Aerial view of hands holding a blue bowl of fruits, seeds, and yogurt for seed cycling

                This story originally ran in 2018, but it’s so useful we’re bringing it back!

What The Heck
 is seed cycling? Holistic nutritionist, wellness pro and founder of Women’s Wellness Collective, Kristin Dahl recently introduced us to the term while decoding the hormonal stages of our monthly cycle. We’re intrigued by the idea and love the holistic nature of the approach. How can loading up your diet with certain seeds, at certain time of the month, benefit the inner-workings of your body? Kristin explains…

Seed cycling is a method of using various seeds to support different phases of our monthly cycles to balance hormone levels, relieve PMS and perimenopause symptoms, stimulate menstruation if it’s absent (amenorrhea), increase fertility and support the body in healing 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 food medicine as the healing modality, alleviating the need for any other therapies, medications, supplements or herbs. Cycling refers to the rotation of different seeds between our two main menstrual cycle phases (follicular and luteal), which helps to regulate hormone secretions within the body and hormone excretions out of the body.

About Your Cycle…

Our menstrual cycles have two main phases:

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

In traditional ideologies, 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. Realistically, a 28-day cycle doesn’t always happen, and that’s alright. A woman’s cycle may range from 21 to 35 days. Being removed and disconnected from nature can be a contributing factor to our cycles being off from this ancient rhythm, as can experiencing chronic levels of unmanaged daily stress. However, using the seed cycling system can help to set your menstrual phases in sync with what is right for your body. It’s also helpful to reconnect with nature as often as possible, spending time outdoors and practicing earthing and to begin following the moon phases and gazing at the moon several times throughout the month.

Keep in mind that change takes time, and we need to honor the delicate balances and sensitivities of our bodies. It will likely take three to four cycles before you begin to see noticeable changes, so be patient and allow the power of food medicine to heal your body. It’s helpful to continue cycling, even after you have noticed substantial changes.

*Consult with a holistic practitioner if you have severe hormonal imbalances & need individualized support.

The cycling uses alternating seeds high in specific oils and nutrients to balance the hormones that are prevalent in each phase. Use this two-stage guide to support hormone balance and regulation.

How To Seed Cycle

You will consume one tablespoon of each of the specific freshly ground seeds per day in equal parts (two tablespoons total). Where to start depends on how familiar you are with your cycle and how regular it is. This is where a period tracker or a good old-fashioned calendar can help.

Follicular Phase
The follicular phase lasts about 14 days, starting on the first day of menstruation. In this phase, our estrogen levels start low and steadily increase in preparation for ovulation (the release of an egg) and potential pregnancy. Rising estrogen levels increase luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, while decreasing estrogen levels cause the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) – so there’s a fine line between too much and too little estrogen, and imbalanced levels can wreak havoc on these other hormones too. If we keep estrogen levels balanced, LH and FSH levels will follow. Cycling with seeds that contain phytoestrogens will do just that. Phytoestrogens are a plant-based source of estrogen that adapt to the body’s estrogen levels. They increase estrogen levels where needed, yet they also can decrease excess estrogen in the body. This is thanks to the lignans they contain, which bind to estrogen receptors and help to modulate estrogen production. Along with phytoestrogens, seeds that are high in omega 3s are also beneficial, as omega 3s help to reduce inflammation in the body, regulate FSH levels and support reproductive membrane function.

Along with the seed cycling, fish oil supplementation during the follicular phase can be a beneficial addition as it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and another great source of omega 3s.

Start phase 1 cycling on the first day of your period and continue it for approximately 14 days. If you’re aware of your day of ovulation (which can be determined by testing your cervical mucus or using an at-home kit), continue the cycle until this day. If your follicular phase lasts longer than three weeks, this is a sign that you may have some imbalances.

