Seed Cycling: Using Essential Fatty Acids and Minerals for Hormone Balancing

  • The four phases of the menstrual cycle are menstruation, follicular, ovulation, and luteal. It’s important to recognize that each one of these phases may need individualized support (mainly through diet and exercise), especially when hormone imbalances are a concern.
  • Seed cycling is a powerful hormone-balancing tool that uses the fatty acids, minerals, lignans, antioxidants, and vitamins in different seeds to create balance and rhythm in the body while restoring depleted nutrients.
  • While seed cycling shouldn’t replace any prescribed hormone treatment you’re already doing, it can be a great addition to your daily routine and could make a long-term difference, especially if you’re deficient in fatty acids.

As a woman, your hormone levels are balanced and managed by these four essential phases:

  • Menstruation gets the most attention, as progesterone levels drop to shed the uterine lining in the absence of pregnancy, causing bleeding. 
  • Then we have the follicular phase, where the follicles in the ovaries begin to grow. This phase is characterized by the rise of estrogen and progesterone.
  • Ovulation occurs when the egg is ready and released into the body. Estrogen and testosterone are at their highest levels during this phase.
  • Finally, the luteal phase is characterized by a rise in progesterone and a drop in testosterone and estrogen. 

          Especially if you struggle with hormone-related symptoms, understanding your hormonal phases is key to managing hormone fluctuations and getting your life back on track. After all, there are a lot of changes to your hormone levels throughout the month, and learning how to support your body in each phase isn’t something most of us are taught growing up.

          Luckily, a little knowledge of your cycle and a few essential fatty acids can take you a long way. There are many all-natural methods you can try to take charge of your hormonal health, especially as it relates to the four phases. One of these methods is called seed cycling. 

          Table of Contents:

          What is Seed Cycling?

          Seed cycling uses ground sunflower, sesame, flax, and pumpkin seeds to optimize the hormones released in each cycle phase. The goal is to create balance and rhythm in the body while providing essential nutrients to help you build and release these hormones.

          Seed cycling is a newer holistic therapy (introduced around 2012), but the science behind it is ancient. The idea of seed cycling is to harness naturally occurring lignans (a type of polyphenol) and fatty acids found in seeds to improve menstrual and hormonal symptoms. Though studies are still being done on the overall benefits of seed cycling, many women swear by it!

          Unlike complicated diets or lifestyle changes, seed cycling is pretty simple. You only need one afternoon to prepare the seeds for an entire month’s cycle. While there are four hormonal phases, seed cycling targets the longest two phases in particular: Follicular and luteal. The goal is to take 1-2 tablespoons of the recommended seeds per day during each phase. That’s it!

          Seeds for the Follicular Phase

          A dose of flax and pumpkin seeds is recommended to support your follicular phase, when estrogen levels naturally rise. These seeds should be ground up together (half pumpkin seeds and half flax seeds), then saved in the fridge or freezer for your daily dose. Take 1-2 tablespoons of the ground mixture every day mixed in your smoothie, salad, yogurt bowl, or applesauce.

          Flax seed is high in vitamin B, magnesium, fatty acids, and lignans. Since they are also high in fiber, they can also keep stool moving out, pushing out unwanted toxins and remaining hormones from the previous phase in your cycle.

          Pumpkin seeds are high in dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. They are also high in minerals like zinc, iron, and magnesium which are much needed during any hormonal phase. 

          While grinding up flax and pumpkin seeds together is the easiest way to get your seed cycling dose, it’s not the only way. You can also sprinkle these seeds whole on salads, add them to baked oatmeal, homemade granola bars, and protein balls.

          Seeds for the Luteal Phase

          The seeds recommended for the luteal phase are sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. The goal of these seeds is to help balance progesterone while supporting the detox pathways for optimal estrogen release.

          Sesame seeds contain vitamin B, antioxidants, and fiber for a well-balanced approach to hormonal health. Like pumpkin seeds, they also pack a rich dose of minerals — much needed for the hormonal phases, especially as we are getting fewer minerals in our diet due to farming practices and climate change. 

