In Germany there is a home brewed beer that is flavored not with hops but with a very similar herb, marijuana. I'm sure this isn't legal under some European Union regulation, but it's been going on for centuries and it's drinking marijuana, not smoking it. If you visit the little town in Bavaria where most men drink this beer, you will notice that the door knobs are unusually long. That's because by the time they are 40, men have such enormous breasts and bellies that they either have to stand sideways to open the door or they have use a door handle that stretches out a bit.
Germany has a culture in which nudity is not considered especially sexual. I'll just say if you were to go to the park when the locals were sunbathing and you happened to notice (you're not supposed to stare) men's organs you would see that a daily dose of marijuana causes certain organs to shrink on men and causes their counterparts to grow on women.
Marijuana use can have potent effects on sexual development. It's a source of plant estrogens that lock into the same receptor sites on cells as human estrogen. In males, that's not a good thing. In adolescent males whose bodies are being stimulated by a burst of testosterone that causes the growth spurt, sexual urges, and zits, estrogen from marijuana is especially detrimental. There isn't another time in their lives when testosterone needs to do as much work to help create a man's body. A single experiment with marijuana isn't really likely to be a problem. Even 20 marijuana experiences can probably be overcome. However, smoking pot every day during adolescence can have lifetime effects on a body that stays boyish rather than becoming manly.
Marijuana can have the opposite effect on girls. It can accelerate menarche, the first period. That's not a good thing, since the earlier your first period, the more likely you are to develop estrogen-related cancers later in life.
I realize some of you may not believe this, so I'm positing a link to the science below. Teens and preteens who use marijuana tend to think they are more sexually developed than their peers (first reference), but they actually experience stunted growth (second reference).
What about smoking tobacco and sexual development? For males, it is a combination of smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol before puberty that delays appearance of body hair, appearance of facial hair, and voice changes. In girls, their own smoking before puberty doesn't delay the appearance of the first menstrual period, but it is associated with longer periods and heavier menstrual flow. (This doesn't mean that if you miss your period smoking can make it happen.) However, girls whose mothers either smoked or were exposed to passive tobacco smoke while they were pregnant with them tend to have earlier puberty. Whether the girl smokes has less of an effect than whether the mother smoked before she was born.
Your experience at home and your experiences with your peers have an effect on how your body grows. Generally speaking, if you have a rough home life, you tend to go through puberty earlier, whether or not your body is ready for the corresponding growth spurt.
Just because you have already engaged in some activities or had some experiences that interfere with normal development after puberty all hope is not lost. Here are some things you can do to encourage growth in late adolescence, before your bones close and stop growing.
- No more alcohol, pot, or tobacco until you finish growing (and arguably very little or none afterwards). Don't keep stress on your body.
- Get good sleep. Your brain makes growth hormone when you are asleep.
- Eat enough, but don't eat all the time. Your body needs a break from food (at least 12 hours every other day) so cells can reorganize and make proteins for body growth. You don't need to take up "fasting" as much as you need simply not to eat all the time.
- Don't try to speed up your growth artificially. Injected steroids can ruin your skin, your sex organs, and your ability to control your emotions. If you feel you may have a growth abnormality, see a doctor, but don't use hormones on your own.
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