Flax Seeds
+ High in lignans to block excess estrogen production
+ 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

Luteal Phase

The luteal phase should last at least ten days, and any less is a clear indicator of low progesterone and possible fertility issues. Progesterone is responsible for enhancing the endometrium (uterine lining) and facilitating egg implantation, and reaching adequate levels of progesterone requires this timeframe. The luteal phase is brought on by the sudden drop in estrogen, FSH and LH, which occurs just after ovulation. This is when progesterone levels should begin to rise steadily. Estrogen levels also increase during this phase, and if they get too high, they’re responsible for PMS symptoms and a difficult cycle. Progesterone keeps estrogen in check, and so modulating healthy progesterone levels is vital for reproductive health. In this phase, we want to focus on omega 6s, which convert into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the body, supporting progesterone levels and reducing inflammation in the body related to PMS.

In addition to the seed cycling, evening primrose oil (EPO) supplementation during the luteal phase can be helpful as well, as it’s another source of omega 6s and helps to reduce PMS pain and boost fertility.

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 allows for 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 modulate estrogen and progesterone levels
+ High in omega 6 (which converts into GLA in the body)

Sunflower Seeds
+ High in selenium, which supports liver function to prevent clogging from excess hormones, resulting in proper hormone excretion
+ High in omega 6 (which converts into GLA in the body)

Evening Primrose Oil (Bonus)
+ High in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and other important omega 6 fatty acid

Things to Remember

+ Always use raw (unroasted, unsalted/seasoned) seeds to ensure they have their medicinal properties in full. Use organic seeds when available.

+ Seeds are high in fats and can oxidize when left in the sunlight and warmer temperatures. Try to keep seeds in a cool, dark place – preferably the fridge.

+ Seeds begin to oxidize 15 minutes after they’re ground, so grinding fresh is best. If this is an inconvenience or not always available, store pre-ground seeds in the freezer and take the portion as needed.

+ Seeds can be eaten with other foods. Try them in a smoothie, salad, soup, or grain bowl. If you’re eating them with warm foods, add them to the dish after cooking to avoid denaturing the nutrients.

Grab this recipe for Seed Cycling Crackers to make this all incredibly easy!

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  1. What about quantities ? 100 grams of 250 grams a day?

    Alex | 03.09.2018 | Reply
    • i think they said one teaspoon of each seed a day and one supplement of the bonus

      sivi | 03.12.2018 | Reply
    • Consume one tablespoon of each of the specific freshly ground seeds per day in equal parts (two tablespoons total).

      kristin dahl | 03.13.2018 | Reply
  2. And if you are perenopausal or are in menopause? why is the protocol for those?

    • you can start the cycle anytime – just follow the guide & try 2 weeks of each & then a 5-7 day break in between!

      kristin dahl | 03.13.2018 | Reply
    • If you are having more intense or aggressive hormonal imbalance – it’s best to work directly with a holistic practitioner for specific guidance.

      kristin dahl | 03.13.2018 | Reply
  3. I am also interested in seeding for hormone regulation in post menopause.

    Mary Ann | 03.12.2018 | Reply
    • Yes! It’s super helpful! you can start the cycle anytime – just follow the guide & try 2 weeks of each & then a 5-7 day break in between! If you are having more intense or aggressive hormonal imbalance – it’s best to work directly with a holistic practitioner for specific guidance.

      kristin dahl | 03.13.2018 | Reply
  4. This was interesting to me, but as someone who adheres to a vegan diet these are seeds that I already incorporate into my regular routine. Is it something where I would be sure to include an additional amount of the ones crucial to each phase or how would this work for someone who already regularly intakes these ingredients?

    Jenna | 03.16.2018 | Reply
    • perhaps try sticking to the higher amounts of the specific seeds during the different phases of your cycle and see how that helps you!

      kristin | 05.24.2018 | Reply
    • perhaps try sticking to the higher amounts of the specific seeds during the different phases of your cycle and see how that helps you!

      kristin dahl | 05.24.2018 | Reply

    Mother | 03.17.2018 | Reply
  6. My daughter is on a 3-month birth control pill. Could this work while on that pill?

    Eva Grayzel | 03.25.2018 | Reply
    • perhaps, but if the imbalance is due to the pill (likely) it’s best to transition off & then begin the process.

      kristin dahl | 05.24.2018 | Reply
  7. What about menopause?

