Seed cycling with the moon is a holistic practice that has been used for centuries. More recently, it is gaining increased interest and popularity. And with no surprise given the rise in women struggling with hormonal imbalances. Believed to help regulate hormonal levels in women (specifically estrogen and progesterone), seed cycling is done by incorporating different seeds alongside the phases of the menstrual cycle which coincide with the phases of the moon.
This might lead you to wonder, how does it work? And could seed cycling benefit me? Here we’ll dive into the science behind seed cycling with the moon and how to optimize your hormonal health and fertility.
What is Seed Cycling With The Moon?
Simply put, seed cycling with the moon is a way for women to rotate eating various seeds alongside the phases of the moon to mimic the phases of the menstrual cycle.
This practice is thought to help balance hormone production in the body, which can aid women’s menstrual and hormonal health, and ultimately fertility!
Why Start Seed Cycling With The Moon?
An imbalance of hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, can contribute to hormonal irregularities within the body. These irregularities show up as symptoms such as:
- short luteal phase
Seed cycling with the moon is a useful practice for women who experience irregular menstrual cycles. Newsflash, there are a lot of us out there! You are not alone.
Seed cycling is also useful for women with regular cycles looking to balance hormonal health and promote fertility.
Many factors including stress, exercise, and yes, even diet, can alter and impact your cycle. Which is why it’s important to discuss how we can optimize our hormonal needs as women. Incorporating seed cycling into your diet can help balance a woman’s hormones, decrease PMS symptoms, and optimize overall fertility.
Before we dive into the science behind seed cycling with the moon, let’s first review the basics of the menstrual cycle and the phases of the moon.
Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
There are four main phases that occur within a woman’s menstrual cycle:
- Menstrual Phase
- Follicular Phase
- Luteal Phase
1. Menstrual Phase
The first phase is menstruation. Menstruation is when your period comes as a result of an egg not being fertilized and your uterine lining, which is built up during the follicular phase, sheds.
On average, menstruation typically lasts between 3-7 days for most women, however, this can vary. During these days, estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest.
2. Follicular Phase
The second phase is the follicular phase. During the follicular phase, follicle stimulating hormone is released and stimulates your ovaries to produce follicles. Estrogen starts to rise to build up your uterine lining as egg maturation begins.
The follicular phase begins at the start of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and ends when you ovulate – typically days 1 to 14. However, it can last between 11 – 27 days depending on the length of your cycle. Note there is some overlap with menstruation.
Right in the middle of your cycle is the third phase, ovulation. Estrogen levels peak, and luteinizing hormone is released to signal the release of a mature egg.
Lasting about 24 – 36 hours, this is the time during your cycle when you can get pregnant. The egg dissolves if not fertilized. Typically ovulation occurs on day 14 of a 28 day cycle, but may occur earlier or later depending on the length of your cycle.
4. Luteal Phase
After ovulation you’ll have the fourth phase, the luteal phase. The luteal phase begins after ovulation – days 15 to 28*. During this phase the corpus luteum is formed and progesterone levels rise as estrogen levels begin to fall.
*It’s important to also note that although 28 days is the average, most women do not experience a consistent cycle like this. Shocker! Most women experience a cycle anywhere between 21 to 35 days. Your cycle is unique to you and your body.
Phases of the Moon
Similar to the phases of the menstrual cycle, the phases of the moon cycle about every 28 days. The phases of the moon include:
- New Moon
- Waxing Crescent
- First Quarter
- Waxing Gibbous
- Full Moon
- Waning Gibbous
- Last Quarter
- Waning Crescent
The new moon is the first phase and is when the moon is invisible to us because the moon sits between the earth and the sun.
Waxing Moon: Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous
During the waxing phases the moon is gradually getting brighter and is more illuminated and visible as it goes from a waxing crescent, first quarter, to waxing gibbous.
The full moon occurs approximately two weeks after the new moon (do you see another similarity here with ovulation occurring approximately two weeks after your first day of menstruation?!). During this time, the moon is fully illuminated and visible from the earth.
Waning Moon: Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, Waning Crescent
During the waning phases, the brightness of the moon gradually diminishes. The visibility of the moon grows smaller as it transitions from waning gibbous, last quarter, to waning crescent. And then cycles back to a new moon.
The Moon and The Menstrual Cycle: How They Coincide
As seen above there are many similarities between the phases of the menstrual cycle and phases of the moon.
The moon phases align with the general follicular and luteal phases of menstruation and ovulation. The follicular phase aligns with the new moon and the luteal phase aligns with the full moon, with ovulation occurring around the full moon, or mid-way through the cycle.
You might be thinking, this “cycling with the moon” thing sounds crazy. It’s just a myth, or maybe you’re thinking it’s a bit too unconventional. However, there are studies that support menstruation cycling alongside phases of the moon! Many cultures associate the moon with fertility too.
How Seed Cycling With The Moon Can Optimize Your Hormonal Health
Though the “normal” menstrual cycle occurs within a 28 day period, most women tend to experience a cycle anywhere from every 21 to 35 days. This is normal!
However, when progesterone or estrogen levels are imbalanced, you may experience PMS symptoms such as:
- menstrual cramps
- shorter luteal phases
- anovulation (lack of ovulation)
- irregular cycles
Seeds like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds and sunflower seeds contain nutrients such as phytochemicals that can bring balance back to your cycle.
Phytochemicals naturally impact hormonal health directly. Some of the phytochemicals we’ll discuss further include phytoestrogens and lignans.
For women with irregular cycles, incorporating pumpkin seeds and flax seeds during the first day of the new moon can help bring estrogen levels to an optimal range and mimic that of the follicular phase.
Then, when the new moon transitions to the full moon, switching to sesame seeds and sunflower seeds can help to increase progesterone levels and slowly bring estrogen levels down in the body.
Ready to dive into the science behind it all?!
The Science Behind Seed Cycling With The Moon and Your Fertility
Pumpkin and flax seeds both contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to increased fertility, and reduced ovulatory dysfunction.
One study found that an increased consumption of sources of omega-3 coincide with higher levels of progesterone during the luteal phase of menstruation (promoting pregnancy). The same study also had a 58% reduced risk of anovulation (infertility).
If you haven’t heard of the Mediterranean diet, it’s simply a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and most notably, nuts and seeds!
One study conducted on 244 women undergoing IVF treatment found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with higher rates of IVF success.
This is not to say that diet alone can cure infertility. Simply put, notable nutrient sources found in nuts and seeds can aid in overall hormonal balance. Increased hormonal health is an optimal goal when trying to conceive, and though it won’t directly be the reason you get pregnant, it can’t hurt to incorporate seeds into your daily routine.
A Deeper Dive Into The Nutritional Components of Seed Cycling With The Moon and Why They Are Important
Pumpkin and flax seeds both contain chemicals called phytoestrogens. These plant-derived chemicals exhibit a weak estrogen-like effect in the body when consumed.
Sesame and sunflower seeds contain chemicals called lignans that also exhibit weak estrogenic activity, but have been found to also bind up excess estrogen.
Overall, diets rich in phytoestrogens, such as lignans, are associated with reduced risk of various hormone dependent cancers and/or certain hormonal irregularities.
A small study conducted on 18 normally cycling women found that flax seed consumption was associated with a longer luteal phase by increasing the progesterone/estrogen ratio significantly. This effect could prove to be beneficial in ovulation and potentially reduce the risk of breast and other hormonally dependent cancers.
Sesame seed consumption has mainly been studied in post-menopausal women, however, results suggest that sesame seeds exhibit phytoestrogen properties as well.
Lignans are another plant-derived compound that can support your cycle. Flaxseeds are the richest source of lignans and are well-respected as a functional food (foods that have a positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition).
Flaxseed lignan behavior is dependent on the already existing levels of estrogen in the body. At normal levels of estrogen, flaxseed lignans reduce estrogen. At lower levels, flaxseed lignans can bind excess estrogen. This can help the luteal phase by binding any excess estrogen in the body during the second phase of your cycle.
Sesame seeds also contain lignans. Research shows that sesame seeds are beneficial for postmenopausal women (women with low levels of estrogen) by improving blood lipids, antioxidants, and sex hormones.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are both rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids promote blood flow, help to maintain healthy cell membranes, and increase progesterone excretion, all of which could promote healthy menstruation and ovulation.
In a preconception cohort study omega-3 fatty acid intake was associated with fecundability (the ability to conceive in a given month). In the same study, women consuming diets high in trans-fat and low in omega-3 had reduced fecundity (the ability to produce abundant offspring; fertility).
Overall Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with an increased likelihood of conceiving in a given menstrual cycle, reduced likelihood of ovulatory dysfunction, and a reduced likelihood of endometriosis.
Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds both are rich in the mineral zinc. Zinc improves the production of progesterone and aids in ovulation.
Zinc deficiency has been linked to defects in the follicular phase of menstruation. This can prevent maturation, expansion, and ovulation of the uterine lining.
Sunflower seeds contain the mineral selenium, and they contain a lot of it! Selenium can support estrogen detoxification which helps to reduce excess estrogen during the luteal phase.
How To Implement Seed Cycling With The Moon
If you have an abnormal cycle length and wish to promote syncing your cycle with the moon, aim to consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of the specific paired seeds mentioned below everyday in tune with the phases of the moon.
Seed Cycling with The Moon: Follicular Phase, New Moon – Full Moon
On the first day of the new moon: incorporate 1 to 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and flax seeds into your daily routine for 14 days. These seeds help to enhance or maintain good estrogen levels throughout your cycle.
