What is Seed Cycling? + Seed Cycling Balls Recipe

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Seed cycling is an incredible food as medicine treatment to support hormone balancing. An incredible reminder of the power of food. I have been sharing my experiences with seed cycling on Instagram over this past month and so many of you have written to ask – What is Seed Cycling? Today I am sharing a brief introduction to seed cycling plus the simple Seed Cycling Balls recipe I have been using to make seed cycling a breeze.

What is Seed Cycling? + Seed Cycling Balls Recipe

What is Seed Cycling? + Seed Cycling Balls Recipe

As women, our hormones are a delicate symphony, influenced by far more factors than most people realize. From sleep to stress, the foods we eat, the products we are exposed to, medications and supplements and so much more. Our body’s natural rhythms and internal energies are unique to each of us and with the ebbs and flows of life, we can see shifts and imbalances and not always be clear on the whats and whys, but also where to even begin to adjust to get things back into our natural balance.

I have to admit, I am a tad embarrassed that I think it wasn’t until I was somewhere in my early 30s that I finally fully and truly understood my cycle, what the various phases were called, and what was happening when. Why isn’t this something we talk about more? Why can’t we just openly discuss our hormonal cycles and the natural rhythm for us, what to look for and what we should consider normal and what may be a sign of a deeper imbalance.

Because our cycle is this taboo topic for so many, still, many women just tolerate, endure and assume that things we are experiencing are just part of it and that we need to suck it up and just deal with it. Acne, moodiness, heavy cramping, irregular cycles, migraines and more, all things so many of us experience and chalk it us to “our time of the month”.

I spent MANY years on hormonal birth control, I think upwards of 13 years. I decided to transition off from birth control over 10 years ago at this point. It was a decision I made after speaking with a close family friend, a holistic chiropractor who worked closely with me on much of my health. I was sharing all of the ways in which I had chosen to change my diet, the foods I was avoiding and in a very loving and inquisitive way she asked:
“Can I ask why you are OK with taking hormonal birth control every day, despite taking so many other special considerations with your diet and your nutrition?” I remember saying “wait, what do you mean? My doctor said it is totally safe”, she went on to further explain that while I am choosing properly-raised animals, looking to avoid the hormones and chemicals often found in factory farmed meat, along with avoiding synthetic, processed foods, because they weren’t “natural”, every day I was then taking a pill, a pill that was comprised of synthetic lab-created hormones, hormones that were tricking my body’s natural system and hormones, it shuts down ovulation and tells the brain that there are enough hormones, so there is no need to make more and that it was likely causing unnecessary stress to my body. She suggested that maybe I might want to investigate and consider alternatives.

That’s all this little researcher and forever-learner needed to hear, I immediately started researching, reading and wanting to know more. Before my next cycle, I decided I no longer wanted to take hormonal birth control. And that was that.

I remember it being a VERY wild ride, I didn’t get off birth control and immediately have a normal 28 day cycle, in fact it was the contrary. I originally went onto hormonal birth control to regulate my cycle which was never normal or regular. I realize now how stupid it sounds to take a pill to force my body into menstruation on a schedule vs actually getting to the root cause of why my cycle was irregular in the first place.

I began tracking my cycle immediately and we chose to follow the Fertility Awareness Method. My cycle was erratic for many years after going off of the pill. Many years. Much of my most intense health and energy struggles happened in the years that followed. I wasn’t supporting my hormones in any way, I just recall thinking “I guess I have an irregular cycle, it’s always been this way”. I struggled with terrible pre-cycle migraines, pretty rough hormonal breakouts, brutal PMS symptoms and all the other fun stuff that comes with imbalanced hormones.

Healing My Body. Healing My Hormones.

Over the years, as I discovered an incurable autoimmune disease, as I worked to heal my gut and eradicate a parasite and pathogenic gut bacteria, I also leveled out my blood sugar and dealt with the adrenal imbalances that came as a result of all these things and like magic, my cycle and my hormones followed suit. As a nutritional therapist, when it comes to symptoms and dysfunction, we have what we refer to as the foundations and then the consequences. The foundations are digestion, blood sugar regulation, minerals, dietary fats and hydration. This is where we work, we adjust and create a customized approach, hormones fall into what we refer to as the consequences. We rarely recommend specific treatments, protocols or supplements for symptoms associated with consequences, as they generally will self-balance and regulate on their own, as the dysfunction in the foundations is managed and things come back into balance. That balance is found through nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle shifts. For me, I had that exact experience.

