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Does Seed Cycling Help Balance Hormones? An RD Weighs In

April 13, 2024

You know what a profound effect food can have over your health. What you eat is connected to your immune system, mood, longevity, inflammation, and more. With hormones and the concept of “hormone balance” all over the wellness world, the practice of seed cycling — eating certain seeds during specific phases of the menstrual cycle — has cropped up as a potential natural remedy to hormone-related symptoms such as cramps, breakouts, bloating, and fatigue.

But let’s be real: Hormones are tricky. So can something as simple as eating seeds make a real difference? We spoke with registered dietitian Sydney Greene to get the scoop on this approach and whether it lives up to the hype.

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What is seed cycling?

The practice involves incorporating specific seeds into your diet at different phases of the month. Advocates propose that flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds contain nutrients that influence estrogen and progesterone levels. The idea is that combining these nutrients for dedicated times each month can help bring these hormones into healthy ranges and alleviate symptoms of hormonal imbalance. 

It’s important to note that although seed cycling has been around for centuries, the evidence supporting its effectiveness isn’t all that robust. However, Greene notes that “there is some scientific evidence showing that seeds directly affect hormones as well as things like inflammation, digestion, and even insomnia, which in turn can affect hormone balance.” 

But if you’re looking for a cure-all, don’t get your hopes up too high. “Hormones are complex, and while seed cycling may offer some benefits, it likely isn’t a standalone solution,” Greene says.

Is seed cycling safe?

The good news is that even if seed cycling doesn’t offer you a complete or immediate fix, it is considered a safe practice. After all, seeds are nutritional powerhouses. “Seeds in general are excellent sources of fiber and healthy fats,” says Greene. “Individually, each type of seed provides its unique blend of nutrients. Pumpkin seeds, for example, are protein rich and a great source of iron, magnesium, and zinc. Sesame seeds are a good source of calcium and B vitamins.” 

Additionally, although conversations about seed cycling typically center on women with a monthly menstrual cycle, seed cycling advocates propose that anyone can benefit — even those with an irregular or absent cycle, including men and perimenopausal or menopausal women. However, Greene notes that it’s always wise to consult your healthcare provider before trying any new health intervention.

How to incorporate seed cycling

Curious to give seed cycling a go? Here’s how to do it. Sprinkle the seeds on yogurt bowls or oatmeal, add them to salads, or blend them in smoothies.  

If you have a menstrual cycle:

  • Follicular phase (days 1 to 14 of the menstrual cycle): Incorporate one tablespoon each of flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds every day. 
  • Luteal phase (days 15 to 28): Switch to one tablespoon each of sesame and sunflower seeds per day.

If you don’t have a cycle, or yours is irregular:

  • Spend 15 days each on the two seed combinations. “If your period is irregular or absent, you can still benefit from seed cycling by following a consistent pattern each month,” Greene notes. 

What else can you do to support hormonal health?

Nutrition plays a huge role in our hormonal health as in our overall health. Greene recommends eating plenty of produce and a moderate amount of animal products, and minimizing ultra-processed foods

She also recommends limiting our exposure to endocrine disruptors in food and in our everyday environments. These are natural or synthetic chemicals that may block or otherwise interfere with our hormones.  “Try to buy organic produce and choose wisely when shopping for animal products,” Greene says. “Choose smaller fish like sardines and anchovies and buy organic land animal products when possible. Prioritize glass Tupperware, stainless steel water bottles, eco-friendly cleaning products, fragrance-free products, and cooking gadgets that are free of BPA and PFAS. Additionally, try to avoid microwaving food in plastic containers and consider swapping beauty products for nontoxic options.” 


While seed cycling may offer some potential benefits for hormone health, it’s essential to approach it as one piece of the puzzle rather than a cure-all solution. By prioritizing a holistic approach to wellness, including balanced nutrition, managing stress, and reducing exposure to environmental toxins, we can better support our hormone health and overall well-being.

Read next: 6 Eating Habits That Might Be Increasing Your Stress

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