          Sunflower seeds contain fatty acids vitamin E, calcium, amino acids, magnesium, and more. They pack a heavy punch as the final dose of seeds required for seed cycling. They are also high in selenium, which supports the liver as it detoxes unneeded estrogen from the follicular phase. 

          Adding these seeds to your diet doesn’t have to be complicated and won’t look much different from the follicular phase. Incorporate them in smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or even a healthy batch of brownies (shh we won’t tell).

          Seed Creams

          Another creative way to make seed cycling a part of your daily routine is to make what we call seed cream. Determine your dose of seeds for up to a week and soak them in water with several tablespoons of BodyBio E-Lyte for 48 hours. (You could omit the E-Lyte if you wanted, but we are looking to add extra minerals.) Then blend to create a “seed cream,” adding water as needed. This is easy to freeze and store in ice cube trays and then add to smoothies, seed puddings, and other meals. 

          Essential Fatty Acids to Boost Hormone Health

          What’s one thing all these seeds have in common? Essential fatty acids. 

          From our decades of research on healthy fats, we know that essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) are a must-have for regulating hormones. Seed cycling relies on the strategic timing of different fatty acids during different parts of your cycle. It’s part of the reason seed cycling works!

          Not only do fatty acids help to regulate your hormones, but they’re also beneficial for brain health, cellular health, thyroid and adrenal function, liver wellness, blood pressure, and inflammation regulation. 

          Beware Toxic Seed Oils

          While we’re on the topic of seeds and seed oils, it’s important to mention that not all seed oils are created equal. Some include toxic fillers, heavy processing using high heat, or an imbalance of omega 3’s and omega 6’s, which defeats the purpose of seed cycling.

          High-quality and minimally processed oils retain their nutritional benefits, while heavily processed oils become toxic to our cells. It’s essential to pay attention to processing methods and quality when researching seeds and seed oils in supplements and personal care products. For seed cycling, we highly recommend purchasing organic, whole seeds and grinding them yourself. This will get you the highest nutritional value possible.

          If you’re looking for a high quality seed oil for general omega-6 and omega-3 intake, look no further than BodyBio Balance Oil.

          Is Seed Cycling a Good Idea for Hormone Health?

          While seed cycling itself is still undergoing studies, there are so many great medical resources that explain the benefits of essential fatty acids, lignans, minerals, and high-quality seeds and seed oils for hormonal health. 

          If you struggle with PCOS, thyroid issues, amenorrhoea, or endometriosis, seed cycling can be a great addition to your care plan. It’s easy to start, simple to maintain, and many women swear it makes a difference. 

          If seed cycling isn’t for you or if you want to supplement it with a dose of powerful (and well-balanced) essential fatty acids, we created our Balance Oil to be just that. It’s perfectly formulated to provide a rich dose of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs right to your cells. 

          Restore Hormonal Health with Essential Fatty Acids

          References

          Phipps, W. R., Martini, M. C., Lampe, J. W., Slavin, J. L., & Kurzer, M. S. (1993). Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 77(5), 1215–1219. https://doi.org/10.1210/jcem.77.5.8077314

          Adlercreutz, H., Höckerstedt, K., Bannwart, C., Bloigu, S., Hämäläinen, E., Fotsis, T., & Ollus, A. (1987). Effect of dietary components, including lignans and phytoestrogens, on enterohepatic circulation and liver metabolism of estrogens and on sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Journal of steroid biochemistry, 27(4-6), 1135–1144. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-4731(87)90200-7

          Ouladsahebmadarek, E., Khaki, A., Khanahmadi, S., Ahmadi Ashtiani, H., Paknejad, P., & Ayubi, M. R. (2014). Hormonal and metabolic effects of polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega-3) on polycystic ovary syndrome induced rats under diet. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences, 17(2), 123–127.

          Goyal, A., Sharma, V., Upadhyay, N., Gill, S., & Sihag, M. (2014). Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food. Journal of food science and technology, 51(9), 1633–1653. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-013-1247-9

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