In the last two years, since I have seen a reduction in autoimmune flare ups and my foundations have been in balance, I have seen the most regular cycles I have ever seen in my life and minimal hormonal symptoms. But stress and travel will almost always cause issue with my cycle and my hormones. After a busy start to 2019, including MANY trips which is always stressful for my body, along with a few minor digestive flare ups, including a food poisoning incident in Mexico, I found myself with a few common hormonal imbalance symptoms, including a cycle that was ranging from 23 days to 34, occasional pre-cycle migraines and a pre-menstrual chin zits. Classic hormone location for breakouts.

I Tried Seed Cycling

I decided I would give seed cycling a go. I would give it at least a month, then re-assess. After just one month of daily seed cycling, my first menstrual cycle was exactly 28 days. The first time since July of 2018, I had exactly NO chin breakouts and no pre-cycle headaches, cramps were nearly non-existent and bleeding went from 5+ to just 3.5 days. I know much of that is due in large part to NO travel in the last month, my nutrition and eating was far more my usual, since I was home and my stress was minimal. But I also know that the seed cycling was the only other variable in there and it had been at least 6 months of these pre-cycle breakouts. So for now, I am sticking with it for as long as it is working for me.

 

What is Seed Cycling? + Seed Cycling Balls Recipe

What is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling for hormone balance is not a new practice, but it’s certainly been getting more attention in recent years.

Seed cycling provides specific nutrients to help build your hormones and it integrates different seeds into the diet at different times in the menstrual cycle to support optimal hormonal balance.1Jesswein, L. (2012). Seed Cycling for Natural Hormonal Balance. Retrieved from http://naturalhealthperspectives.blogspot.com/2012/02/seed-cycling-for-natural-hormonal.html The concept is that seeds carry certain oils, vitamins, and nutrients that can help support the body’s production, release, and metabolism of hormones. The seeds used in seed rotation are flax and pumpkin seeds and sesame and sunflower seeds.

According to Dr Jolene Brighten seed cycling can be used at any stage in a woman’s life, but it can be especially beneficial when coming off of hormonal birth control or struggling with post-birth control syndrome symptoms like acne, irregular periods, or new onset of PMS.

To practice seed cycling you need to be tracking your menstual cycle as you will change the seeds to correspond with the phase you are in.

What is Seed Cycling? + Seed Cycling Balls Recipe

How to Seed Cycle:

Seed cycling follows the follicular and the luteal phases of the cycle. Follicular starts on day 1 of your menstrual cycle, when you begin to bleed. The luteal phase begins with ovulation and continues until you begin menstruation again. For some women ovulation occurs on or around day 14 or 15. But some women ovulate sooner or later than that.

Some women have a cycle that is shorter or longer than 28 days. So you will want to know your body’s natural rhythm and know the signs.

Days 1 to 14 (or when ovulation ends)

Menstrual and Follicular Phases – This is the day when menstruation begins, you begin bleeding until ovulation begins

Day 1 is the first day of menstrual bleeding. Beginning with the first day of your cycle, consume 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds each day. These work to support estrogen production and metabolism and it is a great way to balance estrogen, which is important during the follicular phase as estrogen levels are rising.2https://drbrighten.com/seed-cycling-for-hormone-balance/ The first phase of your cycle is marked by increased estrogen.

 

Days 15 to 28-30 (or when menstruation begins)

Ovulatory and Luteal Phases – following ovulation until menstruation begins

Following ovulation, which day this is can vary for each woman, switch to consuming 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground sesame seeds and sunflower seeds each day. This is gnerally on day 15 of the cycle. If you are tracking your ovulation, you will switch the day following ovulation.  Sunflower and sesame seeds support progesterone levels, which is the key hormone during the luteal phase (the phase following ovulation until your next period). 3https://drbrighten.com/seed-cycling-for-hormone-balance/ The second phase of your cycle is marked by decreased estrogen and increased progesterone.

 

Can Pre and Post Menopausal Women Use Seed Cycling?

If you do not have a cycle either because you are not menstruating or because you have entered peri-menopause, menopause and you are in post-menopause, seed rotation can still help. Please check out this post from Dr. Jolene Brighten to learn more.

 

What is Seed Cycling? + Seed Cycling Balls Recipe

How to Eat the Seeds:

You can add your seeds to salads, smoothies, yogurt or smoothie bowls, chia seed pudding, homemade trail mix or granola, you can make a pumpkin and flax seed pesto, or make tahini with sesame seeds and serve on a salad with sunflower seeds OR make these seed cycling balls that are pre-portioned and ready for you, every day. I make them one cycle at a time, so I will make the phase 1 balls. It makes 16. I eat one seed cycling ball a day, at the same time of day. I keep enough for a week in the fridge and I keep the second week in the freezer. When I am ready for them, I pull them out of the freezer to the fridge. I will make the phase 2 balls, as soon as I need them, so they are fresh and then I do the same. You could make the phase 1 and phase 2 balls all at once and just freeze the phase you aren’t ready for, labeling them appropriately. That’s up to you.

