Mood swings…Anger. Frustration. Anxiousness. Depression. Confusion An emotional rollercoaster.
Sleep disturbances…Staying up too late. Oversleeping in the morning. Exhaustion.
Body image issues…Acne. Oily hair and skin. Weight gain. Feeling too tall or too short.
Teens are often in upheaval due mainly to one thing: hormones.
This is the time of their lives when their bodies are growing from childhood to adulthood and often it is messy, painful, beautiful, raging.
During puberty, teens experience surges of hormones which can intensify their emotions. Often teens feel out of control and rage, often without any warning.
It’s important for teens to learn to identify the emotions they are feeling, give them a name, and learn to pay attention to what is triggering them.
Often a melt down over something that seems trivial to us adults, such as a B+ on a homework assignment when they expected an A, can stem from not only those hormones that are out of balance but also from a disrupted sleep schedule, a lack of a balanced diet (is your teen hangry a lot?), being too sedentary, or a combination of any of these.
A teen that can recognize these signals will have a valuable skill that will help him to quickly reduce intense emotions by grabbing a piece of fruit, taking a walk outdoors, or getting a 10 minute power nap. As he moves into adulthood, your teen will see the value in having healthier habits to help keep their emotions in check.
Herbs for hormone health and puberty
This is the perfect time to support the body and reproductive system with herbs! Herbs are gentle helpers that can help to soothe the tribulations of a changing body.
The following are a few herbs that are great for teens:
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that is relaxing and restorative to the body. It supports and enhances the function of the endocrine system, including helping to increase the function of the thyroid, adrenal glands, and the testes in men, making this a super supportive herb for boys going through puberty. Ashwagandha is high in iron making this a great herb for girls who have started menstruating, as it also assists women who are weakened from heavy menstrual bleeding by increasing iron levels in the blood to replace iron lost during menses.
Ashwagandha is traditionally taken with milk. If you are dairy intolerant you can substitute a nut milk of your choice. You can sweeten with molasses or honey but if you need the extra iron, molasses is best. Steep 1 teaspoon Ashwagandha in 8 oz of scalding milk for 15-20 minutes. Add 1-2 teaspoons molasses or honey to sweeten and drink 1 cup twice daily.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranous)
Another adaptogenic herb, Astragalus is very nourishing and restorative to the body. Astragalus works similar to Ginseng but because it is more gentle, it is often suggested for children and teens. As a cognitive enhancer, Astragalus may help to support some cognitive function including concentration, learning, memory, and mood. Astragalus also is supportive to the liver.
Astragalus works best as a water based remedy so add Astragalus roots to soups, stews, and broths, or make a tea out of the decoction. A double extracted tincture also works well, simply decoct the roots in water first then add alcohol to preserve. Dose is 90 drops three times daily. More recipes and ideas can be found in the Astragalus issue.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
This herb tastes great, helps to relax stressed and anxious teens, and helps to release tension. This is a great herb to have on hand to help balance mood swings.
This herb is naturally fruity and sweet, making it a great herb to have on hand as a tea.
Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
I mentioned this herb in last week’s article about stress and anxiety. Besides being a nourishing herb that helps to support the nervous system, Milky Oats helps to balance and regulate hormone function, making it a great herb for teens to add to their daily herbal regimen.
Their naturally sweet flavor makes them perfect as a daily infusion.
Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)
This is another herb that was mentioned earlier this month when I was talking about acne and liver support. In addition to helping with acne and supporting the liver, Vitex also supports the pituitary gland, helping to regulate and balance hormones. For teens riding out the rollercoaster of puberty, Vitex can help to calm the emotions of both boys and girls. For girls with irregular cycles, Vitex has been found helpful for regulating them
Vitex is slow to act on change in the body and it is suggested it should be taken for 3 months straight before expecting any results.
To use Vitex, take 60 drops in a cup of water in the morning and another 30 drops in a cup of water in the early afternoon.
Willow (Salix spp.)
Years ago I learned from herbalist Henriette Kress that the Willow catkins are often used for extreme hormone fluctuations in teens. Though traditionally Black Willow catkins were used, Henriette has tried out different types of Willow with great success.
To use, make a tincture of 4 oz . fresh Willow catkins in 8 oz. grain alcohol. Teens should take 15 drops three times daily.
Want to get daily tips, recipes, and more on herbs for teens? Follow me on Instagram where I’m posting all month on herbs for teens.