    Lydia Thieme | 03.27.2018 | Reply
    • Yes! It’s super helpful! you can start the cycle anytime (helpful to start on the new moon!) – just follow the guide & try 2 weeks of each & then a 5-7 day break in between! If you are having more intense or aggressive hormonal imbalance – it’s best to work directly with a holistic practitioner for specific guidance.

      kristin | 05.24.2018 | Reply
  8. Thank you for for us information. At the beginning of the article it says phase 2 begins at the full moon, but in the phase 2 instructions it says to start at the new moon. Which is correct? Thank you

    Erin | 04.06.2018 | Reply
    • depends when your period starts! some women get it on the full moon, while others get it on the new moon & some are in between. try syncing your cycle with one of those moon phases & then supporting your body with the rhythm from there!

      kristin dahl | 05.24.2018 | Reply
  9. How long do you keep at it?
    Thank you!

    Cindy | 05.04.2018 | Reply
    • as long as you’d like! it takes at least a few months to see notable changes.

      kristin dahl | 05.24.2018 | Reply
  10. This article was very helpful, thank you! I’m interested in seed cycling to help deal with heavy and irregular flows and severe pain. Wondering about the doses (1 tablespoon each daily) and if that should be adjusted for size. For example, does the 1 tbsp dose apply to women who are around recommended healthy weight only? What about women who weigh more than 200 lbs or 250 lbs or 300 lbs or more? Should the doses be increased for size and how much should they be increased?

    Joan | 07.04.2018 | Reply
  11. Thank you so much for sharing this. I missed my period 3 months guess must be stress. I was in so much discomfort struggling for 2 months with terrible PMS symptoms and finally just got it. So I wanna take better care of my hormones from now onwards and was looking up this method.

    Quick question. Must the seeds be grounded to be effective. What if we consume without grounding it. Is there any difference?

    Thanks in advance for your reply .

    Audrey | 08.05.2018 | Reply
  12. Do seeds have to be grounded? Can I not just use them as they are? I like to add different seeds on top of my porridge 🙂

    Maddie | 08.11.2018 | Reply
  13. I am so intrigued by seed cycling and our cycles being synched with the moon! This is the first time I’ve heard of seed cycling, and I’m really curious what my body’s reaction would be.

    Julie | 09.03.2018 | Reply
  14. Thanks for this piece! I have digestive sensitivities to both flax seeds and sesame seeds—would it still be helpful to use only pumpkin seeds (2 tbsp during follicular phase) and sunflower seeds (2 tbsp during luteal phase)?

    Allison | 09.11.2018 | Reply
  15. Thank you for this post! very informative. My problem is spotting/very light bleeding doesn’t stop. One month, it is quite clear I ovulate and have normal period, but then next week, my period is not normal (not much) and never stops (it goes for several months if I don’t take the pill). Would there be any suggestions to stop this spotting? which hormones’s lacking could cause this? Thank you so much.

    Jennifer | 09.22.2018 | Reply
  16. Great post. I began my seed cycle in Aug. I spotted a little earlier than my period i.e on 20th Sept. Assuming it to be my period I started with flax/pumpkin. But my actual flow started on 25th. And it is still going on (definitely not a proper cycle this one). But I am still continuing my first set of seeds and would be switching to sesame/sunflower on 7th/8th Oct. Am I doing it right? Your thoughts on this would be helpful.

    Shilpa | 10.04.2018 | Reply
  17. Hi – thanks for the information. I just started this week. I’m curious whether or not I need to avoid the two seeds that aren’t in the two-week period, i.e. during the flax/pumpkin seed time, do I avoid sesame/sunflower seeds?

    Barby | 10.09.2018 | Reply
  18. I want to start seed cycling but am kind of concerned with the lack of omega 3’s in the luteal phase. Right now I tend to eat 2 – 6 tbsp a day of hemp seeds and am wondering if they can be used during any of the phases (particularly the luteal phase)?

