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Herb Reference Guide

Hops

History

There are about 170 species in the Cannabaceae family but the Hops plant and the cannabis plant are without a doubt winning the popularity contest. Hops are a perennial climbing plant, which dies back in the fall and produces new shoots in the spring. The mature female flower cones of the vine known as Hops Strobiles, have been dried and used in the production of beer. Reinheitsgebot German Purity Law adopted in 1516, states, "The only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be barley, hops, yeast and water". Hops impart a bitter flavor and balance the sweetness of the malt, and also contain naturally occurring chemicals that keep bacterial growth in check. Hops also contribute floral, citrus, and herbal aromas and flavors to beer. The first historical mention of the use of hops in beer was from 822 AD in monastery rules written by Adalhard the Elder.

Function

The resins contained in hops flowers lupulon and humulon have been linked with normalizing bacterial growth and contribute to the use of hops in the fermentation process used to make beer. Hops also contain appreciable amounts of plant estrogens. It has been observed in female hops pickers an absence of or delay in menses theoretically related to high exposure to estrogens in the hops. This effect should indicate that excessive beer consumption in men may not add to their virility at all! Hops have also been used to support deep and restful sleep, support a healthy response to stress, and help promote relaxation.

Uses of Hops

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Volatile oils; humulene, geraniol, linalol, myricin, luparol, luparenol. Bitter Resin complexes; valerianic acid, humulon, lupulon. Tannins, estrogenic substances, asparagine, and choline.

Parts Used

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

Additional Resources

Hansel, R., Schmidt, H., and Wohlfart, R. (1983) Planta Medica, Stuttgart, 48, pp.120-23
Unger, Richard W. (2004). Beer in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 100.
The pharmacognosy of Humulus lupulus L. (hops) with an emphasis on estrogenic properties
L. R. Chadwick, G. F. Pauli, N. R. Farnsworth
Phytomedicine. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2007 April 17.
Published in final edited form as: Phytomedicine. 2006 January; 13(1-2): 119ľ131. Published online 2005 July 1. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2004.07.006
PMCID: PMC1852439