Herb of the Month: Hops
Hops, or Humulus lupulus, are a part of the Cannabaceae family along with other celebrities such as Hemp and Cannabis. "Humulus" comes from the Latin word “humus" or “earth," while “lupulus” translates to “small wolf.” It gained its name from its habit of climbing on top of other plants, as a wolf does a sheep. Hops are native to North America, Europe, and Asia. They are a “bine” that grows best with the support of a trellis or archway. Once they have the proper growth support, they are relatively easy to grow and harvest! If you have worked with fresh hops before, you will know of the sticky residue they leave on your fingers and their pungent smell! Hops are widely recognized for the signature bitterness and flavor that they add to beer. Hops are known as an aromatic nervine, mild sedative, aphrodisiac, mild diuretic, and antispasmodic plant.
Unlike herbs such as Turmeric, Myrrh, or Ginkgo, the medicinal use of Hops is relatively recent in terms of recorded human history. The first recorded documentation of the use of Hops for medicine dates back to 822 CE in France. Due to their extremely bitter and pungent taste, Hops are most favorably consumed when added to beer, or extracted as a tincture to avoid the excess bitterness that is found when consuming it in tea form. This species produces both male and female plants! For our purposes in herbal medicine, the cone-shaped flowers of the female Humulus lupulus plant are harvested. Historically, the vines of Humulus lupulus have been used for fibers of cords and ropes, and the flowers have also been used for natural dyes.
As the veil between the spirit world and our earthly world thins during October, Hops may help to relax the body and mind so that we may deepen our senses and ease into the change of seasons. Hops are considered a nervine, and may be beneficial for those experiencing insomnia or anxiety, especially when due to stress. Lupulin, the sticky residue on the female flowers, is specifically leaned upon for sleep aid due to its chemical ability to induce sleepiness and decrease nervousness and anxiety. It's no wonder beer makes you sleepy! So when Oktoberfest celebrations roll through town, you will know who is responsible for your early night…why, Humulus lupulus, of course!
For sluggish digestion, loss of appetite, and bloating, the bitter acids and polyphenols within the lupulin of Hops are able to stimulate digestion and bile production that help to relieve stomach complaints, especially in the upper gastric region. Some studies even show that Hops may be antibiotic and antiseptic. Topical use includes treatment for skin irritations, such as eczema. Energetically, Hops are cooling and drying so they may help to balance those with damp heat constitutions in the body. Additionally, Hops are phytoestrogenic and may help to balance menopausal symptoms and hormones.
Although Humulus lupulus may not have the most extensive recorded history, it has widely gained recognition through modern studies and the rise of craft beer culture in the United States, and the continuation of Oktoberfest celebrations worldwide. And undeniably, this herb surely has a magical name! Hops are a fun herb to experiment with in our own herbal practices, especially during the time of year when we are beginning to slow down for winter and relax into our intuition.. Try Hops in one of our signature Herb Shoppe blends, such as our Sweet Slumber tea and tincture, or in our Hops Infused Oil for all of your bedtime routine needs!
Forêt, R. (n.d.). Hops monograph. HerbRally. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/hops
Koetter , U., & Biendl, M. (n.d.). Hops (Humulus Lupulus). Hops (humulus lupulus): A review of its historic and medicinal uses - American botanical council. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/87/table-of-contents/article3559/
RxList. (2021, June 11). Hops: Health benefits, side effects, uses, Dose & precautions. RxList. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://www.rxlist.com/hops/supplements.htm#:~:text=Dosing-,Overview,)%2C%20nervousness%2C%20and%20irritability.
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