Hops herb, best known for its distinctive bitter flavor and as a primary component in beers, contains many healing properties. Used in the form of a tincture, tea, poultice, pomade or essential oil, Hops acts primarily on the nervous, endocrine and digestive systems.
Hops, humulus lupulus, member of the Cannabacea family along with herbs such as Stinging Nettle, is a climbing plant with a long history of culinary and medicinal applications.
Notable heart-shaped dark leaves shoot from the fibrous stem, while separate axils on the leaves contain male and female flowers. Small clusters of flowers called bracts and a small fruit attach to the ripened female strobiles, which resembles a pinecone, are used in remedies. The female flowers possess phyto-estrogen as well as achene and lupulin, the primary compounds responsible for healing. Health benefits of Hops herb can also be contributed to the presence of flavanoids and tannins.
Hops can be taken internally in the capsule form, as a diluted tincture or infused into a tea; pomades, poultices and essential oils are used for topical application.
The health benefits of Hops can be attributed to the hypnotic, anti-bacterial, analgesic, anti-parasitic and gastrointestinal properties of the herb. Hops herb is a positive treatment agent for conditions and symptoms such as:
- Nervousness and Restlessness
- Pain Associated with Rheumatic Conditions
- High levels of uric acid, as in the gout.
- Febrile Conditions
- Dermatological Conditions and Infections
- Skin Ulcerations
Added to shampoos, conditioners and pomades, antiseptic characteristics can help in the treatment of dandruff and hair loss.
Whether consumed hot or cold, Hops tea makes for a unique tasting herbal remedy. To make the tea:
- Gather 1-2 teaspoons of dried strobiles.
- Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the hops.
- Steep for 10-15 minutes.
Drink up to a maximum of 3 cups a day and refrigerate leftover tea for up to two days. Hops can be infused with other herbs such as Valerian Root, Passion Flower and Chamomile.
Drinking daily may cause stomach and/or menstrual disturbances in some people; in this case, consult a qualified professional regarding continued use.
Take advantage of the sedative properties of Hops herb by drinking the tea before bed or during times of increased stress or anxiety. Additionally, you can fill a sachet with the dried flowers and place under your pillow to increase the quality of sleep and to prevent nightmares.
Drink hops tea to:
- Treat flatulence and constipation.
- Settle an upset stomach or diarrhea caused by stress.
- Stimulate gastric secretions to correct the effects of insufficient acid production.
- Lessen IBS symptoms, utilizing its anti-spasmodic properties.
- Decrease symptoms of menopause.
- Increase lactation in women breastfeeding.
Hops tea benefits can also be external. Infuse the tea and, while it’s still hot, pour into a bowl large enough to submerge a cloth in the liquid. Squeeze the excess tea from the cloth and apply to areas afflicted with arthritis or painful joints. Keep the tea hot by covering the container; re-saturate the cloth and apply as necessary.
Hops tea can also be applied to wounds, minor lacerations and irritations on the skin; in addition, it can be used to disinfect minor cuts and abrasions.
Hops essential oil is often used in aromatherapy or applied topically. In all forms, it remains a hypnotic, calming and sedative agent useful in the treatment of anxiety and stress.
The essential oil can help increase appetite, reduce fever, settle indigestion, relieve skin irritations, enhance mood and induce a state of relaxation.
Always dilute the oil, as its volatile components can result in skin irritations and rashes; experts also recommend using Hops oil in moderation.
Hops herb is common ingredient in many supplements that claim to naturally augment breasts. Some people believe that ingesting hops in any manner, including drinking an excessive amount of beer, will increase growth during a woman’s developmental years.
The association of hops and breast growth is directly related to the presence of phyto-estrogen in the plant strobiles. However, researchers have been unable to find evidence that exposure to the phyto-estrogens found in plants translates into the innate hormonal responses in humans that trigger female breast development.
Although no conclusive data exists to correlate hops and breast enlargement, the presence of a specific phyto-estrogen, 8-prenylnaringenin, has been shown to decrease libido and increase instances of impotency in males who drink copious amounts of beer as well as cause irregularities in the menstrual cycles of women who work in Hops fields.
Hops and Valerian Root
The combined action of Hops herb and Valerian Root on the central nervous system creates a powerful remedy for nervous tension and anxiety.
Valerian is primarily used to induce states of relaxation and sleep. Its primary constituents valepotriate and valerenic act on GABA-A brain receptors, the same sites as benzodiazepines – a class of drugs that includes Valium and Xanax.
Taken together for insomnia, Valerian and Hops improve the amount and quality of sleep without the common effects associated with sleeping pills such as morning grogginess and dependency.
Stress can cause and exacerbate many conditions; in addition to the direct calming effects of Hops and Valerian, the indirect effects of lower stress and quality sleep will increase overall health and wellness.
The versatile properties of Hops make for a safe and effective natural remedy. With both intrinsic and extrinsic applications, Hops herb is most widely utilized for relaxation and sleep. Affordable and easily found at nature stores, Hops can aid digestive, hormonal and skin disorders as well as arthritic pain.