Does Seed Cycling Work For Acne?

what is seed cycling acne

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Isn’t it magical that the female cycle is synced with the moon?  Think about it – our hormones actually cycle with nature, even though very often we are unaware of how this is all unfolding.

Starting to understand our cycles, and how we can optimize our health and our happiness by synching our lives with our menstrual cycles is a science and an art that is slowly being revitalized.  

What is seed cycling Acne?

Seed cycling acne is One such trendy technique to help us sync with our cycles is ‘seed cycling’ which was developed by Dr. Dickson Thom (one of my mentors) at least 20 years ago.  This protocol involves using different seeds at different stages of the menstrual cycle to deliver nutrients that are vital to that particular stage.

During the first 14 days of your cycle (the follicular stage), you eat two tablespoons each of ground flaxseed and ground pumpkin seed each day. The second half of your cycle from ovulation until you get your period (the luteal phase), you eat two tablespoons each of ground sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.

The basic theory is that during the follicular phase of the cycle flaxseeds provide Omega-3 fatty acids and act as a phytoestrogens during the time when estrogen levels are rising.  Pumpkin seeds provide zinc that is required to metabolize estrogen and produce progesterone in the up-coming luteal phase.  During the luteal phase, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are important sources of selenium, which help with progesterone production.

Does seed cycling work?

There is the scientific evidence and then there is the anecdotal evidence.

First of all, seeds are powerhouses of nutrition, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats – increasing consumption of these foods is an important way to uplevel your health and your hormonal balance, regardless of when you eat them during the month. 

The scientific evidence does not support seed cycling, although it does support seeds as part of a healthy diet.

I have prescribed seed cycling to many of my patients over the years.  It has helped some patients tremendously, it has not made a difference to some patients, and it has also aggravated acne for many patients as well.  Because my primary patient population is acne patients, I have adjusted my seed cycling protocol to avoid break-outs.

What does my acne-friendly seed protocol look like?

In some women that are prone to acne, flaxseeds can make acne worse.  Flaxseeds act as a phytoestrogen, and in some patients that have internal inflammation, high estrogen levels and are susceptible to acne, flax seeds can heighten the estrogenic response.  I have seen this again and again in clinical practice.

With this in mind, I prescribe 2 tbsp each of chia seeds and hemp seeds in the first half of the cycle, from bleeding to ovulation (follicular phase), and then 2 tbsp each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds from ovulation to just before bleeding (luteal phase).  

Do the seeds really have to be cycled?

One of the best things about seed cycling is that it creates cycle awareness.  The only way to know which seeds should be taken when is to track what phase of your cycle you are experiencing.  This alone is a magical practice that can help balance your hormones.

But the hormonal benefit of seed consumption will be realized whether you cycle your seeds or simply eat the same seeds randomly throughout the month.  For those women that find keeping track of when they need to eat certain seeds just another stressful task, don’t sweat it.  Simply eating seeds is going to benefit your hormonal health tremendously.

In fact, seeds are so powerful and nutritious that for many of us, eating them all month long is far more impactful.  Here’s why:

  • Sesame Seeds

Research has shown that regular consumption of sesame seeds can reduce androgen levels in women with PCOS.  With this in mind, I encourage my patients to eat 1 tbsp of tahini 4-5x per week.

  • Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are a great source of protein, and if you are a vegan or a vegetarian they are invaluable.  They are also an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation – and acne.  Limiting consumption of these nutrition powerhouses to only half the month might not be ideal for many patients.

  • Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are incredibly high in zinc, which is critical for skin health.  With this in mind, I want my patients to take them all month long.  Pumpkin seeds also stimulate something called GABA which is a very calming neurotransmitter. It’s wonderful for PMS and can be very beneficial when taken in the second half of the cycle.

What is my recommendation?

While seed cycling can be an excellent tool for synching with your cycle, it is not always beneficial for all women.  If it works for you and feels great, do it.

But, if seed cycling is just an added stress or if you suffer with acne, you may want to reconsider.  Simply eating seeds is beneficial for hormonal balance, and sometimes eating certain seeds all month long is more beneficial than cycling them.

Bottom line: eat more seeds!

P.S.  If you are struggling with acne and you want to learn more about how to heal your skin for good, check out my free Clear Skin Masterclass. It is going to teach you amazing strategies to heal your acne for good – and it’s absolutely free. Click the link below to sign up for the masterclass now and I cannot wait to help you on your clear skin journey.

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