Does Seed Cycling Work? | The PNW Clinic
May 23, 2023
Seed cycling is a popular dietary practice that has gained a lot of attention in recent years.
It involves the consumption of specific seeds during certain phases of the menstrual cycle, with the goal of regulating hormone levels and improving overall reproductive health.
But does it actually work? In this blog post, our online dietitian will explore the science behind seed cycling and discuss whether or not it is an effective way to support hormonal health.
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling typically involves consuming different types of seeds during different phases of the menstrual cycle.
In the follicular phase, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are consumed. While in the luteal phase, sesame and sunflower seeds are consumed.
The idea is that the different types of seeds contain nutrients that support the body’s hormonal processes during each phase of the menstrual cycle.
Flax seeds, for example, are high in lignans, which are compounds that can help to balance estrogen levels in the body.
Pumpkin seeds, on the other hand, are a good source of zinc, which is important for progesterone production. Sesame seeds contain lignans and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E. Both of these nutrients support hormone production and balance.
What are the proposed benefits of seed cycling?
The proposed benefits of seed cycling include:
- Reducing acne
- Regulating periods
- Managing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Easing symptoms of menopause
Why might someone try seed cycling?
Seed cycling proposes to help normalise hormonal imbalances.
In women, hormonal imbalances can be caused by various health conditions such as PCOS and hypothyroidism (1).
Hormonal imbalances can also be caused by lifestyle-related factors, such as over-exercising and being underweight (1).
During menopause, hormonal imbalances occur as levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease. These hormone fluctuations can lead to symptoms such as hot flushes and weight gain.
What does the science say about seed cycling?
There are many proposed benefits of seed cycling. However, there is very little scientific evidence to support its effectiveness in normalising hormonal imbalances. Several small studies have examined the individual seeds used in seed cycling and their potential benefits for hormone regulation (2).
These studies showed that the effects of lignans present in flax seeds were primarily linked to their anticancer attributes. This study was unable to determine their ability to normalise hormone balance (3, 4).
Regarding sesame seeds, a study conducted over a period of five weeks on postmenopausal women. This study discovered that the daily consumption of 1.8 ounces (50 grams) of sesame powder led to increased levels of certain sex hormones. However, it did not have an impact on estrogen levels (5).
Are there any downsides to seed cycling?
One issue with seed cycling is that it is based on the assumption that the menstrual cycle is always the same length for every woman.
In reality, the length of the menstrual cycle can vary widely between individuals, and even for the same person from cycle to cycle. This means that the timing of seed cycling may not always align with the phases of the menstrual cycle as intended.
Another concern is that the amount of nutrients found in seeds is relatively small. It is not clear whether consuming these seeds in the amounts recommended for seed cycling (usually one to two tablespoons per day) is enough to have a significant impact on hormone levels.
Additionally, the bioavailability of these nutrients may be affected by factors such as the processing and preparation of the seeds.
What does this mean for those who are considering seed cycling as a way to support their hormonal health?
There is no harm in consuming seeds as part of a healthy diet. However, it is important to keep in mind that seed cycling is not a proven or evidence-based intervention for hormonal imbalances.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as irregular periods, acne, or mood swings, it is important to seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider, such as an online dietitian at The PNW Clinic.
In conclusion, while seed cycling may be a trendy dietary practice, there is currently no strong scientific evidence to support its use for hormonal imbalances.
If you are experiencing symptoms related to hormonal health, it is important to seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider who can provide personalised recommendations based on your individual needs.
An online dietitian can be a valuable resource in this regard, providing expert guidance and support on how to achieve optimal hormonal health through dietary and lifestyle changes.
Written by: PNW Dietitian Jade Wrigley