If you look around, you will observe that girls are usually a few years ahead of boys in developmental terms and in their emotional moods and feelings which are swayed by hormone 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 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 alleviated and supported, making it easier for adolescents to step out of childhood and into adulthood.
It is essential that we remember that adolescents themselves do not enjoy their own body swings and emotional outbursts - or parental reactions. During adolescence, a great many new hormones are circulating in the system, dramatically affecting the whole energy of the body, moods and feelings. I feel that, in cultures where the passage of maturing into adulthood was traditionally celebrated, this recognition of the transition may have served to create for adolescents a greater understanding of the immense challenges that lay before them.
Young men and women need to know they are special at this time. Denial of this passage can lead to many problems, including anorexia, bulimia and liver problems.
Functions of Oestrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone in the Body
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 the male uterus and, although it manifests no cyclic menstruation, it is dependent on the endocrine system. Some would say it could also be the counterpart to the breasts in the female. He points out that testicles are ovarian tissue that has dropped down. Certainly, 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 a female's body. He goes on to draw similarities between vaginal and penis tissue and the 'hood' found on both the clitoris and the penis; and points out that the male scrotum and the female labia majora are of homologous tissue. Having said that there are major differences!
guides the young female foetus from babyhood to womanhood, partially explaining why girls behave like girls (such as playing nurturing games) and why eventually they grow breasts and develop higher voices and broader hips.
helps in the growth of the endometrial tissue that forms a 'nest' for a fertilised egg - it is the fertility hormone.
helps to relax blood vessel walls and aids circulation and tone in the genital tract. This relaxation causes cervical secretions that are inviting to the sperm.
helps to retain bone calcium.
needs to be balanced in order to prevent dramatic mood swings, painful cramping menstruation and more problems in later womanhood. A joyful woman has balanced oestrogen.
levels increase after menstruation and ovulation, then decrease pre-menstrually, although this hormone is present throughout the whole cycle. Herbs can help to gently nudge out of sync hormones to a more balanced and level production.
excessive production creates an imbalance in the production of a hormone called alderosterone and this, in turn, disturbs water balance in the body, resulting in swelling and tenderness of the breasts, stomach and ankles. Excessive oestrogen will lower progesterone levels and cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, involving the hormones, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. It will also cause poor metabolism of some vitamins, minerals and fatty acids and will over-stimulate the body, causing paranoia, anxiety, palpitations, hot and cold sweats, shaking and lowered blood sugar.
a deficiency interferes with the successful breakdown of trytophan and other mood-balancing and enhancing chemicals in the brain.
whenever the body is damaged, either by physical trauma, chemical action, or illness, oestrogen and other steroid hormones appear in great concentration; possibly serving as stimulants or catalysts for cellular growth and body repair.
Oestrogen is the food upon which cancer grows (to produce cancer in lower animals, scientists introduce an oestrogen base).
encourages the development of male hormones in pubescent boys.
is the precursor of the other sex hormones, oestrogen and testosterone. is the predominant hormone in the second phase of the menstrual cycle, acting to maintain any fertilised eggs.
mainly prepares for and supports pregnancy (in fact the word progesterone is derived from the Latin meaning 'supporting gestation'). Without it, spontaneous abortion can take place. It is vital for the survival of the embryo and foetus throughout gestation.
protects against breast fibrocysts and endometrial and breast cancers. is a natural diuretic and can alleviate a pre-menstrual bloated feeling. helps use fat for energy: fat is built by oestrogen, progesterone works to balance this.
is a natural antidepressant - lack of it will bring on apathy, sluggishness and depression. However, an excessive amount of progesterone may cause depression, lack of concentration and weepiness.
helps thyroid action and resulting energy levels.
normalises blood clotting. If clots are seen menstrually, progesterone herbs will help.
helps normalise blood sugar levels; often pre-menstrual sugar cravings mean that there is too little progesterone available.
normalises zinc and copper levels, which are especially vital for the immune system.
stimulates bone growth, which is vital for the development of children and to prevent osteoporosis in later life.
is the precursor of cortisone synthesis produced by the adrenal cortex, which is essential for sustaining the balance of the adrenal glands. This in turn directly supports the thyroid.
restores proper cell oxygen levels and therefore helps concentration and, in particular, mental agility.
is produced by the testes in the male body. The testes lie dormant throughout infancy and early childhood, until the onset of puberty, at which time the male organs enlarge.
if levels are low during the development of the foetus, the testes will not descend properly if at all. The development of sperm may also be adversely affected.
causes aggression which, when
correctly, is a major human survival instinct.
promotes hair growth on the face, abdomen, pubis, chest and armpits and increases larynx development, which results in the adult male voice becoming lower.
increases the protein content of muscles, bones and skin.
encourages the development of female hormones in pubescent girls.
The liver has an important role for menstruating young women and for those who are not yet menstruating but are cyclic. The liver produces many of the sex-related hormones itself as well as processing others which are produced elsewhere in the body. Occasionally, and particularly premenstrually when progesterone is high, the liver becomes congested with excesses of hormones. Unable for one reason or another to deal with these, the liver becomes sluggish. Toxins accumulate as a result of this incapacitation and things can go from bad to worse. The liver is joyful if functioning properly and angry and depressed if overworked and under-functioning so, at key hormone times, it can become quite an emotional time bomb. The liver can also work in harmony or at cross purposes with the spleen and both are worth looking at together on a regular and frequent basis.
The kidneys must also function well and, along with the adrenal glands, may need to be supported in times of stress as weakness in these will adversely affect hormone production. A healthy bowel is also essential.
The endocrine or hormone system as a whole must be understood. Apart form the major hormones which have already been discussed there are glands situated in key areas throughout the body which secrete very small amounts of other hormones. Their healthy and balanced function is essential to adolescents as they dictate to a large extent this delicate transition from childhood to adulthood. It is often observed that the endocrine system is very similar to the Ayurvedic system of chakras, so yoga exercises, deep breathing and any other chakra-balancing exercises you may know of can help. Watching for the first showings of pubic and underarm hair and breast development will help mums, dads, daughters and sons tune in to what is going on and to be more alert to any uncomfortable mood swings which may be alleviated by foods, herbs and exercise.
Seek a practitioner for Specific Herbs
Iron intake is vital, especially by girls, but teenagers in general need for this mineral. 'Florodix' (available at many health food stores and Boots) is one source.
It is vital that wholesome food is received on a daily basis in order to continue building and forming still growing bodies and additionally for supporting the advent and ongoing production of hormones.
Jamie Oliver has done much to raise our awareness levels for further detailed help and support consider seeing a nutritionalist / naturopath.
Men produce ten times more testosterone than women. This gives men their more muscular features, just as oestrogen produces the female curves. For the adolescent male these testosterone surges can be quite alarming and can be reflected in loud, reckless behaviour, which is often difficult to handle for them as well as 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 and female teenagers and confidence levels can swing, but with good food and herbs this problem can be reduced. Good diet alleviates general growing pains and gives vital energy.
All teenagers should avoid tea and coffee because these 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.
These much-used drinks can also cause hyperactivity.
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