I Tried It: Seed Cycling For Hormone Balance

pumpkin and sunflower seeds for hormone balance

Do you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster throughout your menstrual cycle?

Do you suffer from mood swings, acne, fatigue and nausea in the week before you get your period?

Maybe it’s time to try seed cycling to address this hormone imbalance.

Despite specialising in this area and helping my clients improve their menstrual and hormone health, I realised a few months ago that I had to address my own hormone health. You see, I was ashamed of the hormonal acne I would get like clockwork in the week before my period. I thought to myself, “how dare I give my clients advice, when I’m struggling with the same things myself!?!”

Hormone acne is a sign of imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, so I decided to try seed cycling as a way to bring my hormones back into balance.

seed cycling to support hormone balance

If you’re new to seed cycling, or wondering about the detail behind it, here’s a great guide that I’ve written up.

In a nutshell, even though your menstrual cycle is split into 4 phases, the main principle behind seed cycling is splitting your cycle into two – day 1 – 15 (with day 1 starting on the first day of your period) and 16 – 28 (or however long your cycle actually is).

In the first part of your cycle, you’ll be taking a tablespoon of flax seed and a tablespoon of pumpkin seed each day. This supports estrogen production.

In the second half of your cycle, you’ll be supporting progesterone production by taking a tablespoon of sunflower seeds and a tablespoon of sesame seeds each day.

Seems pretty straight forward, doesn’t it?

I decided to add the seeds into my morning smoothie so that it would be easy to integrate into my morning routine and I wouldn’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.  Luckily, I had all the seeds already on hand in my kitchen cupboard, so I moved them to my kitchen counter so I would remember to add them to my morning smoothie.

So far, I’ve been doing seed cycling for three cycles, and it’s taken 3 cycles to see any difference in my skin. I have to admit that when I continued to breakout after the first round of seed cycling, I was very disappointed. I decided to keep going, knowing that it takes time and patience to bring balance back to sex hormones.

So I plunged into the next round of seed cycling, which by this point, had become a habit. As long as I had my morning smoothie, adding the seeds was an automatic action that I didn’t need to think too much about.

Cue my disappointment, when my next luteal phase arrived and so did the pimples on my chin and around the lower right hand side of my mouth and cheek.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

I looked at my skin in the mirror this morning and realised that my usual luteal phase spots hadn’t appeared. And I did a little cartwheel of joy inside!

I’m taking a wait and see approach to the seed cycling and will probably continue to do it for at least three more menstrual cycles to continue to balance my hormones and support my skin health.

Would you try seed cycling to support hormone balance, skin health and your menstrual cycle?

Are you ready to make a positive change to your health? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone and menstrual health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

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  1. Afia Amoako wrote:

    I just started seed cycling and I am in my trial of seed cycling and my acne is getting worse. Not sure if I should persist but read your post and thought I will continue to give it a shot.

    Posted 9.16.18 Reply
    • Hi Afia – thanks for stopping by! Recent research has shown that sunflower seeds can exacerbate acne, so I would suggest swapping the sunflower seeds for an extra tablespoon for sesame seeds in the second half of your cycle. Let me know if that makes a difference!

      Posted 9.18.18 Reply
  2. Melanie Barry wrote:

    Will this help to lengthen my cycles? They average 25 days apart, but its day 22 and i am bleeding. 😢 am also trying to conceive. Will it hinder that?

    Posted 11.22.18 Reply
    • Hi Melanie – seed cycling can help balance hormones. A better hormone balance can potentially lengthen a cycle, however I wouldn’t use seed cycling specifically for this. It can also help fertility through hormone balance and can ensure the right nutrients that support high quality eggs and a thick womb lining, alongside a well-balanced diet. Feel free to book at a free 30 minute hormone health consultation if you have additional questions. Thanks!

      Posted 12.1.18 Reply
  3. Debbie wrote:

    Hello, I’m going to try this and see if it helps me. My breakouts are mild so I’m hoping it will. My question is if it works how long should I continue to do this? 6 months? Did you find this continued to be helpful for you?

    Posted 12.6.18 Reply
    • I recommend this to most of my clients because it can address some of the nutrient deficiencies that drive hormone imbalance. If you are doing this to address hormonal acne, it’s worth removing sunflower seeds and replacing them with another tablespoon of sesame seeds. Some do this indefinitely, and some do it for 3-4 cycles. It’s up to you!

      Posted 12.8.18 Reply
  4. Frazia Zulfiqar wrote:

    Hy there.. i get acne and facial hair on my face and get acne on my back shoulder.. my acne type is blackhead.. done with ulterasound n i get the minor pcod.. i get the periods on time just 3 4 days up and my weight is normal as well not obese should i start the seed cycle to cure acne as well pcod? Kindle reply me as u read

    Posted 12.15.18 Reply
    • Hi there! I recommend that you get in touch with a registered nutrition practitioner in your areas, as they will be able to provide you with personalised and tailored nutrition advice related to your PCOS and acne.

