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Puberty

General characteristics

General characteristics

Puberty is the stage of life when male and female children begin their evolution into adults. It is characterised by a surge in body growth and in hormonal changes leading eventually to sexual maturity and is accompanied by many other changes such as oilier skin and other skin changes, increased body odour and sweating, an increase in self-consciousness and body awareness and anger or emotional outbursts. Girls tend to begin puberty a bit earlier than boys and can begin anywhere from 8-15 years of age.

For boys the changes include an increase in testosterone levels which lead to the development of viable sperm, the ability to ejaculate, an increase in penis and testicle size, the growth of muscles and broadening of shoulders, facial, pubic, leg, arm, chest and underarm hair, deepening voice and enlarged Adams apple.

For girls their hormonal changes include breast development, egg production, pubic and underarm hair growth, increased body fat, the beginnings of the menstrual cycle and broadening of the hips.

Puberty is a normal cycle of growth and development and good diet, exercise, and an active fun filled lifestyle will go a long way to smoothing the passage from childhood to young adulthood. The liver of children going through puberty is working particularly hard to process the extra hormones, be careful not to add extra work through poor diet.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

At a time when the child is beginning to show signs of independence and the making of their own choices, a healthy diet becomes more vital than ever.

Young girls who are overweight before puberty are more likely to experience puberty earlier than normal. Excess body fat leads to an excess of a hormone that triggers the onset of puberty so losing a little weight through exercising and good food will help prevent this.

Good amounts of protein, fats, minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and vitamins A and B complex are all needed for healthy growth. These should be obtained wherever possible through dietary sources rather than supplements. Whole grains, vegetables, nuts, fruits, seeds, salads with leaves, organic dairy, lean meat, eggs, oily fish and the like will provide all that is needed.

Eat organic meat, dairy and animal products wherever possible to avoid the hormone disrupting effects of growth and sex hormones from non-organically reared animals.

Junk food, processed foods, sugary foots, fried and fatty foods and refined carbohydrates should be limited to avoid their health robbing effects.

Avoid fizzy drinks as they leach calcium from the bones.

Avoid so called 'energy' or 'sports' drinks as they often contain excessive amounts of caffeine, other stimulants, sugar and artificial additives. Caffeine and stimulants can overburden an already hard working liver.

A daily juice of something like carrot, beetroot and apple will provide good amounts of calcium and iron as well as many vitamins and other important nutrients.


Useful herbs

Useful Herbs

Make a herbal tea part of every day life to provide a wealth of nutrients including calcium and iron by combining nettle, raspberry leaf and oatstraw in equal parts and taking one large cup daily. Raspberry leaf provides good quantities of calcium, nettle is high in iron and oatstraw provides valuable B vitamins.

Add a teaspoon of dried boneset to the above tea to get even more calcium and help with aching bones or joints due to growth spurts or an increased calcium need due to lots of exercise.

For lumps under the nipples in boys (often due to fluctuating oestrogen levels) try a formula of cleavers, wild indigo, marigold and dandelion root.. Use equal parts and give 10-20 drops up to 3 times daily in a little water.

A formula containing equal parts of tinctures of skullcap, vervain, chamomile, dandelion root and lavender can help to ease the nervous system and stresses of teenage and adolescence and ease the anger outbursts. Use 2.5 ml up to 3 times daily in a little water.

To help smooth out erratic male hormones whilst going through puberty try the following herbal tinctures in equal parts...damiana, saw palmetto, valerian, st johns wort, wild yam, raspberry leaf and skullcap. Use 2.5ml up to 3 times daily.

To help balance female hormones and encourage normal menstrual cycles try taking the following tinctures in equal parts... wild yam, agnus castus, black cohosh, fennel seed, milk thistle, dandelion root and raspberry leaf. Take 10- 40 drops up to 3 times daily.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Exercise should be engaged in regularly to help keep the body fit and healthy, work off stresses and to build and maintain strong bones and flexibility. Encourage them to take up a sport or hobby if they don't already do so.
Gradually giving the child a greater amount of responsibility (such as washing up, cleaning their rooms, caring for a pet etc) can help to ease them into the beginning of young adulthood and help build their self esteem.
Wherever possible, avoid the environmental hormone disruptors (such as BPA) which are found in plastics and food packaging such as plastic bottles and linings of tin cans etc.

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