A beginner's guide to seed cycling
I first started seed cycling at the beginning of 2018, completely by accident.
I’d been adding pumpkin and flax seeds to my morning porridge bowls nearly every day for a month or so. At the same time I’d been tracking my cycle and started to notice that my period was becoming more and more regular (something that was unheard of for me!).
I didn’t make the connection at first, but then articles, podcasts and Instagram posts about this thing called ‘Seed Cycling’ kept popping up and finally caught my attention.
My periods have never been regular so the idea that these seeds could support and regulate my cycle got me excited and I needed to know more.
I did some research and learned that a certain mix of seeds at certain times throughout your cycle can help the regulation of hormones, which can result in a more consistent menstrual cycle.
Getting my cycle in check has been one of my biggest goals since starting my gut healing journey. I’d already started to use a variety of food to support my cycle in the form of cycle syncing, so seed cycling was another great natural protocol to add to my toolkit.
So in March I fully committed to seed cycling and last month, for the first time in my life, I experienced a 29 day cycle. There was a lot of excitement and celebration in my house I tell you! And I’m on track for the same again this month.
Why seed cycle?
If you have irregular, long or absent periods, seed cycling is a natural and inexpensive way to support your body’s hormones and promote a regular cycle.
Having an intake of certain vitamins and nutrients at key points of your cycle supports your body at the right times, so that your it knows when to ovulate and menstruate.
Seed cycling is also supportive for those with an unpredictable period, as the nutrients can still help with common symptoms like PMS, cramps, mood swings, insomnia or brain fog which are often worse with irregular cycles.
And if you’re trying to get pregnant, having a more regular cycle will help you know when your fertile window is, making it easier for you to plan for conception.
How does seed cycling work?
The different seeds are high in various nutrients like omega essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and lignins, which all support hormone health.
During the first half of your cycle, you ingest flax seeds that contain lignins. Lignins manage excess estrogen (one of the main causes of long or irregular cycles) by binding any surplus estrogen and effectively eliminating it from the body. Pumpkin seeds are taken alongside flax to balance the effects of estrogen and to help prep the body for the second half of its cycle.
Then after ovulation, you take sunflower seeds that are high in selenium, which is vital at clearing the liver and prevent clogging of excess hormones, and sesame seeds which are great estrogen blockers.
Can I seed cycle if I'm on the contraceptive pill?
Because the contraceptive pill stops ovulation, the hormones that the body produces to ovulate, and later menstruate, do not appear in women who take the contraceptive pill, so seed cycling will not work in the same way.
However, the nutrients from seeds are still beneficial for general health so following this protocol is still a great way to support your diet with extra nutrients.
How to seed cycle
What you’ll need:
Organic flax seeds
Organic pumpkin seeds
Organic sunflower seeds
Organic sesame seeds
When to take your seeds:
Whatever the length of your cycle, seed cycling requires you to take pumpkin and flax from the first day of your period until ovulation. Then when ovulation has finished you start to take sunflower and sesame.
Cycle lengths will look different for everyone so it’s important that you get to know your OWN CYCLE with cycle and/or ovulation tracking.
For this example, let’s use a 28-day cycle for reference.
Day 1 - Day 14
First day of your period to the day you ovulate
You take per day:
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
Day 15 - Day 28
After ovulation to the last day of your period
You take per day:
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
How to prepare your seeds
Most protocols say to grind your seeds to allow for better nutrient absorption, however, I saw results by consuming the pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds in their whole form.
If you do choose to grind your seeds, be sure to only grind them a day or so in advance so the nutrients stay preserved. You can use a coffee grinder or blender to do this.
How to incorporate seeds into your diet
hummus made with seeds
sprinkled on pasta, salads, soups
homemade salad sauces
a handful raw
Don’t cook your seeds as that will lessen the nutrients. They should always be consumed in their raw form.
when to take your seeds
In a regular cycle, ovulation normally occurs around 14 days before our period arrives. Meaning you can simply count back 14 days from the first day of your bleed and that is likely to be when you ovulated.
For those who do not have a regular cycle, there are other methods to tell when you’re ovulating such as basal temperature checking or cervical mucus monitoring. For example, when you’ve experienced egg white or watery mucus and then it becomes dry that’s usually a sign that ovulation has happened.
Note that this is only relevant to women who are not on the contraceptive pill.
How do I seed cycle if I don’t get my period?
There are still ways to seed cycle even if you have an absent period.
In ancient times, it was believed that our cycles would match the phases of the moon. Typically women would menstruate on the new moon and ovulate on the full moon.
This was due to the type of light emitted from the moon, which would signal our body to release certain hormones at certain times. However, street lights, car lights, light pollution etc. now affect the natural moonlight, so our bodies have fallen out of rhythm.
This is why some people strongly suggest that syncing your seed intake with the moon phases can help get a steady period again. To do this use a moon phase calendar which shows the lunar cycles. Start taking your flax and pumpkin on the day of the new moon and switch to sunflower and sesame on the day of the full moon.
Using the calendar month can also be effective. In the first half of the month take flax and pumpkin, and in the second for sunflower and sesame.
Both are great options and seed cycling is a great exercise to become in tune with your body again, so follow your instincts and do whatever resonates with you.
How long does it take to work?
Obviously, this is difficult for me to say, but for me, I noticed a difference within 2 cycles (approximately 3 months), and it took a further 2-3 months for me to get a consistently regular period.
If you’ve been eating a whole food diet for a while chances are you already have a good level of nutrients so you may see changes quicker than someone who is just starting out with a healthier lifestyle.
Seed cycling definitely won’t work in isolation so it’s still important to support your cycle through nourishing foods, supportive exercise and stress management. As long as you’re doing these things I think seed cycling could definitely work for you.
Some final thoughts...
Not only has this practice helped me get a regular period, it’s also given me so much awareness of my cycle and how my body works during different times of the month.
Since experiencing irregular periods since I was 13 and receiving little support or guidance from doctors, it’s also given me hope that my dedication to a healthier lifestyle really is working, and that it’s possible to treat the route cause of a problem NATURALLY.
If you’ve tried seed cycling please let me know if it’s worked for you! I’d love to hear all about it x
Heavy Flow podcast: How to use seed cycling to balance hormones http://amandalaird.ca/question-period-seed-cycling/
A beginners guide to seed cycling by Laura’s Natural Life http://www.laurasnaturallife.com/latest/a-beginners-guide-to-seed-cycling-how-to-balance-hormones-naturally
Seed Cycling snack balls by Naturopathic by Nature http://naturopathicbynature.com/seed-cycling-snack-balls-gluten-free-dairy-free-vegan/