Botanical: Humulus lupulus Family: Urticaceae (nettle) - Cannabaceae (marijuana) Other common names: Hop Bine, Strobile
Hops have an extremely calming effect on the body. Use of Hops is an old-fashioned (and effective) way to relieve insomnia and anxiety when nervous tension takes its toll. Hops will also soothe your digestive system and ease cramps and pain.
Hops have been found growing wild in the copses and hedges of Europe, Asia, North America and Australia and have been cultivated throughout the north temperate regions of the whole world. The plant is a hardy, deciduous, perennial climber that thrives in moist, fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade in open positions, and it may rise to a height of twenty-three feet. Male and female flowers are borne on different plants, and the female plants, which produce the scaly, cone-like fruits called "strobiles," are used in herbal medicine and brewing beer. The origin of its botanical genus, Humulus, is somewhat cloudy. Historians have assumed that the name came from humus, the rich moist ground in which the plant grows. The plant's botanical specific, Lupulus, is derived from the Latin, lupus, meaning "wolf," because (as Pliny explains in the first century), Hops will choke and strangle osiers (willows) when growing near them. Finally, its English name, Hops, appears to come from the breweries of the Netherlands in the beginning of the fourteenth century, where Hops were used for flavoring and preserving beer, and preventing bacterial growth. Hops have been used for two thousand years as a treatment for insomnia and anxiety and as a popular food. The Roman, Pliny, described Hops as a popular garden vegetable, somewhat like asparagus. Curiously, several of the plant's medicinal qualities were first discovered by observing the pickers of Hops, who were said to tire quickly, demonstrating the plant's sedative activity. Moreover, its hormonal properties were noted in the elderly female pickers, who said they experienced the return of their menstrual cycles and other youthful characteristics. By the ninth century, Hops were an important ingredient in beer brewing (a use continued to this day). It is interesting to note that although Hops were used for flavoring and preserving beer throughout Europe, the plant was not adopted for traditional English ale, because they believed that Hops would engender melancholy. In 1653, the English herbalist, Culpepper, recommended Hops for skin infections, jaundice, headaches and "heat of the liver and stomach." Several native North American tribes discovered Hops as a treatment for insomnia and pain, and the herb was well established in European medicine by the seventeenth century. Today, Hops are included in many European herbal medicines designed to promote sleep or relieve anxiety and stress. Hops were listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1831 through 1916, and the herb has had some interesting non-medicinal applications. For example, in Sweden, the bine was used in making a durable, coarse, white cloth. It has also been used in the manufacture of paper, and the leaves have been made into a brown dye and included in Hops pillows (said to induce sleep), as well as basket-weaving and wickerwork. Today, the main use of Hops continues in both herbal medicine and as the very important commercial component in the beer industry. Some of the constituents included in Hops are several polyphenols, tannins, flavonoids (quercetin and rutin), a bitter principle (lupulone), volatile oil, humulone (the most important ingredient in brewing beer), phytoestrogens, amino acids, beta-carotene, calcium, chromium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, silicon, zinc,
B-vitamins and vitamin C.
Hops are used as an effective sedative and remarkable treatment for insomnia. Ageing the strobiles for two years allows two of the herb's chemical compounds, humulone and lupulone, to create a substance that is chemically similar to chlordiazepoxide, substances that are included in both Librium and Valium.
Used as a nervine and tonic, Hops has a calming effect on the entire body. It is said to have a soothing effect on the nervous system that is helpful in treating restlessness, anxiety, stress, nervous diarrhea, hyperactivity, fits, delirium tremens and, of course, insomnia.
Hops have been used for centuries to relieve pain. Used both internally and externally, Hops are considered an anodyne and thought to ease stomach pains, earache, neuralgia and toothache.
As a further demonstration of soothing the body, Hops are excellent for the digestive system, calming the smooth muscle and easing muscle spasms (supporting the herb's historical use to treat cramps and menstrual pain). The bitter principle in Hops is considered a fine stomachic and tonic that stimulates gastric juice secretion, which promotes good digestion, relieves and expels flatulence, eases colic, nervous stomach, intestinal cramps, indigestion and nervous intestinal complaints, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In addition, Hops are used to pep up the appetite.
Very important and ongoing research has proven the hormonal properties that Hops were thought to possess historically. Hops are believed to have estrogenic activity, and laboratory studies have indicated that some chemicals in it bind to estrogen receptors, helping to treat symptoms of menopause and other problems related to lack of estrogen production in women.
According to Dr. Qi Dai, assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, a ten-year study found that the particularly strong antioxidant effects of the polyphenols, which may be found in Hops, act to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Hops possess antiseptic qualities that counteract bacteria. As such, the herb has been used to kill intestinal parasites (worms) and treat gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases. When used externally, Hops are included in poultices that are effective against inflammation, boils, tumors, old chronic ulcers, herpes, eczema, wounds, leg ulcers and painful swellings.
As a tonic for the liver, Hops are thought to increase the flow of bile, and the herb was used historically for liver afflictions, such as jaundice.
Hops are used as a diuretic and believed to relieve water retention and excess uric acid.
**Provided itself beneficial in research that involved people, endorsed by Germany’s Commission E for Therapeutic use, Anxiety, Insomnia, Nervousness, Restlessness
*Provided itself beneficial in research that did not involve people, the study could have been done in a test tube, petri dish or animals for Therapeutic use, Cramps, Diarrhea, Indigestion, Infections, Lack of Appetite, Neuroses, Nerve pain, Stress, Tuberculosis
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Disclaimer: The information presented herein by Organic Herbs Medicine Cabinet is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider