The Seed Cycling Diet: How to Regulate Your Menstrual Cycle and Increase Progesterone with Food

seed rotation diet

Not often do we read about food helping hormonal imbalances. In fact, when we hear the word “hormonal problems”, we are conditioned to think of solutions going no further than birth control pills, hormone creams and pallots.

Supporting the old mantra of “food is your medicine,” this article shows how seeds can help regulate and support our menstrual cycle.

The technique is called “seed rotation.” The seed rotation diet can be used to boost our estrogen levels in the first part of our cycle and progesterone levels in the second part. This technique can be used by anyone who is either having irregular periods, periods that are heavy, experiencing heavy PMS and even women going through peri-menopause and menopause.

The technique described here is based on a 30-day cycle, though most women’s cycle tends to be between 25 to 36 days. Only 10 to 15% of women have cycles that are exactly 28 to 30 days. Day 1 is counted as the first day of a period.

As an example, this article is based on a 30-day cycle.

Which Seeds to Use in What Part of the Cycle?

Seed rotation

From Day 1 to Day 15 (or the middle of your cycle), we need more estrogen in order to build up our endometrium (uterus lining). This is called the follicular phase. With seeds such as flaxseed and pumpkin seeds, we can naturally increase our estrogen levels.

On Day 15 to Day 30, or the second part of the cycle also known as the luteal phase, we see the corpus luteum releasing progesterone. This sex hormone will help thicken the uterus lining and get it ready for implantation.

The high content of zinc found in sesame seeds and vitamin E in sunflower seeds have shown to stimulate progesterone production (see references below). By adding two tablespoons of sesame and sunflower seeds per day in the luteal phase, we can naturally support the body to produce more progesterone (many women are low in this sex hormone).

Click here to download the Seed Rotation Guide that illustrates this method.

What Does a Balanced Cycle Look Like?

Of course, being regular is one thing, but there is more. So many of us are accustomed to feeling terrible before our period (and some women in the mid-cycle or during ovulation as well) that we assume it is “normal.” It is not.

High estrogen (or estrogen metabolites) can be the cause of tender breasts, mood swings, hair loss, weight gain, fibroids, endometriosis, breast and ovarian cysts and even breast and ovarian cancer.

Low progesterone levels can manifest in ways similar to the above (high estrogen) and also: feeling anxious, not being able to fall or stay asleep and menstrual headaches.

Rebalancing your cycle using food

Rebalancing your cycle using a simple and food-based technique like the seed rotation diet can help alleviate many of the symptoms in a matter of a few months.

In a perfectly healthy woman, the menstrual cycle and the estrogen/progesterone production will happen naturally with no help or intervention.

This is unfortunately not the case for many women today. Excessive stress (with excessive cortisol release), environmental toxicity, poor diet, food sensitivities, digestive issues, high coffee or alcohol consumption – can contribute to irregular or painful periods and even infertility.

Supporting the body with food that will help produce sufficient amount of estrogen and progesterone is not only easy and cheap but also non-invasive. This is why this form of healing is preferred by practitioners who work with food as medicine – this method simply works.

Why Add More Estrogens to Our Diet?

Many women worry that they are already experiencing estrogen dominance, so why add more estrogen in the form of phytoestrogens such as the flaxseed?

understanding estrogen

For this to be fully understood, we first need to establish that not all estrogens are “bad” and the one that tends to be high in estrogen-dominant women is estradiol, also known as E2. Excessive levels of E2 have been linked to breast and prostate cancer.

Here is a fascinating data point: flaxseed does not only suppress estradiol production but it also nudges estradiol metabolism into a positive direction by generating a higher ratio of the protective metabolite 2-hydroxy-estrone versus the more harmful 16-hydroxy-estrone.

Easy Ways of Adding Seed Rotation to Your Diet

One way to incorporate seed rotation on a regular basis is by making snacks out of seed crackers. They store well for a few weeks, are easy to make and come in super handy as travel food.

Take a look at the below recipes: estrogen-boosting and progesterone-boosting crackers.

Estrogen-Boosting Crackers [oven method]


Two tablespoons of flaxseed or pumpkin seeds per day have shown to help boost estrogen production. Pumpkin seeds are also known to be phytoestrogenic.

This can be equally valuable for menstruating women in the first part of the cycle (day 1 to 15, refer to the chart) as well as women going through peri- and menopause who would benefit from an estrogen boost.

This recipe is using an oven. If you have a dehydrator, feel free too use it and set it to 115F for 8 hours.

Time to prepare: 20 minutes
Time to soak: 12 hours
Time to bake: 6 hours
Serves: 20 servings
Equipment: thermometer, parchment paper and 18’ x 13’ baking tray


1 cup almonds
1 cup flaxseed
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried apples, roughly chopped
1 cup roasted coconut flakes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sea salt


  • Soak almonds for 12 hours.
  • Soak flaxseed and pumpkin seeds in 3 cups of water for 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 150F or the lowest temperature your oven allows. The trick to keeping the temperature low (ideally in the range of 120 to 150F) is to leave the oven door ajar. This will prevent the crackers from burning and will create air circulation to dry the crackers.
  • Strain all the excess water from the almonds and combine with all the remaining ingredients. Toss to mix them well.
  • Line the baking tray with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly.
  • Bake for 6 hours or until fully dried. It’s recommended to check your crackers regularly using the thermometer to be sure they are getting dried but not burned. If the oven gets too hot, just open the oven door slightly wider. I use a metal tool (like a can opener) to keep the oven door ajar. The second batch will be easier to make as you will know how to keep the oven temperature in the 120-150F range.
  • These crackers store well for two weeks in an air-tight container.

