Definition - What does Seed Cycling mean?
Seed cycling is seen by some a natural approach to assisting the balance of hormones within the body. It comes from a "food as medicine" philosophy and uses pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and flaxseeds to support the female body. Different seeds are used at different times during a woman's cycle with the intention to optimize hormone balance.
Some think it can be used to help treat women's health issues such as irregular periods, heavy bleeding, pre-menstrual tension, symptoms associated with menopause, and for infertility. It can also be used for health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, endometriosis, and ovarian cysts. Research does not specifically help support these claims.
FertilitySmarts explains Seed Cycling
A woman's menstrual cycle has two main phases. These are the follicular phase and the luteal phase. The follicular phase begins when menstruation starts, and the luteal phase begins at the time of ovulation. During seed cycling, specific seeds are eaten according to these two phases.
For pre and peri-menopausal women, the protocol around what seeds to consume is determined by the menstrual phase she is in. During the follicular phase (approximately days 1-14) flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are consumed. These seeds are high in phytoestrogens (specifically lignans), which are thought to help keep estrogen levels balanced, and in turn, assists the balance of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
During the luteal phase (approximately days 15-28), sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are consumed. The aim of consuming these types of seeds, which are high in omega 6, is to support healthy progesterone levels and in turn optimize reproductive health.
The science is somewhat limited when we look specifically at the practice of seed cycling. However, there is some limited research that links the nutritional properties of the seeds used for seed cycling, with women's hormone health. A small study has suggested that flaxseed ingestion can produce significant differences in progesterone/estradiol ratios, suggesting an impact on the female hormonal system. A study on sesame seeds in postmenopausal women has highlighted the potential to affect the sex hormones.