What Is Seed Cycling?

If you are interested in natural health remedies, you may have heard of seed cycling. Seed cycling is a dietary practice that involves eating four types of seeds throughout the month.

Proponents of seed cycling believe certain seeds can be used to balance female hormones involved in the menstrual cycle. This health trend claims to balance hormones, boost fertility, and ease symptoms of menopause

This article will provide an overview of seed cycling, including its health claims and how to try it.

Heap of Flax seeds in a spoon and glass bottle of linseed oil

mescioglu / Getty Images

What Is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling is a health trend that claims to use seeds to balance female hormones in the body. It involves rotating certain seeds in the diet throughout the month, according to the menstrual cycle. The seeds contain essential fatty acids, which are necessary for hormone production in the body. 

How Does Seed Cycling Work?

Seed cycling claims to work by balancing hormones throughout the month. During the first half of your menstrual cycle, days one to 14, proponents of seed cycling recommend consuming seeds that support estrogen in the body. These include flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.

During the second half of your cycle, days 15 to 30, it’s recommended to consume seeds that support progesterone in the body. These include sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. 

Hormones in a Normal Cycle

During the month, a thick lining that contains nutrients builds up on the inner wall of the uterus in preparation for pregnancy. When conception does not occur, estrogen and progesterone hormone levels decrease. The thick uterine lining sheds when these hormone levels fall, resulting in your period. 

The first half of the menstrual cycle is called the follicular phase. It begins with menses (period) when the thick uterine lining sheds. 

The second half of the menstrual cycle is known as the luteal phase. This phase begins about 14 days into the cycle with ovulation. During ovulation, a single mature egg is released from the follicle. Once the egg is released, the follicle then releases progesterone, which helps prepare the uterus for pregnancy. 

Estrogen levels remain high during this phase. When the released egg does not become fertilized, progesterone and estrogen levels start to fall. This starts the cycle over again with menses. 

Causes of Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalances can occur for several reasons. Possible causes of hormonal imbalances in the body include:

  • Temporary causes: Medications, steroids, and stress
  • Life changes: Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause
  • Tumors: Tumors and adenomas (noncancerous tumors) growing on the hypothalamus or pituitary gland in the brain
  • Trauma: Damage to the endocrine gland (caused by an injury, surgery, or illness)
  • Immune system issues: Damage to the glands from autoimmune conditions

How Seeds Affect Hormones

Certain seeds may affect hormones because they contain phytoestrogens, plant compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. They can be found in flaxseeds, sesame seeds, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. It’s believed that consuming phytoestrogens during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycles may increase or decrease estrogen levels as needed and balance hormones. 

Does Seed Cycling Result in Balanced Hormones?

There is no scientific evidence to prove that seed cycling results in balanced hormones. However, one review found that consuming phytoestrogens in the diet lowered the frequency and severity of hot flashes in individuals going through menopause. Consuming phytoestrogens may also improve bone mineral density in the spine. It’s important to note that this review also found that phytoestrogens have been linked to an increased risk for infertility. 

What Are Lignans?

Lignans are a type of phytoestrogen found in flaxseeds and sesame seeds. They are believed to be able to balance hormone levels because of their effect on estrogen.

Seed Cycling and Menopause Symptoms

Menopause symptoms are caused by changing hormone levels in the body. After menopause, the ovaries make much less estrogen than they used to. Low estrogen levels can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke (blood to the brain is blocked or reduced), and osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones). 

Low estrogen levels can also contribute to bothersome menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Menopause hormone therapy can be used to improve symptoms but may increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, and certain cancers. 

The fats and lignans in flax and other seeds may help ease menopause symptoms. Other ways to ease menopause symptoms include:

  • Exercising for 30 minutes per day
  • Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Taking supplements including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6

Seed Cycling for Fertility

Each month, the body makes different amounts of hormones to prepare for pregnancy. These changing hormone levels are necessary for conception. Proponents of seed cycling believe that using seeds to balance levels of estrogen and progesterone throughout the month boosts fertility. 

The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period and usually lasts about 24 to 38 days. On average, women get periods for about 40 years of their life. The average age of menopause in the United States is 52.

Other Nutritional Benefits of Seeds

Seeds have several potential health benefits. Seeds are rich in healthy nutrients like protein and minerals. Incorporating seeds into your diet has been associated with a lower risk of weight gain, heart disease, and high cholesterol. 

Seeds are an important component of the Mediterranean diet, a heart-healthy eating plan that includes healthy fats such as olive oil, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans, nuts, and seeds, with fewer servings per week of poultry and fish, and limited red meat. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. 

How to Do Seed Cycling 

Seed cycling has not been proven effective at balancing hormones. However, it does not appear to be harmful to your health. If you are interested in giving seed cycling a try, start by tracking your menstrual cycle. You could do this on your own or download a free chart from the internet. From there, make a plan for your diet.

  • Follicular phase: The first day of your period is the first day of your menstrual cycle. Starting on day one and continuing through day 14, incorporate estrogen-supporting seeds into your diet. Choose from flaxseeds, chia seeds, or pumpkin seeds. These seeds can be blended into a smoothie, sprinkled over a salad, or enjoyed on their own. 
  • Luteal phase: During the second half of your cycle, days 15 through 30, switch to progesterone-supporting seeds. Choose from sesame seeds or sunflower seeds. You could also use seed products such as tahini sauce or sunflower butter. 
  • Irregular or absent periods: If your menstrual cycle is irregular or you are experiencing menopause, you can use the moon cycles to guide your seed cycling. On the night of the full moon, start incorporating estrogen-supporting seeds. On the night of the new moon, switch to progesterone-supporting seeds. 

Who Should Avoid Seed Cycling?

If you have a compromised immune system, the small number of natural toxins in seeds may harm your body. People with diverticulitis are usually advised to avoid seeds because they can become lodged in the small pouches in the gut lining. Always talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new health regimen. 

Summary

in seed cycling, you eat certain seeds throughout the month to affect the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body. It is a health trend that claims to balance hormone levels, boost fertility, and ease menopause symptoms. There is no evidence to support these claims. However, seed cycling does not appear to be dangerous. Talk with your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen like seed cycling. 

A Word From Verywell 

Seed cycling may sound like a promising remedy if you have been experiencing hormonal imbalances, infertility, or menopausal symptoms. It’s important to remember, though, that no evidence supports its health claims. Still, seeds have several possible health benefits, so talk with your healthcare provider if you’d like to give seed cycling a try.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does seed cycling really work?

    At this time, there is not enough evidence to conclude that seed cycling works for boosting fertility or relieving menopausal symptoms. 

  • How long should you do seed cycling?

    Because there is no scientific evidence to support seed cycling, there is no recommended regimen to follow. If you’re interested in trying seed cycling, talk with your healthcare provider about how long to try it.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Rietjens IMCM, Louisse J, Beekmann K. The potential health effects of dietary phytoestrogens. Br J Pharmacol. 2017;174(11):1263-1280. doi:10.1111/bph.13622

  3. Rietjens IMCM, Louisse J, Beekmann K. The potential health effects of dietary phytoestrogensBr J Pharmacol. 2017;174(11):1263-1280. doi:10.1111/bph.13622

  4. Office on Women’s Health. Menopause and your health.

  5. Mount Sinai. Flaxseed.

  6. Office on Women’s Health. Your menstrual cycle.

  7. Duke Health. Are seeds really healthy or just trendy?