Hops (Humulus lupulus –wolf of the earth) is a species of flowering plant in the hemp family (Cannabaceae). It is used primarily as a bittering, flavoring, and stabilizing agent in beer production. However, hops is so much more than that. It is a strong and gentle medicine used to soothe and support the central nervous system. It quiets the digestive tract and the mind as well.
Medicinal Preparations: take as a tincture or as a tea
- insomnia (inability to sleep)
- tension and nervousness
- attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- hyperactivity in children
- stress and irritability
- menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, low sexual libido in women)
- premature ejaculation in men
- menstrual cramps
- to improve milk flow during breastfeeding
- digestive issues (gastric ulcers, IBS, Crohn’s disease)
- heartburn and indigestion
- anorexia (appetite-stimulating effects)
- diuretic (for reduction of fluid retention)
- arthritis and joint pain
- mild pain reliever (aching muscles, tension headaches)
- anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties
- hypertension (high blood pressure) in men
The main active ingredient of hops is lupulin – a soothing, sedative, and hypnotic agent. Lupulin (a yellow powder tucked into the flower) works as a nervine (having a positive effect on the nervous system) and calming medicine. It has shown to improve the milk flow in breastfeeding mothers. The relaxing effect of hops is evidently due to the alpha acids by-products and its methyl-butenol content. Hops also contain humulone and lupulone, which contribute to its anti-bacterial qualities and stimulate gastric juice production (aiding in the digestion of food). The humulone is also associated with the prevention of breast, colon, and skin cancer. Hops contain phytoestrogen (which acts like the female hormone estrogen in the body) and have been used as a remedy for cramps, swellings, and hardness of the uterus. It contains the amino acid asparagine and poly-phenolic tannins, which make this herb effective in treating inflammation, rheumatism, earaches or a toothache. Hops is a diuretic, which increases the secretion and elimination of urine from the body. Calming the stomach and promoting healthy digestion have been the strongest historical use of this herb. Hops has been used as an herbal remedy for gastric ulcers, IBS, and Crohn’s disease.
Precautions and Contraindications: If you take medications already for insomnia or anxiety (like Tegretol, Dilantin , phenobarbital, Xanax, Valium, Ambien, Benadryl, Doxepin, or nortriptyline), you should not take hops at the same time due to its sedative properties. Since hops is a diuretic, it may affect certain enzymes in the liver. You should talk with your health care provider if you are taking prescription drugs such as Allegra, Sporanox, Nizoral, etoposide, paclitaxel, vinblastine, or lovastatin. Combining hops with other sedative herbs (such as catnip, St. John’s wort, valerian, or kava kava) may result in excessive sedation. Since hops increases hormonal activity, women who had breast cancer or who are at risk for it should avoid hops until more research is done. Hops is not recommended if you suffer from depression.