Mother Earth's Medicine Cabinet: The Benefits of Hops

More often than not, the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they hear the word hops is a cold beer. Did you know hops is actually a medicinal plant? Hops can help you with some very common ailments.

Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a member of the cannabis family and is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is commonly grown and cultivated for beer making, but there are still people who value the medicinal aspects and grow it for these reasons. The bitter properties make hops very useful when trying to stimulate the appetite. Bitters are used for flavoring alcoholic beverages, as well as non-alcoholic beverages. Bitters are extractions of leaves, bark, fruit, flowers, seeds, etc. They are highly concentrated and only a small drop is needed. Long ago, these bitters could be found on the shelves of Apothecaries and they were used for healing.

5 Benefits of Hops

  • Sleep-Aid: There was once a condition called hop-picker fatigue that hops pickers were experiencing. The pickers noticed that they became very tired easily and it was found then that hops could be used to treat sleep deprivation and insomnia. Traditionally, a popular way they used hops as a sleep aid back then was to stuff the person’s pillow with moist hops. Now you could drink a tea made with hops right before bed and you will rest easy. Since alcohol can interrupt your body’s natural sleep patters, when using hops for a more restful night’s sleep it’s best to use tea rather than beer.
  • Muscle Spasms: Apothecaries used to make a tea using the hops to relieve muscle spasms. The tea is still used to remedy muscle spasms. You can also use the capsules if you’re not a fan of tea.
  • Pain Relief: Using a poultice made with hops is a wonderful way to get some pain relief. It was and is often used to ease the aches and pains caused by arthritis and nerve pains.
  • Cardiovascular Diseases: The more time and research that was spent studying the hops plant the more healing properties were discovered. There is a compound in hops called Xanthohumol, a prenylated flavonoid, which is now used to help those dealing with cardiovascular diseases.
  • Anxiety: Hops produces chemicals that produce sedative and calming effects which makes it great for dealing with anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness.

There are few different ways that hops is prepared for medicinal use. The dried fruits or strobiles can be used to make tinctures, tea, capsules, and tablets.

The leaves are where you find the sedative properties – they contain chemical properties that produce the sedative effects – which not only help relieve stress and anxiety but also provide the sleep-aid. The ethonolic and CO2 extracts reduce locomotor activity and body temperatures but also increase the ketamine which is what induces sleep. This is why people who over-consume beer end up literally passing out for hours. Unfortunately, using beer as a sleep-aid can have a negative effect on your health, so stick to another method. The bitter acids in the hops are not only good for stimulating the appetite but they are also used to efficiently block inflammation.

Hops Tea

To make a tea using dried hops all you have to do is steep 1 heaping teaspoon of the hops in 1 cup of hot water for about 10-15 minutes. This tea is perfect before bed with some honey and lemon.

You can also make different teas using combinations of herbs. Hops works well with valerian, passionflower, and skullcap, which, conveniently, are other herbs that help induce sleep and calmness.

Hops Tincture

Tinctures are simple to make. For this tincture, you simply fill a jar with the hops and pour alcohol to fill the jar. Leave this to steep for a week or so and strain the hops, discard in the compost, and label your tincture. You can use 10-30 drops about 3 times a day to help with any issues treatable with hops.

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me -- once again, such a simple plant that even grows wild that can do so much for us. Before you rush out to the health food store to pick up some hops capsules I recommend doing a little research. Everybody is different and there are people who are allergic to hops.

Articles published by are no substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider before beginning any new regimen. For more information, please visit our disclaimer page here.

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