Herbal Medicine May Treat the Global Surge in Precocious Puberty: Doctors

A surge in cases of precocious puberty was reported in many countries after the COVID-19 pandemic began, raising a need for effective treatment. Some Traditional Korean Medicine (TKM) doctors say that herbal medicine is safe and effective in treating this disorder.

Precocious puberty refers to the early onset of a child’s physical transition to adulthood, that is, puberty. The onset of puberty before the age of 8 in girls and age 9 in boys is considered precocious puberty.

It can also cause the child to be shorter as an adult than they would have been, affect self-esteem, and increase the risk of depression or substance abuse.

These cases in girls have surged around the world during the pandemic, including in the United States, India, Italy, Turkey, and Taiwan, The Washington Post reported in March.

However, the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and increased cases of precocious puberty, especially in girls, is not yet clear.

Related to Obesity?

According to data from the Korean government agency National Health Insurance Review and Evaluation Service, in 2021, South Korean medical institutions with over 30 beds filed 648,528 requests for treatment fees for precocious puberty.

This is a 46.4 percent increase from 442,894 cases in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The number of applications for treatment fees for precocious puberty at medical institutions with fewer than 30 beds was 189,508, double the 94,151 requests in 2019.

Medical doctor and politician Shin Hyeon-young drew attention to this data and phenomenon, saying the diagnosis and treatment of precocious puberty surged with the increase in obesity in children after COVID-19.

Safe Herbal Treatments

Lee Soo-chil, president of Myeongje Korean Medicine Clinic, said that herbal remedies for precocious puberty are safe, effective, and have no side effects.

Lee explained that the American Heart Association warned that drugs that suppress the secretion of sex hormones, the drugs used to treat precocious puberty, increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or stroke.

“Herbs are excellent in the treatment of precocious puberty,” he told The Epoch Times on Nov. 12. “Depending on the individual, the body’s internal environment, including the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonads, is treated in the direction of optimal improvements.”

“[Herbs] can not only treat precocious puberty, but also promote growth, improve brain development and learning ability, and make the immune system reach the best level.”

Lee Hyerim, a professor at Daejeon University in South Korea, conducted experiments in animal models showing the efficacy, safety, and treatment mechanism of Anemarrhenae rhizoma and Phellodendri cortex, two herbs that are often used to treat precocious puberty.

The research results of Lee’s team were published on Dec. 22, 2021 in Plants, a Science Citation Index Expanded journal.

Lee’s research team announced in January that it had confirmed the inhibitory effect and therapeutic mechanism of the mixed extracts of Anemarrhenae rhizoma and Phellodendri cortex on female hormones using a model of mice with induced precocious puberty and network pharmacology.

The research found that the mixed extract of these two herbs effectively delayed puberty and decreased the concentration of luteinizing hormone (LH) in animal models. Long-term safety evaluation confirmed no abnormal sex hormones or abnormal genital development in adult animal models.

The research team also conducted a network pharmacological analysis of the therapeutic mechanisms of the two herbs and concluded that the mixed extract helped regulate the central axis of sex hormone secretion, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.

Epoch Health articles are for informational purposes and are not a substitute for individualized medical advice. Please consult a trusted professional for personal medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. Have a question? Email us at AskADoctor@epochtimes.nyc

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Lisa Bian is a Korea-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Korean society, its culture, and international relations.