Life Stages

Adolescence

Every child is sensual to varying degrees, but the arrival of sex hormones adds a different dimension to these earlier feelings. If you look around,you will observe that girls are usually a few years ahead of boys in developmental terms as well as in their emotional moods and feelings, which are swayed by hormonal changes. Nevertheless, boys catch up and have their own particular problems to deal with. Girls can begin to menstruate as early as eight to ten years old, but it is more common around the age of twelve. With a stepdaughter, a stepson, and two girls of my own, I have watched these hormonal developments, and I’m happy to report that, with the use of good food, occasional herbs, and other balancing modalities, a lot of what parents refer to as “horrible hormone moods” can be partially (I do say partially!) alleviated and supported, making it easier for adolescents to step out of childhood and into adulthood.

 

It is essential to remember that adolescents themselves do not enjoy their own bodily fluctuations and emotional outbursts — or parental daughters, and sons tune in to what is going on and be more alert to any
uncomfortable mood swings that could be alleviated by foods, herbs, and exercise. (For young women who are already menstruating, read the section on menstruation for more ideas.)
Pau d’arco inner bark comes from a South American rain forest tree; it influences both the liver and the endocrine system. It can safely be taken over a period of time and is extremely rich in calcium, which is useful for growing bodies.
Wild yam root beneficially affects the liver, digestive system, adrenals, colon, and endocrine system. It is also a hormone precursor. It can be safely taken over a period of time by both sexes.
Siberian ginseng root and Chinese licorice root are major endocrine gland tonics and exhibit properties similar to adrenocortical hormone; they will, therefore, help exhausted teenagers. They will also generally detoxify and support the liver and bloodstream.

Iron intake is vital, especially for girls, but adolescence generally increases the need for this mineral. Weekly or daily nettle tea will generally provide sufficient quantities for their needs.
All teenagers should avoid tea and coffee because they damage hormone production, clog the liver, and encourage problem skin. They also interrupt growth in children and adolescents, reducing the absorption of iron and calcium, both of which are vital for growing bodies. In addition, these much-used drinks can cause hyperactivity.
Herbalist James Green, author of The Male Herbal, is careful to point out that in many ways, boys and girls, men and women are all quite similar. He explains that the prostate can be interpreted as a male uterus
and, although it manifests no cyclic menstruation, it is dependent on the endocrine system. Some would say it could also be considered the counterpart to the breasts in the female. He points out that it is a nourishing organ and says that testicles are ovarian tissue that has dropped down. When a male suffers a blow to the testicles, he says, much of the pain is felt in the vicinity of where the ovaries are located in reactions to them.

Men produce ten times more testosterone than women. This gives men their more muscular features, just as estrogen produces the female curves. For the adolescent male, testosterone surges can be quite alarming
and can be reflected in loud, reckless behavior, which is often difficult to handle for them as well as for those around them. Add to this a congested liver, and the result can indeed be explosive. Alcohol reduces testosterone
levels and may result in stunted masculine development. Just as for women, the endocrine system is very important to male adolescent evolution. Similarly, acne can be a problem for male teenagers and
confidence levels can swing, but with good food and herbs, these problems can be reduced. Good diet alleviates general growing pains and gives vital energy.

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