Hormone Balance with Seed Cycling

Hormone Balance with Seed Cycling

Hormone Balance with Seed Cycling

Seed Cycling is a simple practice that can be used by women looking to achieve better hormonal balance and elevate many of the symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. Many women find it an incredibly useful method, that can assist in various aspects of their reproductive and endocrine system, putting them back in control to supporting overall well-being.

The method uses various seeds to support the two main phases of our monthly cycle to balance hormone levels, relieve PMS and peri-menopause symptoms, stimulate menstruation if it’s absent (amenorrhea), increase fertility and support the body in addressing more serious conditions like ovarian cysts, PCOS and endometriosis.  

Seed cycling is an incredibly natural and inexpensive way to support the female body, and it’s easy to do. It simply uses the power of food as medicine, alternating combinations of flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, using the specific oils and nutrients of the different seeds to support the balance of hormones that are prevalent in each phase. Below outlines how it can support various issues linked to the hormonal cycle.


Regulating Hormones and Reducing PMS Symptoms
The varying plant chemistry and nutrients of each of the different seeds means they can play a specific role in regulating hormones throughout the cycle. The Follicular phase is characterised by rising oestrogen levels and low progesterone. Flax seeds contain compounds known as phytoestrogens, which act to regulate oestrogen levels in the body, while pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc and can support healthy progesterone production. 


At the start of the Luteal phase, oestrogen levels drop and progesterone levels begin to rise. Sunflower seeds are rich in Vitamin E, which can keep progesterone levels balanced, and sesame seeds contain selenium and zinc, both of which help to clear excess oestrogen.


The fluctuating progesterone levels in the body during the second half of the luteal phase can give rise to the symptoms often associated with PMS. When progesterone levels rise and fall rapidly, the body responds with symptoms like water retention, cramping, moodiness, breast tenderness, acne and cravings. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds can help to keep progesterone levels from increasing or dropping too low. By keeping progesterone levels more balanced, you can reduce the severity or even eliminate PMS symptoms. 


Ovulation is when women are most fertile and able to conceive. If there isn’t enough oestrogen in the body, women may not ovulate, which can lead to issues with fertility. The balancing nature of seed cycling prevents oestrogen levels from rising too high or falling too low at any point during the cycle. This supports regular ovulation, essential for healthy fertility.


Supporting Liver Detoxification
The liver is crucial in balancing and regulating the sex hormones in the body. If there is sub-optimal liver function, excess hormones like oestrogen may not be eliminated from the body effectively. This can lead to various symptoms of hormonal imbalance, such as irregular periods, acne and cramping. 

Sunflower seeds are rich in selenium, a mineral that aids healthy liver detoxification and supports healthy hormone balance. 


Support for the Menopause
Seed cycling can be useful in supporting the many symptoms associated with peri-menopause and menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, headaches and even brain fog.

For those who are not menstruating, you can still seed cycle by following 2 x 2 week alternating of the seed combinations - it’s helpful to follow the moon cycles as a guide (see Guide to Seed Cycling below). The phytoestrogens in flaxseeds help to significantly reduce hot flashes, while pumpkin seeds can help to alleviate symptoms such as joint pain and headaches.


Our Menstrual Cycle

 Two main phases:

  • The follicular phase (phase 1) begins with menstruation
  • The luteal phase (phase 2) starts after ovulation

As I said above, seed cycling is composed of two parts, each part corresponding to these phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle. During the Follicular Phase (day 1 of your period to day 14), 1 tbsp of flax seeds and 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds are consumed. During the Luteal Phase (day 15 to day 28 or the start of your period), 1 tbsp of sesame seeds and 1 tbsp of sunflower seeds are consumed.

In a simpler time, traditionally our menstrual cycle was in sync with the cycle of the moon,  the phases would be on a 14-day rotation of a 28-day cycle, with phase 1 beginning on the new moon, and phase 2 beginning on the full moon. 

