to get your attention.
Symptoms to watch for include:
Missing cycles (if you’re of childbearing age)
Short, long or irregular cycles (if you’re of childbearing age)
How to NOT Balance Your Hormones
Unfortunately, today’s world makes it hard to be healthy, and many women struggle to obtain hormone balance. Why?
Here are a few of the common reasons why hormones may be out-of-balance.
We are constantly being exposed to toxins. Endocrine disruptors like phthalates, parabens, and fragrances fill our toothpastes, deodorants, shampoos, and makeup. Toxins like heavy metals, arsenic, and pesticides lurk in our drinking water. Plastics fill our food and our houses. Air fresheners and cleaners fill our air with debris. And these are just a few examples. No wonder our bodies are overloaded!
We are constantly stressed out. We get stuck in traffic. We get sick and long to feel better. We worry and fret over our busy lives. We work long hours. We never stop to rest. Stress takes its toll, depleting our hormones and running down our reserves.
We often eat foods that don’t support our bodies. Some foods, like gluten, dairy or other, can excite an inflammatory response in some people. Non-organic foods are often sprayed with pesticides, which stay on the food and enter our bodies when we eat them.
Obviously, we can work to avoid some of these factors, but a quick glance will tell you that avoiding them all is impossible!
So what can we do to help balance our poor, stressed-out hormones?
Many women, desperate for solutions, turn to options like hormonal birth control or symptoms-based hormone replacement therapy. Unfortunately, these can be expensive, and do not treat the underlying cause. They may not even resolve the symptoms these women are facing, and they are well-known for causing additional unwanted side effects. (3, 4, 5)
There must be a better way to encourage hormone balance!
What Is Seed Cycling and How Does It Work?
Simply stated, seed cycling is alternating the consumption of certain raw seeds every 2 weeks. It's very safe and gentle, but always ask your doctor first if you are on medications or in poor health.
While there is not a large amount of scientific studies on the subject, seed cycling has successfully helped many women. The basic theory is that certain seeds support the production and proper elimination of different hormones.
Progesterone should rise during the second half of your cycle. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and oils such as borage oil or evening primrose oil can boost and support progesterone.
Basic Instructions for Seed Cycling
For best results, buy quality ingredients and prepare them appropriately. Use raw nuts and seeds and store them in the fridge or freezer. You’ll also need to grind the seeds fresh daily, but if you keep a little grinder on your counter, you can quickly scoop in your seeds and grind.
Cycle Day 1-14: Follicular phase, also known as Phase 1
1 T organic, raw, fresh-ground flax seed
1 T organic, raw, fresh-ground pumpkin seed
And/or 1 T high-quality fish oil
Cycle Day 15-28 Luteal Phase, also known as Phase 2
1 T organic, raw, fresh-ground sesame seed
1 T organic, raw, fresh-ground sunflower seed
And/or 500 mg borage oil
A note on dosage: You will see slightly different recommendations in different places. You can do 1 rounded tablespoon of each, 2 tablespoons of just one type, or up to 4 tablespoons total (measurement is made before grinding) in a day. I think what is most important is to get at least 2 tablespoons a day. If you happen to get in extra servings, no problem!
How to Adapt Seed Cycling for Your Situation
My cycle is somewhat regular. How do I support it?
If you are currently cycling, you start phase 1 of the seeds on the first full day of your period. You will then switch to phase 2 on day 15 of your cycle.
What do I do if my cycle is too short or too long?
You can start the phase 1 seeds on the first day of your period or on the new moon. On day 15, go ahead and shift to the phase 2 seeds, even if you haven’t ovulated yet. Once you hit day 28/29 (or the next new moon), switch back to phase 1 seeds. Eventually, your cycle should start to line up with the new rhythm you’re setting.
I have an irregular menstrual cycle and/or I have PCOS. What should I do?
These seeds can be a great supplement for PCOS patients to balance hormones for irregular periods. You may choose to start on the first day of one of your cycles or on the new moon. On day 15, go ahead and shift to the phase 2 seeds, even if you haven’t ovulated yet. Once you hit day 28/29 (or the next new moon), switch back to phase 1 seeds. Eventually, your cycle should start to line up with the new rhythm you’re setting.
I don’t have a cycle. Can I still benefit from seed cycling?
Yes! This goes for menopause, breastfeeding women after 6-9 months, or women with amenorrhea (no cycle in 3 or more months.) Start phase 1 of the seeds on the new moon. You will switch to phase 2 of the seeds on the full moon. A special note for menopause: Though you will not be supporting a cycle anymore, these seeds and oils can be a great part of the best diet for menopause, to clear and balance your hormones.
I’m following the lunar calendar. When do I switch the seeds exactly?
Seed cycling is recommend on a 28 day cycle. However the lunar cycle is 29.5 days. I would say if you are going with the lunar calendar, stick to the lunar schedule.
I’m trying to get pregnant. Can I try seed cycling?
Seed cycling is one of the natural ways to boost fertility. It can help regulate your cycle and improve fertility so you can get pregnant. Be careful, though, to stop seed cycling once you’re pregnant. This is a tip from the website of Dr. Amy Neuzil, ND, "If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important to continue the luteal-phase seeds (sesame/sunflower) until you actually have a period, just in case you are pregnant that month. This gives the egg the best chance at implantation."
I am currently pregnant. Is seed cycling a good choice for me right now?
This protocol is NOT intended for pregnant women.
What if my diet doesn't allow me to eat some of these seeds?
If you are avoiding, for example, flax seeds and sunflower seeds, then just use the pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds in rotation. If you are avoiding all nuts and seeds, then you can rotate a fish oil supplement in your phase 1 (2 caps a day), and then use borage oil in phase 2 (2 caps a day). You can purchase these at our supplement shop under the names GLA 240 and OmegAvail Ultra.
Do I need to soak the seeds?
No, you don't need to soak them, but you are welcome to do so to increase the digestibility.
I’m looking for home remedies for menstrual cramps. Can seed cycling help?
Yes, seed cycling can help improve your hormone balance, which leads to fewer cramps. For more ideas, check out my blog post here.
Will seed cycling boost levels of bad estrogen?
No. Seed cycling invites your body to make and properly clear the good estrogens. This will actually lessen the effect of any “bad estrogen” you may be dealing with.
I have high androgens. Will seed cycling help that?
Yes, the increased fiber should help, as well is the increased support for the whole hormonal system.
Can I start seed cycling at any time in my cycle?
Yes! Just make sure you start with taking the seeds for the phase that you are currently on.
How long can I keep this up? Do I need to take a break?
The seed cycling is pretty safe. You shouldn’t need to take a break, but if you want to take a month off a couple times a year that is ok too. Or you can just continue until your cycle regulates and then see what happenst.
Extra Resources and Recipes
Join Us to Learn More
Do you have experience with seed cycling? Or do you have more questions?
You’re invited to join and share with our Facebook group, the Hormone Detox Tribe! This is a community of amazing women who love learning, want happy hormones, and want to avoid toxins to protect their health and to love up on the environment.
Click here to join us. We can’t wait to meet you!
Notice: This information serves as education only and does not replace your relationship with your doctor.
Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.