Hops

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  • Botanical: Humulus lupulus
  • Family: Cannabaceae
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Hops

Botanical

Humulus lupulus

Family

Cannabaceae

Known as

Hops, Humulus lupulus, Hoppen, Hopf, Hecken-Hopfen, Weiden-Hopfen

Old Use

culinary; medicinal

Collection Times

September to October

Parts Used

fruit, roots

Medicinal

abscess, abdominal pain, anxiety, boils, bladder stones, blood cleansing, bruises, cancer, constipation, convulsions, cramps stomach, cystitis, fever, gallstones, hair loss, laxative, infections intestinal, insomnia, intestinal parasites, menstrual cramps, menstrual problems, menopausal symptom, migraine, nervousness, restlessness, stomach pain, wounds

Heart & Circulation

blood cleansing, palpitations

Hormone & Sexual Organs

menstrual problems, menopausal symptom

Infection & Inflammation

fever, infections intestinal

Muscle & Joints

muscle cramps, muscle pain, spasm

Mind & Nerves

anxiety, cravings, depression, headache, insomnia, migraine, nervousness, restlessness

Respiratory System

cough

Stomach & Intestinal

bladder stones, cancer, constipation, cystitis, diarrhea, digestion, intestinal parasites, stomach pain, stomach cramps

Skin & Hair

boils, bruises, cellulite, dermatitis, hair loss, psoriasis, wounds

Properties

analgesic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, anti inflammatory, diuretic, febrifuge, galactagogue, nervine, sedative, stomachic, tonic

Description

The root is stout and perennial. The stem that arises from it every year is of a twining nature, reaching a great length, flexible and very tough, angled and prickly, with a tenacious fibre.
The leaves are heart-shaped and lobed, on foot-stalks, and as a rule placed opposite one another on the stem, though sometimes the upper leaves are arranged singly on the stem, springing from altenate sides. They are of a dark-green colour with their edges finely toothed.

The flowers spring from the axils of the leaves. The Hop is dioecious, i.e. male and female flowers are on separate plants. The male flowers are in loose bunches or panicles, 3 to 5 inches long. The female flowers are in leafy cone-like catkins, called strobiles.

When fully developed, the strobiles are about 1 1/4 inch long, oblong in shape and rounded, consisting of a number of overlapping, yellowish-green bracts, attached to a separate axis. If these leafy organs are removed, the axis will be seen to be hairy and to have a little zigzag course. Each of the bracts enfolds at the base a small fruit (achene), both fruit and bract being sprinkled with yellow translucent glands, which appear as a granular substance.

Much of the value of Hops depends on the abundance of this powdery substance, which contains 10 per cent of Lupulin, the bitter principle to which Hops owe much of their tonic properties.

Properties & Uses

Hops have a long and proven history of herbal use, where they are employed mainly for their soothing, sedative, tonic and calming effect on the body and the mind. Their strongly bitter flavour largely accounts for their ability to strengthen and stimulate the digestion, increasing gastric and other secretions. The female fruiting body is anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, stomachic and tonic. Hops are widely used as a folk remedy to treat a wide range of complaints, including boils, bruises, calculus, cancer, cramps, cough, cystitis, debility, delirium, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, fever, fits, hysteria, inflammation, insomnia, jaundice, nerves, neuralgia, rheumatism, and worms. The hairs on the fruits contain lupulin, a sedative and hypnotic drug. When given to nursing mothers, lupulin increases the flow of milk - recent research has shown that it contains a related hormone that could account for this effect. The decoction from the flower is said to remedy swellings and hardness of the uterus. Hop flowers are much used as an infusion or can also be used to stuff pillows where the weight of the head will release the volatile oils. The fruit is also applied externally as a poultice to ulcers, boils, painful swellings etc, it is said to remedy painful tumours. The female flowering heads are harvested in the autumn and can be used fresh or dried. Alcoholic extracts of hops in various dosage forms have been used clinically in treating numerous forms of leprosy, pulmonary tuberculosis, and acute bacterial dysentery, with varying degrees of success in China. The female fruiting body contains humulone and lupulone, these are highly bacteriostatic against gram-positive and acid-fast bacteria. A cataplasm of the leaf is said to remedy cold tumours.


Other Uses

A fine brown dye is obtained from the leaves and flower heads. An essential oil from the female fruiting heads is used in perfumery. Average yields are 0.4 - 0.5%. Extracts of the plant are used in Europe in skin creams and lotions for their alleged skin-softening properties. A fibre is obtained from the stems. Similar to hemp (Cannabis sativa) but not as strong, it is used to make a coarse kind of cloth. It is sometimes used for filler material in corrugated paper or board products, but is unsuited for corrugated paper because of low pulp yield and high chemical requirement, or for production of high-grade pulp for speciality paper. The fibre is very durable but it is difficult to separate, the stems need to be soaked beforehand for a whole winter. A paper can also be made from the fibre, the stems are harvested in the autumn, the leaves removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be removed. The fibre is cooked for 2 hours with lye and then hand pounded with mallets or ball milled for 2½ hours. The paper is brown in colour.

Cautions

Skin contact with the plant causes dermatitis in sensitive people. Hops dermatitis has long been recognized. Not only hands and face, but legs have suffered purpuric eruptions due to hop picking. Although only 1 in 3,000 workers is estimated to be treated, one in 30 are believed to suffer dermatitis. Dislodged hairs from the plant can irritate the eyes. Sedative effect may worsen depression. Avoid during pregnancy (due to antispasmodic action on uterus). Avoid with breast, uterine and cervical cancers

Distribution

Much of Europe, including Britain, to W. Asia.

Constituents

Bitter hops (nitrogen-), humulone, humulene, lupulone, lupulin, essential oil, tannic acid, resins, campesterol, stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, eugenol, farnesol, Isovalerinsäure,