      Posted 12.15.18 Reply
  5. frazia wrote:

    yes i tried everything but still no use…. but i did not try the seed cycling yet…

    Posted 12.16.18 Reply
    • It’s tricky for me to give tailored advice without knowing the details of your health history. I offer a free hormone health review, if you’d like to book in for that.

      Posted 1.10.19 Reply
  6. Stacey wrote:

    Hi, I am age 47. I took flaxseed & pumpkin seed on the 10 Dec (1st day of my period) till 24 Dec before I switched to sesame seed & sunflower seed. However I began to menstruate again on 29 Dec. Should I revert to flaxseed & pumpkin seed in this case?

    Posted 12.29.18 Reply
    • Hi Stacey! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, switch to flaxseed and pumpkin seed on the first day of your period, which is the first day of your cycle.

      Posted 1.10.19 Reply
  7. Brooke Wolfgramm wrote:

    Hello! I tried seed cycling for the first time this cycle. I normally start to feel terrible and spot on day 23ish and start on day 27ish. It’s day 29 now and I’ve had no spotting and have been feeling pretty good! My mood has been way better than it normal is leading up to my period. I took a pregnancy test on day 28 and it was negative. My question is, do I start the flaxseed/pumpkin seed combo now or do nothing until my period comes? It’s new territory for me to be late!

    Posted 3.13.19 Reply
    • Hi Brooke! So lovely that you’re seeing the difference already from the seed cycling. Start the pumpkin / flax combo on the first day of your next period. Good luck!

      Posted 3.13.19 Reply
      • Brooke Wolfgramm wrote:

        Thank you for your quick reply! So just to clarify…I should stop all seeds until my period begins, correct?

        Posted 3.13.19 Reply
        • No, you can carry on with sesame and sunflower seeds until your period starts.

          Posted 3.14.19 Reply
      • Julia wrote:

        Hi! I started seed cycling almost two weeks ago on the first day of my period; 1 T of flax and 1 T of raw pumpkin seeds everyday. However, I’ve been breaking out like crazy on my jawline, cheeks, chin, neck, and even my shoulders. Normally I’ll get a few around my mouth before my period, but this is nothing like normal. I’m wondering if it’s causing my to have too much estrogen for whatever reason? Not sure but it’s been pretty discouraging 🙁 please let me know if you have suggestions or insights!

        Posted 5.27.19 Reply
        • Hi Julia – it may be that seed cycling isn’t working for you or it may be better to try again in the next phase of your cycle with sesame seeds.

          Posted 5.29.19 Reply
  8. Susan wrote:

    Hi , have you continued with seed cycling post this ?

    Has there been a significant change in your hormonal acne acne ? I just started seed cycling . I am hoping for some positive results.

    Can you also clarify if I can just eat the seeds raw , I don’t like to take smoothies much .

    Posted 8.22.19 Reply
    • Hi Susan! Yes, I still seed cycle and it has had a positive effect on my acne. You can take the seed raw, you need to chew them well.

      Posted 9.5.19 Reply
  9. Michelle Hess wrote:

    A question about replacing the sunflower seeds with another tablespoon of sesame seeds. Is there not a property id sunflower seeds that is needed for this to be successful? I am doing this for menopause and mood, but my daughter will be starting to help regulate heavy periods and ovulation bleeding. She does break out just before her period so concern is that it could make it worse. I am thinking about having her skip the sunflower seeds for that reason. Just confirming that this doesn’t change it’s effectiveness? Thanks!

    Posted 4.28.20 Reply
    • Hi Michelle – it’s hard to say. The best thing to do is to experiment and see what works. This isn’t a definitive science, but will add nutrients that can support better hormone and menstrual health.

      Posted 4.29.20 Reply
  10. Li wrote:

    I have a lot of fluid retention during ovulation, and then again before/during my period. I think this is due to estrogen dominance, where my estrogen is “normal” but my progesterone levels are too low. Do you think it would be a good idea to just have seeds during ovulatory and luteal phases? (I.e. sunflower and sesame seeds – or just sesame seeds to avoid acne.) To not increase estrogen to much.
    Best regards

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
    • All of these seeds are helpful no matter where you are in your cycle – they will support ovulation to increase progesterone levels and reduce unhealthy forms of oestrogen.

      Posted 6.1.21 Reply
  11. Rosh wrote:

    Hi there! I came across seed cycling a month and a half ago. And start with pumpkin and flax seeds from day 1 to 15 of my period followed by Sunflower and sesame the next set of days. My period is delayed by 10 days and I’m not pregnant. Is seed cycling causing the delay in my period? And why? Thanks

    Posted 1.4.21 Reply
    • It’s unlikely that seed cycling will cause a delay in your period, but you should speak to your doctor to make sure!

      Posted 6.1.21 Reply