Sarah Guerrero is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She has a degree in international business from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and writes about sustainable business practices and ethical living.
One of the things that makes me feel the most empowered as a woman is understanding my monthly cycle, and learning how to support my body. Often, that means learning how to address problems like bad cramping, heavy flows, and hormonal acne (been there, done that for all of the above) naturally.
In the past, I’ve relied on diet changes (so helpful!), homeopathic remedies (love them), and adaptogens (give me all the adaptogens) to help--and I was really excited to learn more about seed cycling!
Photo by Maddi Bazzocco
Seed cycling is a really simple, totally natural way to help with cycle-related problems for menstruating people and people going through menopause. Most resources will tell you that the science isn’t conclusive when it comes to whether or not seed cycling truly helps with period relief.
But there are some pretty significant health benefits to consuming pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds!
More or less, the name says it all: during the course of your menstrual cycle, you’ll consume four different kinds of seeds (pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower) daily.
In the first half of your cycle, from day one (when your period begins) to day fourteen or fifteen (or whenever ovulation takes place for you), you’ll consume 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds and 1-2 tablespoons of ground pumpkin seeds.
In the second half of your cycle, from whenever you ovulate till you start your period, you’ll consume 1-2 tablespoons of ground sunflower seeds and 1-2 tablespoons of ground sesame seeds.
Photo by Margarita Zueva
You can sprinkle the seeds in smoothies, oatmeal, soup, or make them up into yummy seed balls. Not sure when you ovulate? Just switch your seed intake at day fourteen. Don’t have periods? You can still benefit; follow the moon’s 28 day cycle!
As you probably know, your hormones go up and down in a delicate and very complex relationship throughout your period. Hormone imbalances, however, can often lead to problems like PMS, PCOS, weight gain, hormonal acne, insomnia, and so much more.
While there’s not a whole lot of clear science on if or how seeds help, it’s believed that seeds like pumpkin and flax have properties that help your body naturally regulate estrogen and progesterone, the two main hormones involved in your cycle.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you feel like seed cycling helps your periods; what it definitely can do is contribute to your overall health.
Pumpkin, flax, sunflower, and sesame seeds have a ton of great nutrients, including zinc, vitamin E, selenium, manganese, copper, and thiamine, and have been linked to improved heart health, decreased risk of breast cancer, better blood sugar control, and decreased inflammation. In other words, there’s zero downside to trying seed cycling for yourself.