Avery Thomas

Having a period tends to be a fairly negative experience for most people. Beyond just the fact that you are bleeding for 3-7 days out of the month, the mood swings and physical symptoms associated with having a period can be unbearable for some, especially those who struggle with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Experiencing the physical and mental symptoms of the menstrual cycle can feel like a never-ending loop of Midol, heating pads, and antidepressants, along with days of missed school, work, and time with loved ones.

Alternative medicine practitioners believe that the key to a cycle with lessened symptoms and increased regularity could be seed cycling: the practice of consuming flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds during different phases of your menstrual cycle. This food-science based approach to a happier period is backed by the idea that adding these seeds to your diet will increase the density of nutrients you are consuming on a daily basis, thus helping to balance your hormone levels. Seed cycling is also supposed to be beneficial for people who are coming off of hormonal birth control, or people who are trying to get their period back after losing it.

The practice of seed cycling begins in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle, where you’ll incorporate 1-2 tablespoons of pumpkin and flax seeds into your diet on a daily basis. The follicular phase begins with menstruation and ends with ovulation; in other words, it’s roughly days 1-14 of your cycle. Pumpkin and flax seeds both have properties that help improve estrogen levels. The second phase of seed cycling starts in the luteal phase and also lasts 14 days. This phase begins with ovulation and then ends with the beginning of your period. Here, you’ll incorporate 1-2 tablespoons of sunflower and sesame seeds into your diet on a daily basis in order to boost progesterone production. Even if your menstrual cycle isn’t exactly 28 days, following the 2-week periods for seed cycling is completely fine. Ideally, it will help nudge your body in the right direction of getting your periods back on track.

Seed cycling (while beneficial) should be taken with a grain of salt. There is very little scientific research on the benefits of seed cycling. Seed cycling will not make your menstrual cycle worse, but as it stands, it is currently a wellness trend that lacks much scientific backing aside from the studies done by holistic health practitioners and nutritionists.

If you’re wondering the best way to incorporate 1-2 tablespoons of seeds into your diet per day, there are plenty of options. The seeds should ideally be ground before consumption, which makes them perfect to add to smoothies, soups, salads, or sprinkled on top of avocado toast. You can find these seeds at any grocery store, and there are also companies like Beeya Wellness that offer pre-made mixes for seed cycling.

Individual benefits will vary, but I can say that as a person who struggles with PMDD and painful periods, I have seen a noticeable reduction in mood swings and cramping since I began seed cycling several months ago. Try it, and let me know what you think!

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