Acne Seed Cycling

acne seed cycling

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Acne seed cycling for hormone balance

Hormonal acne is real.  It pops up the week before your period, and it is often painful, deep and inflamed.  It can take weeks to go away and leaves unsightly scarring and hyper-pigmentation. Not to mention the emotional trauma and shattered self-confidence. Hormonal acne is a real problem that needs to be solved, because like anything – the longer it persists the more it resists.  Which means it gets more difficult to treat and it can lead to other, deeper health issues. So how does one solve hormonal acne?

For years I conducted expensive salivary and urinary hormonal panels for women and then developed protocols based on the test results. A classic functional medicine approach. Sometimes the results were great, but sometimes they weren’t great, and the success of the protocol almost always depended on taking expensive supplements and hormones indefinitely. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to provide my patients with a simple system that would treat their acne and hormonal imbalances from the very foundation of their being. I needed to provide a solution that would solve hormonal imbalances and acne for good, without having to depend on expensive tests and supplements. After all, the body wants to heal itself and be balanced – and I wanted to provide a complete picture of health for my patients.

And so, I changed my approach. My focus is now on balancing insulin and blood sugar levels, supporting the liver and eliminating inflammation in the gut. Basically, I am setting the foundation for real health in all systems of the body. The result?  Balanced hormones in 100 days, almost always. No need to continuously take expensive supplements. And, of course, clear skin. How does seed cycling fit it? Most often seed cycling is not even needed to balance the hormones, but sometimes a bit of extra support is required. This extra support means gently supporting estrogen and progesterone production in the body. Instead of using expensive drugs and herbs I use the magic of acne seed cycling. Pioneered by Dr. Dickson Thom ND, a highly respected Naturopathic Doctor in the USA, certain seeds support different parts of the menstrual cycle, and taken regularly for 3 months, a gentle rhythm and balance is restored to the menstrual cycle.

What exactly is acne seed cycling?

Seed cycling is basically a naturopath-recommended remedy suggested for hormonal imbalances such as PCOS, acne, irregular periods, and infertility. In this treatment, you will have to consume different types of seeds for each phase of your menstrual cycle.

Just like many modern medical practices, seed cycling has also been inspired by Chinese medicine, where it was referred to as the “Five-Seed Progeny Pill.” While this unique recipe was used to treat male infertility, modern seed cycling is specifically targeted at hormonal imbalances faced by women.

So, what is the reason behind using seeds? Seed hulls contain lignans which is a polyphenol that is found in plants. This is why seed will help control your hormonal pathways. Specifically, flax seeds are rich in lignans. And past studies have proven them to treat symptoms of PCOS. Furthermore, they can also provide positive effects on the regularity of the menstrual cycle. For instance,  flax seeds are estrogenic. This means that they promote the production of estrogen in your body. On the other hand, sunflower and sesame seeds are progesteronic. This means that they promote the production of progesterone. Healthy women who experience a normal menstrual cycle, produce both progesterone and estrogen at suitable levels. This is what prepares their body for fertilization.

Although more research is yet to be conducted regarding Seed cycling benefits, acne seed cycling is probably an excellent thing for your body. This is because seeds are healthy, and they contain lots of monounsaturated fats. Apart from this, they also include protein and fibre that are good for our bodies.

Simply put, acne seed cycling uses a combination of different seeds in order to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle. In seed cycling, the 28-day cycle is broken down into two phases:

  • Phase one: The menstrual and follicular phase (Days 1 – 14)
  • Phase two: The ovulatory and luteal phase (Days 15 – period)

In the follicular part of the cycle (Days 1 – 14), estrogen is the predominant hormone that helps the ovarian follicles mature. Seeds that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as hemp seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds are used to support this part of the cycle. In the luteal part of the cycle (Days 15 – period), progesterone is the predominant hormone. Inadequate progesterone is one of the primary causes of hormonal acne, and increased progesterone production can only be achieved when there are sufficient estrogen and reduced inflammation in the body – which helps produce a healthy ovarian follicle.  Seeds that are high in zinc and tryptophan help mimic the effect of progesterone on the GABA receptors in the body, which reduce symptoms of PMS. These seeds include raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds and raw sesame seeds.

Does seed cycling work on its own?

