Seed Cycling Health Benefits: What You Need To Know

Irregular periods are the bane of women’s lives. Lately, a new trend helps regulate the menstrual cycle and PMS. Called seed-cycling, it is the introduction of seeds in the diet at specific junctions of the menstrual cycle in order to balance certain absent hormones, possibly curing menopausal and PMS symptoms. 

To make sense of seed cycling, it is first important to understand the four phases of the menstrual cycle. On average, it takes 28 days for the menstrual cycle to take place, while there are many women who experience the menstrual cycle for shorter or longer periods. 

Knowing the four phases of menstrual cycle

The follicular phase is when there is an increase in the production of estrogen, when the egg matures and prepares for ovulation. It starts on day 1 of the first phase and lasts for about 14 days ( on a 28 days cycle). On day 14, ovulation ends the follicular phase. Consuming raw pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds during this period helps boost estrogen if not present in balanced levels and there is a deficiency of estrogen. Rich in fatty acids, zinc and selenium, these seeds are needed to balance the hormones. 

On day 15, the luteal phase begins, where the follicle transforms into a corpus luteum, a structure that makes progesterone. It helps develop the endometrium that forms the lining of the uterus when a woman becomes pregnant. The lining is shed on day 28. During this phase, consuming sesame seeds or sunflower seeds can help balance the progesterone hormone if enough is not produced due to various pre-existing conditions. It also aids in helping other health conditions such as bloating, PCOS and insomnia. 

There is some limited research that attest to these benefits, however, anecdotes support them. But the question remains. 

Flaxseeds In the first phase of the menstrual cycle, taking flax-seeds helps in the balance of estrogen hormones. Flickr/AlishaV

Understanding how seed cycling works

Hypothyroidism, PCOS and menopause are some of the reasons there could be a hormone imbalance. Even over-exercising and being underweight can lead to an hormonal imbalance. Especially during menopause, estrogen and progesterone hormone levels come down. This increases the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, hot flashes and weight gain. Seed cycling is one solution to balance the hormones.  

Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens, certain plant compounds that can balance estrogen during the follicular phase. However, during the luteal phase, progesterone levels can be tipped by consuming sesame seeds that contain lignans, a polyphenol compound. Vitamin E is present in sunflower seeds that also help increase progesterone levels. 

Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran in 2015 held a study of 90 patients who suffered from breast pain that is linked to an increase in estrogen and decrease in progesterone levels,  It was a quasi-randomized clinical trial with three groups. One group took 30 grams of flaxseed powder and the other took two 1,000 mg capsules of evening primrose while the third group took 1 of capsule of 400 IU Vitamin E. The supplements were taken over two period cycles on a daily basis. 

 “The mean duration of breast pain in flaxseed group within 2 months of intervention decreased significantly but despite reducing the duration of pain in evening primrose oil group and Vitamin E, this reduction was not significant,” the study’s results read.