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Seed Cycling Chart: A Nutritional Approach to Support Hormone Health

happy hormones Feb 28, 2024

Are you looking for a natural and holistic approach to balancing your hormones? Look no further than seed cycling! This lesser-known practice has been gaining popularity among health enthusiasts for its potential benefits in supporting hormone health. In this article, I'll be diving into the fascinating world of seed cycling and the invaluable tool that accompanies it—the seed cycling chart.


What Is Seed Cycling? 

Seed cycling is based on the idea that certain seeds contain nutrients that can help regulate and balance the main hormones involved in the menstrual cycle - estrogen and progesterone.

By incorporating different seeds at specific times in your cycle, you may be able to promote hormonal balance and alleviate PMS symptoms, irregular periods, and other hormone-related issues.

In this comprehensive blog, I will provide you with a seed cycling chart that outlines which seeds to consume during the follicular and luteal phases of your cycle and why. We will also discuss the potential benefits, scientific evidence, and practical tips for incorporating seed cycling into your daily routine. So, if you're ready to take a natural approach to support your hormone health, let's dive into the world of seed cycling.


The Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle can be divided into 4 phases -menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. Throughout the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle, the key hormones - follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone - gradually shift to trigger the next phase of the cycle. 

The menstrual phase is a subphase of the overarching follicular phase and begins the first day of menstrual blood flow (AKA your period). As estrogen levels rise, menstrual bleeding will subside. The menstrual phase should last 3-7 days. Estrogen is the dominant hormone in the (overarching) follicular phase. 

The ovulatory phase is a subphase of the luteal phase and begins the first day of ovulation. Estrogen and progesterone levels will peak 5-7 days after ovulation and gradually decline if implantation of a fertilized egg does not occur. Progesterone should be the dominant hormone in the (overarching) luteal phase.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia


Women's menstrual cycle length tends to average 28 days, however, 26-35 days is considered normal. Fluctuations of 2-5 days in cycle lengths are also normal. Tracking your ovulation can help you learn more about your menstrual cycle, identify abnormalities, optimize your fertility or prevent pregnancy, and help you predict when your period will arrive.


The Science Behind Seed Cycling: How Seeds Support Hormone Balance

Seeding cycling utilizes flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds throughout the follicular and luteal phases to support the fluctuations in hormones. Let's look at the benefits of these seeds.


Flax Seeds

Not only are flax seeds rich in fiber, which is imperative for gut health, but they also contain lignans. Lignans are a group of phytochemicals shown to have weakly estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties.1

Lignans can bind to excess estrogen to help with its elimination in fecal material, which is another reason why fiber is so important for hormone balance. One study done in 2023 showed that lignans can increase sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in women with PCOS therefore reducing circulating estrogen and testosterone levels.

Another study revealed that women who utilized flax seeds had more ovulatory cycles and a better progesterone-to-estrone ratio in the luteal phase. 3


Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are rich in the mineral zinc.

While zinc plays many important roles in the body, it is also essential for the formation of a healthy egg for ovulation. 4 When a healthy egg is ovulated, the corpus luteum (the sac that is left behind), becomes a temporary gland that secretes progesterone and estrogen. 


Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in the mineral magnesium and vitamin E. 

Magnesium is responsible for over 300 reactions in the body and therefore a powerhouse mineral! Magnesium has also been shown to reduce period pain, PMS symptoms, and menstrual migraines.5 

Vitamin E has been shown to increase blood flow to the corpus luteum, therefore increasing progesterone production in the luteal phase.6

Vitamin E has also been shown to decrease breast pain associated with the menstrual cycle as well. 7


Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds also contain lignans and have been shown to increase sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which can decrease the amount of circulating estrogen and testosterone.8



Does Seed Cycling Work?

Until recently, little research has been done on seed cycling. Rather, seed cycling has been based on anecdotal evidence because of the seeds' nutritional properties. 

However, a new research article released in June 2023 showed a significant positive correlation between seed cycling and women with PCOS. In this study, women who included seed cycling showed improvements in weight management, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), prolactin levels, improved LH:FSH ratios, decreased testosterone, and a decreased number of ovarian cysts.9


Navigating the Seed Cycling Chart: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you have a foundational understanding of the menstrual cycle and the seeds used, you're ready to begin seed cycling!

During the follicular phase, menstruation until ovulation, you will incorporate 1-2 tablespoons of flax seeds and 1-2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds daily.

During the luteal phase, after ovulation until the day before you start your period, you will incorporate 1-2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds and 1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds daily. 

You can download a copy of this seed cycling chart to easily reference.


Tailoring Seed Cycling to Your Unique Hormonal Needs

Navigating Cycle Lengths

Menstrual cycle length can vary but the average is 28 days. Menstrual cycles that are 26-35 days are considered normal.

With a 28-day cycle, the assumption is that ovulation occurred around day 14, or 2 weeks before your period begins. However, that's not always the case. Follicular phase lengths can be more variable with the luteal phase ranging between 10-16 days. Knowing when ovulation occurred can help determine when to switch from the follicular phase seeds to the luteal phase seeds. 

Cycle lengths that are shorter than 26 days or longer than 35 days should be evaluated by a qualified practitioner. Ultimately it's important to recognize what is normal for you.


Missing Periods and Seed Cycling

There are a variety of reasons why your period can go missing but 2 common causes are hormonal birth control and menopause.