Seed cycling benefits will not be registered by your body if it is inflamed and full of toxins. Instead, seed cycling is part of a comprehensive program designed to support the liver, balance blood sugar and insulin levels, and reduce inflammation in the gut.

How do you take the seeds?

For the first phase of your cycle, take 2 tbsp of 2 types of ground seeds each day. For instance, on the first day of your period (first day of bleeding) start taking 2 tbsp each of chia and hemp seeds (or flax seeds), freshly ground. This combination of seeds is high in omegas, and they help to control the overproduction of estrogen in your body.  They will also protect against the threats of breast cancer.

The 15th day marks the beginning of phase two of the cycle. Starting on day 15 of your cycle (ovulation) start taking 2 tbsp each of raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or sesame seeds), freshly ground. The sunflower seeds contain selenium that will act as an anti-inflammatory. They will also balance hormones and ensure proper liver function. Apart from this, sunflower seeds also contain high amounts of omega 6. On the other hand, pumpkin seeds contain high amounts of zinc which are great for controlling hormonal acne as well as in regulating mood. Pumpkin seeds also promote the production of progesterone in the body, which is essential for women moving through their cycles.

What are the best ways to include seeds in your routine?

Seeds can be used in a smoothie for protein or sprinkled on a salad. I prefer adding the seeds into my smoothie in the morning. This way, it is super easy to integrate the seeds into my routine and I do not have to worry about the seeds for the rest of the day. 

Below are some amazingly creative ways to incorporate seeds into your diet:

  • Flax:

    You can try adding flax seeds to yoghurt, oatmeal, or a morning smoothie. You can also sprinkle some flax seeds on top of your toast or salad.

  • Pumpkin:

    You can always make pumpkin seed pesto. You can also sprinkle them on top of your nutritious Buddha bowl.

  • Sunflower:

    You can try making sunflower seed butter. Spread the butter on toast or add to your morning smoothie.

How long it takes for the seed cycling benefits to appear?

Seed cycling is a time-consuming method. It will not show instant results. So far, I’ve noticed that Acne seed cycling takes at least three cycles for the seeds to show any difference to your skin. However, your skin will continue to break out even after the first cycle. But don’t get upset. Be patient and continue with your treatment. It takes time to bring balance back to your hormones. Be persistent with this approach, and you shall notice that your usual luteal phase spots are not there anymore. It is also recommended to keep a journal so that you can keep track of your symptoms and results.

While there is no real evidence to support this unique treatment, as long as you don’t have any allergies to these seeds, you should confidently continue consuming them in your daily diet.

What if your period is not regular?

It is entirely possible to consume seeds if your period is not regular. Instead of taking the seeds by following the phases of your cycle, you can take the seeds by following the lunar cycle. On the New Moon start taking flax, chia and hemp seeds. On the Full Moon start taking sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.

What are different Seed cycling side effects?

Some women can experience constipation with increased seed consumption. If this is the case, be sure to drink 2L of water per day. If constipation persists, organotherapy may be another option to help regulate the menstrual cycle.

Things to keep in mind before starting this treatment

  • Use raw seeds

It is recommended to use raw seeds. This means that the seeds must be unsalted and unroasted. This will make sure that all the essential nutrients in the seeds are intact so that you can extract the best benefits out of them. Consuming organic seeds will also significantly reduce pesticide exposure that may disturb your hormones.

  • Grind them

Always grind your seeds using a coffee or spice grinder. This will make sure that your body digests them more quickly and efficiently.

  • Store your seeds in a cool place

The polyunsaturated fats found in different seeds will oxidize very quickly. This is true, especially when you are storing them in warmer temperatures. This is why I would suggest you to keeping the seeds in the dark and cool environment like the refrigerator or freezer. This will help them to stay fresh and nutritious for a longer run.


Carefully using food as medicine can be exhausting at first, but once you learn what works for you, you will start enjoying the process. The medical industry is still learning what different types of seeds have to offer for our bodies.

Hormone imbalance is a complex condition to treat since there are a number of factors that play their roles. This is why it is important to work with a healthcare practitioner so that your condition is properly diagnosed and treated.

For more information, check out the video below! Happy Seed Cycling! Xo, Dr. Stacey     

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