Progesterone-Boosting Crackers [dehydrator method]

This cracker is an ideal daily snack for women in the luteal phase (second part of the menstrual cycle which is about day 15 to 30) when progesterone production is essential to feeling healthy and calm.

These crackers help mitigate PMS which can often be caused by excessive estrogen as compared to progesterone levels.

Time to prepare: 20 minutes
Time to soak: 12 hours
Time to dehydrate: 8 hours
Serves: 20 servings
Equipment: dehydrator and parchment paper.


1 cup almonds
¾ cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup chia seeds
¾ cup goji berries
½ cup pomegranate syrup (you can get it from Middle Eastern stores, Wholefoods or Amazon)
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
½ teaspoon sea salt


  • Soak almonds for 12 hours.
  • Soak sunflower and sesame seeds for 4 hours.
  • Soak chia seeds in 2 warm cups of water for 3-4 hours in a In a separate bowl.
  • Strain all the excess water from the almonds and combine with in all the remaining ingredients. Toss to mix them well.
  • Line the dehydrator trays with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly to 1/3 of an inch in thickness.
  • Set the dehydrator to 115F, for 8 hours.

These crackers store well for two weeks in an air-tight container.

As you can see, food can also be used to rebalance our hormonal health and help us feel balanced and nourished. Hormonal imbalances in women are often times the underlying cause of weight struggles, depression, anxiety, infertility, miscarriages, hair loss and more.

About the Author

This article was contributed by Magdalena Wszelaki, a nutritional coach, hormone specialist and a chef. She has a long history of hormonal challenges herself; from Hashimoto’s, adrenal exhaustion to estrogen dominance. She is in a full remission today and lives a symptoms-free life.

Click Here to Learn More About What Magdalena Does

Have you worked with seed cycling? Share your experience in the comments!

European Society of Endocrinology
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
Journal of Steroid Biochemistry
Nutrition and Cancer, Taylor Francis Group
European Journal of Gynecology and Reproductive Biology

comments (19 and counting)


Reader Interactions


  1. Tasha L. says

    So, the seed rotation charts I’ve seen talk about flax & pumpkin together, and then sesame & sunflower together, but which part of the cycle would chia seeds be included in? Do they have a similar effect to other seeds? Also, how does soaking the seeds affect their effect on the body?

  2. Samira says

    I’m current on Nuvaring as a birth control. I have PMS (migraines and mood swings).
    Can I do the seed rotation while using a birth control?

  3. Jennifer says

    This is a great article. My naturopathic doctor has me on a similar regimen every month. It has done wonders for my cramps. They were unbearable. The closer I follow this cycle the better my period is, for me and everyone around me.

  4. Denise Pouchet says

    Are there other foods to replace flax? High allergy to it. T6 brain cell to be specific. Dealing with two neurological/neuromuscular diseases and want to balance my cycle. Thank you.

    • Sonia Gomez says

      Instead of take 1 tbsp of flat seeds and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds you can take 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds to replace the flaxseeds

  5. Erica says

    What a bout young women with very low estrogen, that really needs the strong estrogen in the body to produce more! I guess I can not eat flaxseed, pumpkinseed or anything that´s actually healthy, because it supress estrogen production.

    I am reading every day, searching for what to eat and what to do, but all information is so confliicting.

    I would be so happy if you answered me 🙂

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      Hi Erica,

      To help regulate your cycle naturally, I would suggest seeing an herbalist or a naturopath that specialize in hormones. Hormones are very complicated and yes, the information you find can be conflicting because every body is different and everyone needs something a little bit different.

    • monika says

      Aside from seeing a naturopath – which is key – try these things:
      1) Day 1-15 drink ORGANIC soy milk, eat organic soy…and use phytoestrogens to help boost estrogen. Do NOT overdo the soy though! It’s not the healthiest of foods.
      2) Paleoforwomen blog is a GREAT place to start actually. Focus on balanced macronutrients and HEALTHY whole foods…
      3) Have you considered Maca?
      4) Low estrogen can and in your case be linked to low weight. Body needs FAT to produce estrogen.
      5) Are you exercising too much? Maybe you need REST.
      6) Eat foods high in fat (saturated) and cholesterol. CHolesterol is responsible for sex hormone production

  6. shalini says

    I wanted to know that when we take Flax seeds in the first 15 days, and leave in the next 15 days, then are we not supposed to take any form of Omega 3 in the later part?


  7. Liz says

    To Jerri (can’t reply directly to your comment for some reason):

    I experience the same thing when I eat flax. (And bananas). I don’t know what would EXPLAIN it, per se, but I’ve always just chalked it up to having a sensitivity to it. I can consume in small doses (2TB or so per week) without consequence, but in that small amount, I don’t believe too much benefit can be reaped, if any at all.

    Sorry I can’t be more help, but I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t the only one to get breakouts when consuming flax.

  8. Anne says

    Hi, i was also trying this cycle for 4 months already but unfortunately no menstruation still. I’m single and not trying to conceive, i decided to try natural ways after on pills for 3 years. I feel hopeless already:(

  9. Laura says

    Hi, Thanks for the post! I’ve heard about this before from a Naturopath doctor and never fully tried it to see if it helps me regulate my period. I’ll have to give it a go! One question, should I avoid the alternate seeds when in one phase of the month? For example, if I am in the first 14 days should I avoid sesame and sunflower seeds? I love tahini and I always put flax seeds in my oatmeal in the morning is why I ask. Thank you!

  10. Jerri says

    I used flaxseed for a month and experienced one of the worst acne breakouts of my life. What would cause that?

    • Shalini says

      You must be Pitta type as per ayurveda, for your body type flax seeds will warm your body further. You should take Chia seeds that are rich in Omega 3 and yet cool the body.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Posted in: