Hops (Humulus lupulus) Identification:
The hop vine is a perennial climbing plant found wild in many places in the world but mostly cultivated in the U.S. Many angular, rough stems grow up to 20 feet long from a branched rootstock.
The leaves are rough, opposite, cordate, serrated, and three to five-lobed. The flowers are yellowish-green, the male arranged in hanging panicles, the female in
catkins. The name hops usually refers to the scaly, cone-like fruit that develops from the female flowers.
Family: Cannabinaceae (Hemp family)
Other Names: Humulus
Flowers: July – August
Parts Used: Dried female flowers
Habitat: Waste places. Throughout our area. (Alien)
History: Hop is best known as the bitter, aromatic ingredient in beer. It also has a long history in herbal healing.
Chinese physicians have prescribed hop for centuries as a digestive aid and treatment for intestinal ailments. The Roman naturalist Pliny touted the herb as a garden vegetable, the young shoots of which could be eaten in spring before they matured and grew tough and bitter. (People still eat the shoots, prepared like asparagus.
Hop was a minor herb until about 1,000 years ago, when brewers began using it to preserve the fermented barley beverage we call beer.
In North America, the Indians used native American hop as a sedative and as a digestive aid.
Hop was listed as a sedative in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1831 to1916. Throughout the 19th century, it was an ingredient in many patent medicines, including Hop Bitters, a popular herb tonic in a 30 percent alcohol base.
During the 1950s, jazz musicians who smoked marijuana were called “hopheads” and marijuana caused users to feel “hopped up”. Hop is botanically related to marijuana, but smoking the herb does not produce intoxication.
Contemporary herbalists recommend hop primarily as a sedative, tranquilizer, and digestive aid.
Constituents: Volatile oil (mostly humulene, myrcene, B-caryophyllene and farnescene). Plus over 100 other compounds including geraniol, linalool, citral, linionene and serolidol; also a bitter resin complex which includes valeronic acid, lumulone, and lupulone. The oil and bitter resins together are known as lupulin. In addition, condensed tannins; flavonoid glycosides (astralagin, quercitrin, rutin); fats; amino acids and oestrogenic substances; asparagin.
Properties: Antispasmodic, Anodyne, Diuretic, Febrifuge, Sedative, Tonic, Nervine.
Main Uses: Used for insomnia, cramps, coughs, and fevers. Used externally for bruises, boils, inflammation, and rheumatism.
Hops are most commonly used for their calming effect on the nervous system. Hop tea is recommended for nervous diarrhea, insomnia, stress and restlessness. It will also help to stimulate appetite, dispel flatulence, and relieve intestinal cramps. It can be combined with Valerian (for antispasmodic properties) for coughs and nervous spasmodic conditions. The cold tea, taken an hour before meals, is particularly good for digestion. Hops also have diuretic properties and can be taken for various problems with water retention and excess uric acid.
Preparations and Dosages:
Infusion: Steep 1 teaspoon hops in 1/2 cup water.
Hop Pillow: Sprinkle hops with alcohol and fill a small bag or pillowcase with them.
Tincture: Dried flowers – (1:5), 65% alcohol, 30 to 90 drops up to three times a day.
Contact Dermatitis CAUTION: The pollen from the strobiles (female flowers) may cause contact dermatitis.