Seed Cycling Balls:

I started out seed cycling and trying to freshly grind the seeds each day and add them to my food, it wasn’t an easy task. I would forget, I would put it off, it was really hard to build a habit around this practice, since to be honest there were just some days it didn’t fit in with the food I was eating, so I thought up the idea to create pre-portioned seed cycling balls, that I would perfectly measure out enough of the seeds and divide it up over the correct amount of balls to get the proper “dose” each day by simply eating one ball. For me, I have found this to be a very effective method and very, very easy to be compliant with. This is just one option.

I make enough for two weeks at a time, as you can see below, to cover each full phase. If you’d like, you can half the recipe and make basically one week at a time.

What You Need to Know

  • Grind your seeds! This will help your body digest them, this is especially flax seeds, which can simply pass right through you intact if left whole. For pumpkin, sesame and sunflower, you can just consume them raw on salads and on other dishes, but you will want to be sure you are chewing them adequately. This is why I prefer to just grind as needed and make these balls.
  • It is advised you work alongside your physician or health care provider to be certain there aren’t more serious underlying reasons for your symptoms or imbalances.
  • Use raw seeds. (I have been buying Terrasoul brand organic and raw seeds on Amazon) Soaking and sprouting seeds will even further maximize their potential benefits and the body’s ability to digest them, but it is a lot of extra work. You have to soak them, sprout, dehydrate and THEN you can grind them, grinding soaked seeds will create a paste, not a powder.
  • Use organic seeds if possible, to minimize any potential hormonal disruptors in agricultural chemicals.
  • Store leftover seeds and your seed balls in the refrigerator or freezer. Seeds are comprised of polyunsaturated fats, which are highly susceptible to oxidation and going rancid.
  • I recommend keeping a journal to track and note your symptoms through your seed cycling experience. It is said that for many benefits of seed cycling can take about three months.
  • If you are struggling with digestive issues and seeds are triggering for your gut symptoms, I do not advise seed cycling, the stress the digestive dysfunction could cause your body and your hormones, would be counterproductive to what you are hoping to accomplish with the seed cycling.
  • Be sure you are also prioritizing good sleep, managing your stress, eating well and staying hydrated and limiting your exposure to potential hormone disrupting toxins.

What is Seed Cycling? + Seed Cycling Balls Recipe

 

5 from 1 reviews
Seed Cycling Balls Phase One - Days 1 - 14
 
gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, dairy-free, nightshade free, paleo, keto-friendly, vegan, nut-free option
Serves: 16 balls
Ingredients
  • 1 cup freshly ground organic raw flaxseeds
  • 1 cup freshly ground organic raw pumpkin seeds
  • ¾ cup almond butter (cashew or peanut or sub any other nut or seed butter)
  • 3 tablespoons softened ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 medjool date (or sub honey or maple syrup)
  • ¼ cup clean high-quality vanilla protein powder or grass-fed collagen powder*
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1- 3 tablespoons of water, only as needed

optional add-ins:
  • add ¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips, cacao nibs or dried cranberries
  • ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, , etc
Instructions
  1. In a small spice grinder or a high speed blender like a Vitamin, grind the pumpkin and flax seeds into a fine flour (a few larger pieces are OK). You will likely need between ¾ and 1 cup of each seed. You are looking for 1 cup of each, once ground into a flour.
  2. Transfer one cup of each seed flour to the bowl of your food processor.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, leaving out the water and chocolate chips, cacao nibs or cranberries if you are adding and process until a big dough ball forms. Wait to add the water, add one tablespoon at a time as needed, you may not need any.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips, cacao nib or cranberries by hand.
  5. Line a plate or small baking sheet with parchment paper and roll the dough into 16 equal sized balls.
  6. Place the balls on the lined plate and place into the fridge to firm up.
  7. Eat one ball every day.
  8. Store the balls in the fridge or the freezer.
Notes
I use a 100% grass fed beef isolate protein powder - this is my preferred brand.

You can also use a a plant based protein powder.

If you don't have a protein powder, you can use 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds and 2 tablespoons ground hemp hearts (or ¼ cup of one of those seeds ground up)

I make enough for two weeks at a time to cover the full phase (plus two extra, in case things shift). If you'd like, you can half the recipe and make basically one week at a time.
 

