Herbs & Supplements for Teens
Teen girls experience a multitude of changes - physically, mentally and emotionally - that can have a lasting impact on their health and well-being. Herbal support and supplementation can provide teen girls with support to allieviate issues such as PMS, acne, and menstrual cramps which are generally safer and have fewer side effects than conventional medicine. The combination of herbs, supplements, and a healthy lifestyle is ideal to provide nourishment and support for optimal growth and development in teens.
There are numerous herbs that are ideal for supporting a growing teen, whether through skin concerns, hormonal concerns, or sleep issues. Often, many teens suffer from acne and can become very self-conscious as a result. The following herbs support healing for a variety of teenage conditions:
For Hormonal Imbalances
Chaste Berry (Vitex)
A powerful herb known for supporting the menstrual cycle by balancing hormones. This can help alleviate acne breakouts associated with PMS and female hormonal changes. Also helps with relieving menstrual cramps.
Chaste berry is often taken orally (as a liquid, capsule or tincture) for supporting hormonal function.
Best use: In a tincture or as a tea daily
Amongst the many benefits of ginger are its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding. Ginger is also an antibiotic, helps to relieve motion sickness and nausea, and prevents vomiting. Ginger is also a digestive aid.
Best use: For menstrual cramps take 2 capsules (total 1,000 mg/dose) 3 times daily beginning 3 - 5 days before your period starts and stop when you are “in the clear” with menstrual-related pain. You can also chop up 1 tbsp of fresh ginger and mix with hot water and drink as a tea throughout the day.
Melaleuca (tea tree)
An essential oil most known as a topical remedy for skin conditions and it is often more gentle than prescription topicals for acne. It has antibacterial properties that are great for reducing inflammation and redness associated with breakouts.
Try: Use topically by dabbing one drop mixed with a carrier oil (almond, grapeseed, coconut) onto skin where the breakout/acne occurs. It may cause irritation to those with sensitive skin. If irritation occurs, add more carrier oil to the mixture..
Triggers for acne:
Hormone disorders, eg. PCOS
Extreme weather changes - humid conditions
Swimming in chlorinated water
Creams/lotions that block pores
Nourishment is key to overall good health. Our bodies respond to what we choose to put in it.
Water and Fiber - Have at least 8 cups of filtered water each day and consume high fiber foods. Water is required by every cell in the body and one of the many uses of fiber is to eliminate excess cholesterol.
Consume foods high in vitamin A because this vitamin lowers keratin and sebum buildup which block pores. Some high vitamin A foods include beef (choose grass-fed sources only), eggs (choose pasture raised only), sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, mango, spinach, kale, broccoli, and butternut squash.
Excessive intake of sugar and refined carbs increase sebum levels (sebum blocks pores and pimple forms). Limit your sugar intake and when you do choose to have sugar chose natural forms such as honey, maple syrup, and stevia. Avoid all refined carbohydrates and other processed foods.
Fat is required to protect every cell in the body and to allow good things into cells and keep bad things out. The type of fat you consume will either support cell integrity or undermine it. Eat healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, fats found in wild fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), or take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Avoid all vegetable oils, canola oil and other hydrogenated oils.
STRESS is one of the major aggravators of acne, see below for herbal stress management support.
For Stress Management
This herb is greatly known for supporting mental clarity, enhancing moods, and reducing mood swings and anxiety.
Lemon balm is best taken orally or topically - through capsules, teas, extracts, and ointments.
Try: Drink as a tea or an infusion daily.
An ideal herb to support relaxation and alleviate anxiety. This herb is best known for its use as a tea.
Chamomile is best taken orally, or used as a lotion or salve.
Try: Drink as a tea daily.
Ideal for supporting sleep and promoting relaxation. It is best for teens who are suffering from trouble sleeping due to restlessness or those who are “tired but wired”.
Passionflower is best taken as an extract or as an infusion
Try: Try as a tincture 20-30 minutes before bed ( *not to be taken in combination with medications)
Multivitamin and Mineral
Although a proper diet, full of nutrient-dense foods is ideal, teens who may have trouble maintaining a balanced diet may consider taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement. It is best to choose a one that contains vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, omega-3, B6, B12, and zinc to support healthy hair/skin, bone strength, and energy. It is equally important to ensure any multivitamin taken is of high quality and contains whole-food based ingredients.
