Seed Cycling for Female Hormones
Seed cycling is a traditional therapy used to support female hormones. I like this therapy for several reasons. First, it connects a woman to her cycle, providing a construct way to recognize and support her body’s natural rhythms. Second, as a whole food therapy, it’s a source of fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Lastly, studies exist to justify the daily use of seeds in supporting female hormones.
Seed cycling in a nutshell
Days 1-14, follicular phase through ovulation: consume 1-2 tablespoons of raw, fresh ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Days 15-28, ovulation through luteal phase: consume 1-2 tablespoons of raw, fresh ground sunflower and sesame seeds plus 1 grams of evening primrose oil.
For non-cycling women, you can go by the moon. Days 1-14 are the new moon to full moon and days 14-28 are full moon to new moon. As we change seed type, we are entering a new part of our cycle.
Female Cycle Overview
Menstruation is day 1, and when progesterone and estrogen are their lowest of the month. Estrogen levels rise after menstruation and steadily increase until day 14, or ovulation. Follicles are fluid filled sacs that live in our ovaries and hold an egg. Follicular phase estrogen stimulates follicular growth, until it bursts releasing an egg, AKA ovulation. Now it’s day 14, and progesterone’s time to shine. Progesterone (and estrogen) stimulate the uterine lining to thicken to support fertilization. If fertilization does not occur, these hormones drop off and menses occurs. Flax and pumpkin seeds support follicular phase hormones and sunflower and sesame seeds the luteal phase.
The science behind seeds
Flaxseeds win the prize when it comes to research supporting lignan rich seeds. Lignans are a chemical found in flax and other seeds that affect estrogen metabolism (1). Pumpkin seeds and sunflower provide a source of iron and zinc, both of which are essential to hormonal and women’s health (2-4). Sesame seeds and their oil have been studied to lower inflammation, protect the heart, and support cholesterol metabolism (5,6).
The use of Evening Primrose Oil
EPO is used to support the luteal phase of the cycle through its essential fatty acid content. It is anti inflammatory and has been shown to alleviate PMS, breast pain, and hot flashes (7).
Seed cycling is an accessible, low cost, high impact, whole food, therapy. Whether you are cycling or not, this offers an opportunity to gently tune-in to your body and its natural rhythms. I encourage you all to integrate seeds into your daily regimen.