 

5 from 1 reviews
Seed Cycling Balls Phase Two - Days 15 - 28
 
gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, dairy-free, nightshade free, paleo, keto-friendly, vegan, nut-free option
Serves: 16 balls
Ingredients
  • 1 cup freshly ground organic raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup freshly ground organic raw sesame seeds
  • ¾ cup almond butter (cashew or peanut or sub any other nut or seed butter)
  • 3 tablespoons softened ghee or melted coconut oil
  • 1 medjool date (or sub honey or maple syrup)
  • ¼ cup clean high-quality vanilla protein powder or grass-fed collagen powder*
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • pinch of sea salt

optional add-ins:
  • add ¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips, cacao nibs or dried cranberries
  • ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, etc
Instructions
  1. In a small spice grinder or a high speed blender like a Vitamin, grind the pumpkin and flax seeds into a fine flour (a few larger pieces are OK). You will likely need between ¾ and 1 cup of each seed. You are looking for 1 cup of each, once ground into a flour.
  2. Transfer one cup of each seed flour to the bowl of your food processor.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, leaving out the water and chocolate chips, cacao nibs or cranberries if you are adding and process until a big dough ball forms. Wait to add the water, add one tablespoon at a time as needed, you may not need any.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips, cacao nib or cranberries by hand.
  5. Line a plate or small baking sheet with parchment paper and roll the dough into 16 equal sized balls.
  6. Place the balls on the lined plate and place into the fridge to firm up.
  7. Eat one ball every day.
  8. Store the balls in the fridge or the freezer.
Notes
I use a 100% grass fed beef isolate protein powder - this is my preferred brand.

You can also use a a plant based protein powder.

If you don't have a protein powder, you can use 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds and 2 tablespoons ground hemp hearts (or ¼ cup of one of those seeds, ground)

I make enough for two weeks at a time to cover the full phase (plus two extra, in case things shift). If you'd like, you can half the recipe and make basically one week at a time.
 

PLEASE NOTE: different nut butter may produce different results. If your nut butter is super liquidy, it may make for a softer dough that is harder to roll. It your dough is too soft, try adding a small amount of coconut flour or even more protein powder, then placing the dough in the fridge to firm up, before you scoop or roll.

Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance

Symptoms of hormone imbalance can present in a variety of ways.

  • irregular menstrual cycle
  • heavy or painful periods
  • acne
  • PMS
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • weight gain
  • inability to lose weight
  • changes to hair, including hair loss
  • skin and nails
  • inability to sleep
  • fatigue
  • afternoon energy crashes

These are just some of the more common symptoms. Read more about hormonal imbalances here.

What are Some of the Causes of Hormone Imbalances?

Will Seed Cycling Fix My Cycle?

It depends. Hormones are a complicated and delicate symphony. It is rarely a simple shift or a fix (see above where I talk about consequences) and sometimes hormonal imbalances can be due to a myriad of foundational imbalances. At the very least, seed cycling can provide the body with specific nutrients to support and build hormones. Please be sure to read this post: The First Step to Happy Hormones

How Long Does it Take?

You want to give it at least one full cycle to see if you notice any changes, but according to Dr Jolene Brighten, it can take at least 3 cycles for some women to see changes or shifts. Remember hormone imbalances can also be a result of digestive issues, blood sugar imbalances, stress, a lack of dietary fat and protein, etc. So you can’t seed cycle while you aren’t managing your stress, eating a bunch of garbage and never sleeping and hope to see favorable changes.

Dr. Jolene Brighten also encourages her patients to make seed cycling a life long practice, it’s safe and gentle enough to do all the time, it’s a really simple tool for supporting health hormone balance.

 

Additional Resources: 

Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance by Dr. Jolene Brighten

Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten

Menstruation: The Sacred Cycle: Redefining our menstrual cycle and PMS, a must-read article by Gina Cloud

 

References   [ + ]

1.Jesswein, L. (2012). Seed Cycling for Natural Hormonal Balance. Retrieved from http://naturalhealthperspectives.blogspot.com/2012/02/seed-cycling-for-natural-hormonal.html
2, 3.https://drbrighten.com/seed-cycling-for-hormone-balance/
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3 Responses

  1. Hal says:

    This is something very useful and added a lot to my knowledge bank. Great read!!!

  2. Emily says:

    Can you use collagen in place of a protein powder?

    • Beth @ Tasty Yummies says:

      EMILY!! This is a brilliant idea, I didn’t even think of this. Yes, I think that would be a great substitution. I am going to add it to the notes now, thank you!

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