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TCM Care for Adolescent Development



Many adolescents are brought to the clinic by their parents for being the shortest kids in the class. They are often a few feet shorter than others of the same age, or even their younger siblings. Somehow, supplements or tonics just don’t seem to work for them. Puberty is when a person experiences the most growth and development and is maturing physically, mentally and cognitively. During this period of time, the physical activity level is high and metabolism is fast. Simultaneously, one can be more emotional and reactive to external stimuli. If immunity becomes weak due to irregular lifestyle habits, hormonal dysfunction can lead to various conditions, such as acne, dermatitis, allergies, insomnia, and indigestion. Early intervention can lead to prompt recovery. However, delayed treatment can negatively affect growth, development, as well as physical and mental health.


TCM has a long history of disease prevention and management, using natural herbs, culinary medicine and acupuncture to provide individualized treatment options. TCM believes that the relationship between kidneys and the digestive system is nature vs. nurture. The kidneys are associated with the skeletal system. The Liver is associated with blood storage. The spleen governs blood flow. Tonics that nourish the kidneys also strengthen the bone. Tonics that nourish the spleen and stomach also facilitate blood and Qi flow, which is beneficial for growth and development. During puberty, kidney and digestive health should be a primary focus.


-Spleen Yang deficiency syndrome: The main issues are poor digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients. It presents as poor appetite, thin body type, and indigestion. Herbal treatment may include ShenLing BaiZhu San and BaoHe Wan.


-Qi and blood deficiency type: Pale complexion, shortness of breath, lack of energy to talk, dizziness, and fatigue. Prescriptions may include BuZhong YiQi Tang and BaZhen Tang.


-Kidney Yang deficiency type: Cold intolerance, cold hands and feet, low energy, and fatigue. Prescription includes YouGUiWan.


-Kidney Yin deficiency type: Insomnia, poor sleep quality, and hair loss. Prescriptions may include LiuWei DiHuang Wan or ZuoGui Wan.


During puberty growth and development, adolescences need various essential nutrients, including protein, calcium, iron, collagen, and vitamins. Culinary medicine, such as bone broth and fish broth, can be very helpful. Meat contains lots of protein that is helpful for growth. Fibers in fruits and vegetables improve digestion and help the digestive system adapt to the increased food intake during this period of time.


Food Therapy

1.  Longan millet yam porridge: Longan 30g, millet 100g, golgi berry 5g, Chinese yam 30g, rice 100g and brown sugar to taste. This porridge nourishes the heart, tranquilizes the mind, improves cognition, and tonifies the spleen and stomach. It is best for heart and spleen deficiency, Qi and blood deficiency, insomnia, and memory difficulty.


2.  Tofu fish head walnut soup: fish head 500g, silken tofu 300g, mushroom 50g, and 3 walnuts. Season the soup to taste. This soup improves brain health, and memory.


3.  Bone growth soup: This is a soup that can be customized to each adolescence’s specific body constitution by a trained TCM physician. It is typically used around a growth spurt to help one grow taller.


Acupuncture is the signature treatment of TCM. Clinically, the following are some acupuncture points that facilitate growth and development: BaiHui, SiShenCong, ZuSanLi, SanYinJiao, HeGu, QiHai, and GuanYuan.


A day’s plan starts with the morning. Adolescence is like a sunrise. Early care at this stage lays the foundation for future health, giving one the most potential to reach any life goals.