However a 28-day cycle doesn’t always happen, and that’s alright. A woman’s cycle may range from 21 to 35 days. Modern life often removes or disconnects us from this natural rhythm, as can experiencing chronic levels of unmanaged daily stress. 

Using seed cycling can help to reset the natural rhythm. Reconnecting with nature as often as possible, spending time outdoors and being aware of the moon phases (try gazing at the moon several times throughout the month) may help to regulate this rhythm.

Be aware change takes time. It will likely take three to four cycles before you begin to see noticeable changes.


A Guide to Seed Cycling

Seed Cycling makes use of specific oils and nutrients in different seed to balance the hormones that are more prevalent in each phase.



The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstruation and lasts about 14 days. Follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) rises to stimulate growth of the ovarian follicle.

Oestrogen levels start low in this phase and steadily increase, this rising oestrogen increases luteinizing hormone (LH) which triggers release of egg from the ovary and ovulation occurs. 

Too much oestrogen in this phase and FSH is inhibited. So there’s a fine line between too much and too little oestrogen, and imbalanced levels can wreak havoc on these other hormones too. If we keep oestrogen levels balanced, LH and FSH levels will follow. 

Phytoestrogens are a plant-based source of oestrogen that have balancing and modulating effect on our own oestrogen. They increase oestrogen levels where needed, yet can also decrease excess oestrogen in the body. This is due to the lignans they contain, which bind to oestrogen receptors and help to modulate oestrogen production. 

Cycling with seeds that contain phytoestrogens can help to keep our own oestrogens balanced. Along with phytoestrogens, seeds that are high in anti-inflammatory omega 3s can help to reduce inflammation, regulate FSH levels and support reproductive membrane function. Omega 3 fish oil supplementation during the follicular phase can be a beneficial addition during this phase.


Start phase 1 cycling on the first day of your period and continue it for approximately 14 days if you have a 28 day cycle. If you know your day of ovulation and your follicular phase lasts longer than three weeks, this is a sign that you may have some imbalances.

 Flax Seeds

  • High in lignans to regulate estrogen
  • High in omega 3s

 Pumpkin Seeds

  • Rich in zinc, which prepares the body for progesterone secretion in the next phase
  • High in omega 3s

 Fish Oil (Bonus)

  • Contains EPA and DHA, important omega 3 fats found only in cold water fish
  • High in lignans



The luteal phase is brought on by the sudden drop in oestrogen, FSH and LH, which occurs just after ovulation. This is when progesterone levels should begin to rise steadily. Progesterone is responsible for enhancing the lining of the uterus to facilitate egg implantation.

This phase, from ovulation to menstruation, should last at least ten days, reaching adequate levels of progesterone requires this length of time, if shorter than this it is an indicator of low progesterone and possible fertility issues. 

Oestrogen levels will then begin to increase during this phase, however if they get too high, they can lead to various PMS symptoms. Progesterone keeps oestrogen in check, and so supporting healthy progesterone levels is vital not only for reproductive health but also to reduce undesirable PMS symptoms. Omega 6 gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) supports progesterone levels and reduces inflammation in the body related to PMS.

Begin phase 2 after ovulation or after two weeks to balance hormones. If you have an irregular cycle or if you suffer from amenorrhea, an easy start date is on the first day of the new moon. This gives you a simple date sequence to keep track of and allows you to follow an equal, alternating 14-day cycle.


Sesame Seeds

  • High in lignans to help modulate oestrogen and progesterone levels
  • High in omega 6 Linoleic Acid (converted to GLA in the body)


Sunflower Seeds

  • High in selenium, which supports liver function to clear excess hormones, resulting in proper hormone excretion
  • High in omega 6 (which converts into GLA in the body)


Borage Oil (Bonus)

  • High in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and other important omega 6 fatty acids
  • Helps to reduce PMS pain & symptoms


If you're allergic to or avoiding one of the seeds, just add in an extra tablespoon of the other for that phase. For example, 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds in phase 1 if you’re avoiding flax seeds or 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds in phase 2 if you’re avoiding sunflower seeds.