Don’t be fooled; this article isn’t about gardening. I first heard about the practice of seed cycling through the grapevine that is social media.
As someone who works in the internet realm, I’ve become accustomed to homing in on potential large-scale trends or out-there subject matter. So, my eye was immediately drawn to the burgeoning movement nestled within the TikTok wellness community and the profiles of holistic Instagrammers.
Suddenly, these tiny, pricey whole foods started popping up everywhere. A host of online personas sprinkling pumpkin seeds onto smoothie bowls and enthusiastically stirring flax seeds into oatmeal, all while broadcasting how beneficial seed cycling was for insert reason here.
Since I’m not one to dismiss a practice that’s been around since the 1500s (and probably much longer), I decided to delve a little deeper down this wellness rabbit hole.
Most of my initial findings were unscientifically backed promotions and blog posts, all of which only confused me more.
It wasn’t until I came across some particularly simple infographics that I finally understood the concept the online community had been preaching about.
Then, a new question arose in my mind: Is it legit? Or simply trendy?
Put simply, seed cycling is the alternative practice of adding certain seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, etc.) into your diet, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.
Phase one is the initial two weeks of your cycle, starting on the first day you bleed. One tbsp of flax and One tbsp of pumpkin are taken daily during this phase. Phase two begins on day 14 of your cycle (around ovulation). One tbsp of sunflower and one tbsp of sesame seeds are taken daily.
This may seem unusual, but even with little to no scientific evidence (that I can find) on the practice, there is plenty out there on the benefits of these seeds on hormonal health.
Lignans—compounds found within flax seeds—are phytoestrogens, which can mimic the effects of human estrogen. While sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame contain high levels of selenium or zinc, both of which are vital in supporting a healthy hormonal balance.
So, by syncing each seed according to its hormonal health benefits, it’s thought to aid in maintaining your cycle. Plus, the extra boost of Omega-3’s (a vital nutrient, especially for vegans or those averse to seafood) reduces inflammation, promotes healthy hormonal metabolism, and increases cervical mucus production.
I must admit, this practice intrigued me. I’ve heard about cycle syncing, where you sync your social calendar, workout routine, and diet to your menstrual phases. But that always felt wildly impractical and also a huge commitment. To me, the idea of adding a couple of tablespoons of seeds into my daily diet seemed much more manageable.
Especially since over the past few years, my cycle’s been a little out of whack.
And that’s nothing unusual. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), up to 14% of women say they experience an irregular menstrual cycle. Factors such as stress, exercise, the pill, and even sleep quality (to name a few) can all affect a person’s hormonal balance.
You can still try the seed cycling method if your periods are irregular. Altering the timings of the seeds to follow the moon’s cycle can be an effective way to help re-regulate your menstrual rhythm.
But don’t be disheartened if you don’t see results straight away. Like anything, it takes time. Your body needs at least a few months to adapt to and work with the new regime. You can use a journal to track any noticeable shifts, altering the timeline if needed.
It can’t be denied that there must be some legitimacy to seed cycling. After all, the utilization of herbs, seeds, and other foods to restore health and hormones has long been practiced, particularly amongst ancient or indigenous cultures. Still, the lack of scientific evidence may be off-putting to some, who may readily disregard it as hippie or millennial nonsense.
Either way, there’s no harm in adding a few extra seeds into your daily routine. It’s not as if they’re bad for you. And if they do help to ease or aid your menstrual cycle, then that’s a bonus, right?