Scientific: Humulus lupulus [WikiPedia]
Appearance: Humulus lupulus
is a perennial vine in the family Cannabaceae and is native to Europe,
Asia, and North America. Hops are used in beer-making, to flavor food
and as a perfume scent. The main medicinal uses of hops are as a
sedative, and for restlessness, anxiety and excitability.
Parts Used: The above-ground parts of the plant, dried and cut.
Common Uses: Unlike other
well-established medicinal plants like valerian (Valeriana officinalis,
Valerianaceae), hops does not have a 2,000-plus-year history of
traditional medicinal use within European herbal medicine. The historic
use of hops is interesting as its technical properties — as flavor and
for the preservation of beer — were discovered in the mid ages, but
reports of its medicinal use from that time were not very encouraging.
Hildegard von Bingen, the noted German abbess, herbalist, and author
(1098–1179), wrote in Physica, a text on observations of nature and
creatures and their virtues, that hops has little use for humans, noting
that it “increases melancholy in men.” However, she notes that “its
bitterness fends off decomposition of beverages and increases shelf
life.” With these antimicrobial properties and its ideal flavor, in the
region of Germany from the 11th century on, hops replaced all other
substances that were formerly used to attempt to improve the taste and
increase the storage time of beer. The Reinheitsgebot (the German beer
purity law) was formulated in 1516, which stated that beer could be made
only of malt, hops, and water. (Yeast, an obviously essential
ingredient to create the fermentation process, was not known at that
time, nor the chemical processes that take place during the brewing
The chemicals in hops seem to have weak effects
similar to the hormone estrogen. Some chemicals in hops also seem to
reduce swelling, prevent infections, and cause sleepiness. Hops is
therefore commonly used orally for anxiety, sleep disorders such as the
inability to sleep (insomnia) or disturbed sleep due to rotating or
nighttime work hours (shift work disorder), restlessness, tension,
excitability, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
nervousness, irritability, and symptoms of menopause among other uses.
But there is limited scientific evidence to support using hopes for any
of these conditions.
Alternatives and Adjuncts:
Topic Specific References:
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and
other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe
and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any
other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.
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