For Supporting the Menstrual Cycle
Supplements, or preferably, foods high in iron and calcium, support a normal menstrual cycle. If taking a quality multivitamin and mineral, there should be no reason to supplement additional iron or calcium unless a blood test shows low iron.
Food sources: nettle, spinach, kelp noodles, spirulina, kale, shellfish, lentils, beans, molasses
*Supplementation should be used only if a blood test shows a deficiency as high iron levels are toxic.
Food sources: dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds (almonds, sesame seeds), cruciferous vegetables, tofu
Evening Primrose Oil
Best for supporting the female reproductive system and alleviating hormonal concerns, such as PMS symptoms and acne. It also supports healthy skin and hair and helps to fight inflammation.
Evening primrose oil is best taken orally.
Try: Take in capsule form as indicated on the bottle.
More Foods & Herbs for Supporting the Menstrual Cycle
Known for supporting the uterus, this herb is ideal to support cramping associated with menstrual pain. It also contains many nutrients that are very nourishing for the body.
Cramp Bark is best taken orally.
Best use: As a tincture
Also a nutritional powerhouse. A good source of many minerals and different antioxidants. Also a great source of prebiotics to promote a healthy gut flora which influences many aspects of health including menstrual health.
A potent anti-inflammatory which is rich in vitamins and minerals. Shown to support immune system health.
Spirulina, Seaweeds, and Bee Pollen are excellent food sources to help promote menstrual cycle regularity and alleviation of PMS symptoms. These three food sources are great additions to add to your meals to not only support healthy menstrual cycles but health in general by providing your body with nutrient and enzyme-dense foods that may not be consumed elsewhere in the diet.
Try: Add them to your smoothies, salads, oatmeal, or anything else - be creative!
Seed Cycling for Hormonal Support
The premise of seed cycling is using specific seeds at specific times during your menstrual cycle to support the normal production of hormones throughout your cycle. The protocol is as follows:
(If you do not have a cycle, use the moon cycle. Make day 1 the full or new moon)
The seeds may be added in water, smoothies, or other liquid.
Day 1-14: follicular phase
Consume 1 tbsp ground raw flax seeds & 1 tbsp ground raw pumpkin seeds
Day 15-28: luteal phase
Consume 1 tbsp ground raw sesame seeds & 1 tbsp ground raw sunflower seeds
The Power of Food
Food choices are critical to maintaining good health, especially when teen bodies are transitioning and continuing to grow, so incorporating nutritious foods is the diet incredibly important. Processed foods often contain fewer nutrients and unnecessary additives that are not ideal for nourishing teen bodies. The elimination of these processed foods, such as white sugar, refined grains, soda, and salty/sugary snacks, can increase energy and promote better brain function and concentration in school.
When eliminating these foods, it is best to replace them with more nutrient dense whole grains. vegetables, and fresh fruit. Sparkling water with fresh fruit is an ideal replacement for soda, while coconut water is the perfect thirst quencher instead of processed sports drinks after a game. Incorporating fermented foods to support good bacteria in the gut is ideal for teens to maintain a healthy digestive system.
A Few Examples of Healthy Meal and Snack Ideas:
Healthy Meal Ideas:
Wild-caught salmon salad with baby kale
Chickpea pasta with a vegetable tomato sauce
Zucchini crust pizza
Collard wrap veggie burgers
Organic chicken with roasted veggies
Marinated tempeh with buckwheat noodles and sauteed vegetables
Healthy Snack Ideas:
Almond butter with apples
Hummus, and carrots + celery
Freshly popped-popcorn (preferably organic)
A simple berry smoothie with almond milk and added fats (avocado or nut butter to keep you full)
Gluten free toasts with nut butter or avocado
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Beyond a healthy diet and taking herbs and supplements, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is equally as important. Teens have plenty of energy that can be utilized in fun and unique ways to stay active and healthy. Taking a yoga class, swimming, or bike riding with friends are excellent ways to move the body and feel energized.
During the menstrual cycle, there may be times when exercising does not sound too appealing. This is a great time to introduce gentle stretching movements, take time for yourself or gently walk in nature.