Seed Cycling with The Moon: Luteal Phase, Full Moon – New Moon
Once the moon transitions to a full moon: incorporate 1 to 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds daily. These seeds enhance progesterone release and have properties that can bind and remove excess estrogen.
Overtime, you could find that your cycle becomes more regular, you may experience less PMS symptoms, which can overall alleviate some of the not-so-fun symptoms that come with your menstrual cycle.
This also can aid in resolving amenorrhea, anovulation, possibly reduce endometriosis symptoms, and boost fertility!
For those with regular cycle lengths (21 – 35 days) and who are tracking ovulation, pair your seed consumption with the phases of your cycle directly.
How Long Does It Take To Notice Results After Implementing Seed Cycling With the Moon?
This approach is not an exact science, many factors will determine if seed cycling with the moon is the right approach for you.
That being said, seed cycling with the moon takes time to work inside your body to promote a healthy hormone balance. It can take anywhere between 90 days (roughly 3 months) before you start noticing benefits.
To make it an even more intuitive experience, I suggest keeping a journal to track your progress, seed consumption, and symptoms/phases of your cycle. This will help keep track of your cycle and any symptoms you experience during transitions. Not only that, it can help you be cognizant of shifts happening over the course of your seed cycling journey.
Tips and Tricks To Incorporating Seed Cycling With The Moon
Buy What Works Within Your Budget
Seed cycling can be an expensive practice. Raw and organic seeds are great, however, are not required to reap the benefits.
Some sources recommend that raw seeds are best. However, a study found that the benefits of the lignin compounds found in (specifically) flaxseeds was dependent on time and dose of consumption, not on the processing of the seeds.
It is best to incorporate seed cycling altogether, then not at all!
Grind Your Seeds
Use a coffee grinder, or blender, to grind your seeds, especially the flax and sesame seeds!
This not only can make it easier to portion out 1 to 2 tablespoons of the seed combo daily, but it can also make it easier to store!
If you cannot grind your own seeds, that’s okay too. Simply make sure to buy already ground flaxseeds. Your body cannot break down and absorb flaxseeds when whole.
Grind each seed either separate or together and mix and store in a jar. This minimizes the daily prep and optimizes your time.
Store Your Seeds in The Refrigerator or Freezer
Seeds contain polyunsaturated fats that can oxidize and go rancid quickly, especially when left in sunlight.
Once you’ve put together your seed cycling blend(s), store your seeds in a cool, dark place. You can store it in the fridge or freezer to maintain freshness.
Invest in a journal! Or if you prefer digital, track your cycle utilizing your preferred software, app or device.
Keep tabs on each phase of your cycle, your symptoms, and consumption of the seeds to stay on track!
This can help you stay on schedule with the moon phases, notice your own unique cycle, and can make you more cognizant and aware of changes that indicate seed cycling is working for you. It can also help you tailor seed cycling to your own cycle when you notice regularity start to emerge.
If you’re trying to conceive, it can be very useful to note when you’re most fertile, and help you recognize when it may be time to take a test. Use ovulation strips like those found on my resource page. The benefits are endless!
Some Ways to Incorporate Seeds Into Your Daily Routine
- Add seeds to smoothies, yogurt bowls, oatmeal, chia pudding, or sprinkle on avocado toast
- Make your own seed butter to add into oatmeal, smoothies, or spread on a whole grain bagel or toast
- Add into granola or cereal
- Make muffins, energy balls, or breakfast cookies
Lunch or Dinner:
- Add to buddha bowls, salads, or soups
- Mix into pesto or other sauces and dressings
- Make your own seed butter to spread on whole grain bread as a sandwich
- Short on time? You can buy ready-made mixed nut and seed butters (my favorite is from Costco)
- Add into fruit salads
- Sprinkle on ice cream
- Add into muffins, cookies, breads, and other baked goods
- Make a seed friendly chocolate bark
Looking for More Support in Seed Cycling with The Moon to Optimize Your Hormones and Fuel Your Fertility?
Are you looking for more guidance on optimizing your hormones and fueling your fertility?
– you just came off of birth control and are looking to tune into your natural cycle
– have an irregular cycle and are looking to regulate your period
– or, are actively trying to conceive and wanting to optimize your fertility
you are in the right place!
Check out my Guide to Fuel Your Fertility and Optimize Your Hormonal Health – Now Available!
In this guide we’ll dive into foods to include to fuel your fertility, a list of what to keep in stock in your kitchen, a quick look at supplements for conception, and seed cycling to optimize hormonal health. Complete with meal plans to support your hormones in the follicular and luteal phases plus 20 bonus fertility fueling snack recipes to incorporate into your day!
“Seed Cycling with the Moon to Optimize Hormonal Health” is written by Samantha Sycalik and reviewed/edited by Jamie Adams, MS RD LDN. Sam is a current Senior undergraduate student at the University of Maryland studying Dietetics and exhibits a special interest in infant and maternal health.