Can Eating Seeds be an Effective option for Hormonal Acne?

Written by Christine Bishara MD

It is important to seek advice from your Primary doctor or Dermatologist before trying any acne treatment. By working together, you can create a customized solution that is most effective for your specific needs.

Most physicians are well versed on the standard use of therapies for treating acne, so when a patient of mine surprisingly mentioned the term “Seed Cycling” I was a bit curious and decided to delve in and do some research on the topic. While I couldn’t source many scientific publications on the subject, I did find a handful of good scholarly summaries, and a lot of online patient testimonials on its effectiveness. I understand the process of this natural therapy for acne, it makes sense to me, and it does have some scientific validity, therefore I am sharing my findings on this natural remedy for acne.

This article aims to cover not only the causes of acne, but the different treatment options that are available including, the consumption of different Lignan containing seeds in a cyclical manner. Lignans are phytonutrients that are rich in fiber and can be found in seeds. They have been shown to help balance hormone levels.

Common Causes for Acne

Here are some of the most common causes of acne:

  1. Hormonal: Hormonal acne is often associated with pubertal teenagers but it can also resurface during perimenopause and menopause. During puberty, the increase in sex hormones stimulates excessive oil production in glands resulting in obstructed pores and hair follicles. It is important to note that genetic factors play a role in the development of hormonal acne. If your parents had it during their teenage years, you may be more prone to developing it as well.
  2. Inflammation: A diet that is abundant in processed foods can have an adverse effect on the gut leading to some degree of systemic inflammation. This, in turn, triggers a response in the immune system to  increase the production of white blood cells which can lead to inflammation and swelling in the skin.
  3. Certain types of medications or skin products: The most common type of acne inducing medications include:
  • Birth control pills
  • Lithium and Lamictal
  • Certain seizure medications such as Phenytoin and Valproic acid
  • Steroids
  1. Diet: Over time, consumption of processed foods can not only impact gut health but also influence hormone production, leading to an increase in sebum production. Foods that are high in sugar content can disrupt insulin levels, eventually affecting hormone levels.
  2. Stress: Stress can have negative effects on the skin due to the release of hormones, particularly cortisol, which can cause inflammation and other skin issues
  3. Bacteria: In patients with acne, Staphylococcus aureus and Propionibacterium acnes are the most frequently observed bacterial strains. These two bacteria are typically found on the skin as commensals. Research indicates that specific genetic factors may make certain individuals more susceptible to the impact of these bacteria in the onset of acne.

Seeds Role in Acne

So how exactly does eating seeds play a role in all of this? From the information I’ve  been able to gather, it appears that seed cycling is more effective in treating hormonal acne, but it has also shown improvement in all types of acne. Seeds such as sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flaxseeds are abundant in lignans. While there may be many plant based foods that contain lignans, seeds have a much higher amount of these potent phytonutrients. Lignans have also been shown to impede an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase which plays a role in the conversion of the androgen testosterone to its more potent form DHT. Lignans have also been found to possess estrogen stabilizing properties and have proven to be effective in regulating hormone levels during times when production is irregular, such as puberty and perimenopause/menopause.

Seed cycling is a practice that involves rotating the consumption of four types of seeds, namely pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds. 

For women, the protocol consists of  eating 1 tbsp each of pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds daily from day 1 to 14 of your menstrual period. Then, from days 14-28, consumption of 1 tbsp each of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, repeating with every menstrual cycle. This can be adjusted, if your periods are irregular. Just  start from day 1 of your cycle and do 28 days in rotation.

You’re probably wondering whether seed cycling is a viable option for men too. Based on my research, the answer is, yes! Since Lignans play a crucial role in testosterone balance, they can also aid with hormonal acne in males as well. Males can adhere to a moon cycle (new moon to full moon). Noticeable results can be seen in as little as 30 days, and the most optimal results are noticed between 3-6 months.

Thinking you’re ready to try seed cycling? Here are two articles to help you get started. 

Seed Cycling for Hormonal Imbalance.

What Is Seed Cycling? Effects on Hormones and Menopause


The impact of acne on individuals can be quite distressing. We have enough stress in our daily lives without having to deal with acne on top of it. However, incorporating seeds in the diet can be an effective way to boost overall health owing to their rich nutrient content that includes essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

It is a natural and gentle way to support balanced hormone levels, and it can be used at any stage in one’s life, that includes women as well as men. While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of seed cycling, it is a promising and accessible option for those looking to support their hormonal health. And to get started, it may be as simple as just reaching into one’s own pantry. 

Want to schedule a virtual consultation with Dr. Bishara for your acne issues or related gut problems? click here…