    Sarah Green | 10.16.2018 | Reply
  19. This has been a tremendously helpful article, thank you! I have PCOS and my cycle ranges between 30 and 45 days (I am already working alongside a health practitioner and am slowly on the road to managing it through diet and lifestyle). I’m confused about when I should be switching seeds?
    Should I change seeds every 15 days? For instance, I am now on day 37 of my cycle. I did flax and pumpkin seeds for 15 days, and then switched and am still doing the sesame/sunflower seeds, but my period hasn’t come yet. Should I just keep going with the sesame/sunflower until it comes? Or switch back to pumpkin/flax after 15 days regardless of whether or not my period has started?
    Would it be more helpful for my body if I measured my basal temperature, found out when I ovulated, and then switched, even if that means I’d still be having very long cycles?
    Thank you so much for any advice!

    Kayleigh | 11.19.2018 | Reply
  20. hi , iam suffering from amnhorrhoea, periods stopped , iam 28 yrs old , will this seed cycle work , Doctors have prescribed that 28 days yamini pills ,to regulate cycle

    Sneh | 12.26.2018 | Reply
  21. Evening primrose should be taken in the first half of your cycle, not the second! In fact, taking evening primrose in the second half could cause you to not get pregnant! Fish oil can be taken in the second half of your cycle.

  22. What do you do if you start seed cycling but your period doesn’t come after 28 days? I’m assuming to switch back to the flax and pumpkin as day 1 but then what do you do if your period starts at random? Do you stay on whatever cycle you would have been or do you start the count over with day 1?

    Joleen | 03.19.2019 | Reply
  23. Useful article. Just want to know if a PCOs patient conceived n is taking these seed, so are these seeds ok to consume during pregnancy?

    Areej | 05.28.2019 | Reply
  24. My husband and I are trying to concieve and I was told evening primrose after ovulation can cause uterine contractions and shouldn’t be used when trying to concieve. Can I not use it or would it be ok? Is there any other things I should try to help my chances of concieving as well?

    Paige | 06.12.2019 | Reply
  25. I have a question.

    I started seeds cycle about a month and a have ago, and I got a little lost with the seeds cycle, since I got me period one week late.
    So I don’t know now if I’m supposed to keep switching seeds every two weeks, to eventually organize my cycle with the help of seed’s cycle, or if I should reorganize my seeds intake, from this last period, and keep doing that with every period, and that it eventually will fit the day I start my period with the change of seeds, and same with the day of ovulation with the seeds change again.

    I hope I was clear enough… it basically, I got lost on how to continue seed cycling if I got a delayed period.

    Thanks for the help!

    Sol from the south | 01.31.2020 | Reply
  26. Definitely take EPO (evening primrose oil) in the follicular phase, not your luteal phase!! There’s a lot of research out there that goes against the advice here but only in that one regard to EPO. Otherwise everything stated here is useful and true. Maybe it was just a typo? Hopefully it can be amended so this advice doesn’t hurt women.

    Joanne | 04.18.2020 | Reply
  27. What will be right time to consume the seeds i mean the timing in a day ?

    gaaythiri | 05.02.2020 | Reply
  28. I have an IUD, am breastfeeding and don’t have a period yet. How should I start seed cycling?

    Hope | 06.29.2020 | Reply
  29. Will definitely be trying this, thanks for the info! Where can I get ground sesame seeds though? Im having a hard time finding them.

    Anna | 06.30.2020 | Reply
    • You can grind sesame seeds easily in a coffee grinder and keep them in the fridge.

      The Chalkboard | 07.07.2020 | Reply
  30. Thank you for sharing this! But I’ve been reading contradictory information about WHEN to take evening primrose oil. Some references recommend using it before your period or only during your period or right after your period. With each article promoting their recommendations without discrediting or clarifying contradictory data, it’s hard to understand why when a specific time is recommended. Can you explain when is the best time to take evening primrose oil for menstrual cramps and why?

    Jaymie Yang | 12.18.2020 | Reply

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