During puberty there are serious physical changes in the human body as well as frequent conflicts between the adolescents and their adult environment. This article sheds light on the physical processes, backgrounds and possible complaints during puberty, gives tips on how to deal with this particular phase of life and lists some naturopathic remedies that can be used against typical puberty problems (such as pimples).
Puberty - the most important facts
- definition: Period of life in which sexual maturity or reproductive capacity is reached, with corresponding physical changes (increased growth, development of secondary sexual characteristics, pubic hair), by means of which puberty can be divided into so-called Tanner stages.
- Physical changes boys:
- Growth of testes and penis,
- Pubic hair in the genital area and under the armpits,
- Growth spurt in height,
- Broken voice,
- Beard growth.
- Physical changes girls:
- Growth of the vagina and internal genital organs,
- Pubic hair in the genital area and under the armpits,
- Growth spurt in height,
- Breast development,
- first menstrual period (menarche).
- time: On average, girls reach puberty almost two years earlier than boys, and puberty begins at the earliest from the age of 8. By the age of 17, puberty in girls is generally complete, in boys by the age of 21 at the latest.
- Typical puberty problems: Acne, mood swings, growing pains and menstrual cramps (in girls).
- Home remedies for puberty symptoms: Envelopes with bitter bitter Swedish for growing pains, healing earth masks for pimples, mugwort tea, lady's mantle, gooseberry, yarrow, chamomile and lemon balm for menstrual cramps.
Background of puberty
The phase of life called puberty is considered a fairly recent phenomenon, the separate consideration of which was established in industrialized countries about a century ago. All people go through this phase of physical change, but living in the countries that are usually referred to as the Third World, a special consideration of puberty as a phase of life is not common. One reason for this is that the lifestyle in the regions there is very different from that of the western industrialized countries.
Among other things, because most people in western countries live longer today than they did about a hundred years ago, the childhood phase, which we now call puberty, is artificially extended. In the period between the ages of 13 and 14, a person in many countries is already considered an adult (and often also sexually mature). In western countries, however, young people are not considered adults, but rather isolated by them and treated as children. This manifests itself in everyday life in such a way that adults are often not given any (personal) responsibility and the adults want to continue to decide about the life of the teenager.
What people in this phase of life lack in the western industrialized world is the chance to be able to take responsibility for themselves or to be able to do so and to prove and integrate in this society at an early stage. It seems a logical consequence that this must lead to conflicts between the generations.
Hormones in puberty
In addition to the externally visible growth in size, there are internal processes of hormonal change, which are visible from the outside, and can be felt by relatives and friends and above all by the adolescents themselves. It is above all the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone that increase in a sex-dependent manner in the pubescent organism. Testosterone is produced in the testes and estrogen in the ovaries. Their production was boosted by pituitary hormones - the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and the luteinizing hormone (LH). The epiphysis is connected to the pituitary gland via the pituitary style (infundibulum). From it originates the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which heats the two epiphyseal hormones LH and FSH, which in turn was based on a protein of the pituitary gland (kisspeptin). To activate GnRH, this binds to so-called GPR54 receptors.
The sex hormones estrogen and testosterone mentioned at the beginning now act on the hypothalamus right here, by influencing the sex drive and helping to maintain an appropriate balance of LH and FSH for the organism. These internal switching and conversion mechanisms have an externally visible effect on the development of the secondary sexual characteristics and with them on sexual maturation. Puberty can be particularly stressful for boys if they develop breasts from too many estrogens - this is called puberty gynecomastia.
The hormonal processes are extremely complex and cannot yet be fully understood. According to recent findings, the messenger substance leptin, which is produced in the adipose tissue, also seems to promote physical conversion.
Tanner stages at puberty
The outer physical development of adolescents is divided into the so-called Tanner stages. James Mourilyan Tanner (1920-2010) was an English pediatrician who divided puberty in 1969 into these different stages, taking into account individual and social as well as physical components. The main focus of the Tanner stages is on the development of the female breast, male genitalia and pubic hair.
Brain and puberty
The external development and conversion processes do not stop at the brain control center. The initial spark for the “construction site atmosphere” during puberty under the skull appears to give estrogens, even in boys. Some brain cells even die and connections recede to make room for new functional structures. The transformation takes place from the back of the head towards the forehead. The so-called prefrontal cortex sits here. An area that houses the properties evaluation, risk assessment and planning of situations. This can lead to a lack of rational decisions during the “construction site phase”. Among other things, during this time the sleep hormone melatonin can be released in the brain about two hours later than normal and thus ensure that adolescents stay awake for a long time - combined with the consequence that getting up in the morning is more difficult.
Puberty - symptoms and diseases
Almost every adolescent has to deal with skin problems, at least at times, from simple pimples to stubborn puberty acne. Quite a few young people complain of growing pains during puberty, which can be felt in the limbs and muscles. The girls get their menstruation and often suffer from menstrual pain.
In addition to more functional problems such as Scheuermann's disease (possibly with back pain) or Osgood-Schlatter's disease (possibly with knee pain or patella pain), during puberty it can manifest serious symptoms such as type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, depression or thyroid disorders such as Example come underactive thyroid or overactive thyroid. It is conceivable that non-reorganizing control loops can lead to malfunctions with subsequent pathological manifestations.
In this context, there are always explanatory models in science that also attempt to explain eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, self-mutilation, drug abuse or schizophrenia during puberty in a purely neurobiological manner.
Naturopathy and holistic medicine
Functional disorders in the area of muscles and skeleton can often be improved in naturopathy, especially by osteopathy and other manual therapies. A pronounced puberty acne can respond to the use of detoxifying and draining medicinal plants as well as to autologous blood therapy or treatment with autologous urine. In addition, incompatible foods, for example kinesiologically tested and avoided. In many cases, skin complaints also improve by regulating the improperly populated intestinal mucosa (intestinal dysbiosis), which is often found in skin symptoms.
According to the classic homeopathic medical history, the constitutional remedy found can have a positive effect on various symptoms, which may well exist in adolescents at the same time. With growing pains, for example, are from homeopathy especially Acidum phosphoricum or Calcium phosphoricum worth a try in the potencies D6 and D12, the latter can also be taken as a Schüßler salt.
Home remedies for puberty complaints
Typical puberty symptoms such as growing pains or pimples can be alleviated with home remedies. In the case of growing pains, envelopes with Swedish bitter can be applied directly to the aching limbs for external use. With pimples and blackheads, masks and packs with healing earth are promising, whereby the healing earth literally absorbs toxins and can alleviate or even prevent inflammation. (tf, jvs, fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Melanie Hess, Urs Zumsteg: Too early? Too late? An overview of puberty and common puberty disorders; in Practice (2017), 106, pages 127-133
- Gertraud Diem-Wille: Puberty - The Inner World of Adolescents and Their Parents: Psychoanalytic Development Theory according to Freud, Klein and Bion, Kohlhammer Verlag, 2017
- Pediatricians on the net: time of change (accessed 10.09.2019), kinderaerzte-im-netz.de
- Sergio R. Ojeda & Alejandro Lomniczi: Unraveling the mystery of puberty; in Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 10, pages 67-69 (2014), nature.com
- Nandita Vijayakumara, Zdena Op de Macks, Elizabeth A. Shirtcliff, Jennifer H. Pfeifer: Puberty and the human brain: Insights into adolescent development; in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 92, September 2018, page 417-436, sciencedirect.com