If hormonal birth control or menopause applies to you, you can still seed cycle! While you don't have the fluctuations in hormones with these 2 scenarios, the nutrients in the seeds can be beneficial to your overall health.

If you are taking birth control pills, you will utilize the follicular phase seed - flax seeds and pumpkin seeds - during the first 2 weeks of your pill pack. For the last 2 weeks of your pill pack, incorporate the luteal phase seeds - sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

For other hormonal birth control instances or menopause, you can sync your seed cycling with the phases of the moon.


Moon Phases and Seed Cycling

A complete lunar phase is 29.5 days in which the moon goes through the phases - new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent - before beginning the cycle over again. With menstrual cycles averaging 28 days, it's not uncommon for women to have their cycles synced with a lunar phase. 

If you no longer have a period, you can hone in the power of the lunar cycle for your seed cycling schedule.

  • New moon to full moon - follicular phase seeds (flax and pumpkin)
  • Full moon to new moon - luteal phase seeds (sunflower and sesame)


Incorporating Seed Cycling into Your Daily Routine: Practical Tips and Recipes

Incorporating seed cycling into your daily routine is an affordable dietary approach to supporting your hormone health.

Here's how to begin seed cycling:

  1. Pull out your calendar and identify the first day of your last period. This should be the first day that you had menstrual flow, not spotting.
  2. Count forward until today. 
  3. If that day falls between days 1-14, you can begin utilizing the follicular phase seeds. If that day falls between days 15-28, you can begin utilizing the luteal phase seeds.
  4. Swith the seeds as indicated on the seed cycling chart when you enter the new phase of the menstrual cycle.


Some of my favorite ways to include seeds in my diet are:

  • Added to smoothies
  • Sprinkled on salad and soups
  • In protein ball recipes like my Luteal Phase Seed Energy Balls
  • Sprinkled on avocado or peanut butter toast
  • Added to oatmeal
  • Make a pesto sauce
  • Use seed butters

Printing off the seed cycling chart to hang in your pantry can be helpful to easily reference what seeds to incorporate. 


An Additional Note About Flax Seeds

To reap the full benefit of flax seeds, it's best to freshly grind the flax seeds. You can do this in an old coffee grinder or spice grinder. You can grind up 1-2 weeks at a time and store them in the fridge or freezer.

Avoid using already ground flax seeds or flax meal from the store as there is a greater potential for rancidity which can increase inflammation in the body.


Tracking Your Progress: How to Evaluate the Effects of Seed Cycling

Seed cycling is one nutritional strategy that can help support hormone balance. When done consistently, you can begin to notice a shift in your hormones around 90 days. 

However, seed cycling alone cannot rebalance your hormones. Hormone imbalances can be a result of digestive dysfunction, blood sugar imbalances, stress, nutrition deficiencies, poor sleep, and environmental toxins

Seed cycling that is done in conjunction with other dietary and lifestyle strategies and addressing the root cause of the hormonal imbalance can have a lasting positive impact on your health and well-being. 

 *The information available on this website is for general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely exclusively on information provided on the Website for your health needs. You can read more about our disclaimer here.*


1.Phipps WR, Martini MC, Lampe JW, Slavin JL, Kurzer MS. Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Nov;77(5):1215-9. doi: 10.1210/jcem.77.5.8077314. PMID: 8077314.

2.Musazadeh V, Nazari A, Natami M, Hajhashemy Z, Kazemi KS, Torabi F, Moridpour AH, Vajdi M, Askari G. The effect of flaxseed supplementation on sex hormone profile in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Front Nutr. 2023 Oct 20;10:1222584. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1222584. PMID: 37927501; PMCID: PMC10623424.

3.Phipps WR, Martini MC, Lampe JW, Slavin JL, Kurzer MS. Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Nov;77(5):1215-9. doi: 10.1210/jcem.77.5.8077314. PMID: 8077314.

4.Garner TB, Hester JM, Carothers A, Diaz FJ. Role of zinc in female reproduction. Biol Reprod. 2021 May 7;104(5):976-994. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioab023. PMID: 33598687; PMCID: PMC8599883.

5.Parazzini F, Di Martino M, Pellegrino P. Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnes Res. 2017 Feb 1;30(1):1-7. English. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2017.0419. PMID: 28392498.

6.Takasaki, A., Tamura, H., Taniguchi, K. et al. Luteal blood flow and luteal function. J Ovarian Res 2, 1 (2009). 

7.Shobeiri F, Oshvandi K, Nazari M. Clinical effectiveness of vitamin E and vitamin B6 for improving pain severity in cyclic mastalgia. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2015 Nov-Dec;20(6):723-7. doi: 10.4103/1735-9066.170003. PMID: 26793260; PMCID: PMC4700694.

8.Cardoso CA, Oliveira GMM, Gouveia LAV, Moreira ASB, Rosa G. The effect of dietary intake of sesame (Sesamumindicum L.) derivatives related to the lipid profile and blood pressure: A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Jan 2;58(1):116-125. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1137858. Epub 2017 Jun 28. PMID: 26853814.

9.Rasheed N, Ahmed A, Nosheen F, Imran A, Islam F, Noreen R, Chauhan A, Shah MA, Amer Ali Y. Effectiveness of combined seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flaxseed): As adjacent therapy to treat polycystic ovary syndrome in females. Food Sci Nutr. 2023 Mar 25;11(6):3385-3393. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.3328. PMID: 37324929; PMCID: PMC10261760.


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