Where have you heard of hops before? Likely, the answer is from beer commercials. Truly hops has been used in beer making for centuries. In fact, in the Middle Ages, beer brewing was essential, so much so that most villages had a brewery, hops garden, and barley field. This was because the water–the natural elixir of life–in these places was tainted, and the alcohol in the beer made the water safer to drink. In fact, even the English navy (not to mention the famed pirates), when on extended voyages, carried on board their vessels “small beer” (a weak beer with low alcohol content) and rum to help keep algae and slime from propagating the water casks.
Hops, however, is not only good for brewing a good ale. When used as a tea or in a tincture or nutritional supplement, the hops flower promotes healthy restful sleep. Back in 1917, our founder, Joseph Meyer, wrote about hops in his flagship book, “The Herbalist.” Here is that excerpt:
Hops (Humulus Lupulus)
Medicinal part: The strobiles or cones
Description: This well-known twining plant has a perennial root, with many annual angular stems. The leaves are opposite, deep green, serrated, venated, and very rough. The flowers are numerous and of a greenish color. Fruit a strobile.
This plant is found in China, The Canary Islands, all parts of Europe, and in many places in the United States. It is largely cultivated in England and the United States for its cones or strobiles, which are used medicinally, and in the manufacture of been, ale, and porter. The odor of hops is peculiar and somewhat agreeable, their taste slightly astringent and exceedingly bitter. They yield their virtues to boiling water, but a better solvent than water is diluted alcohol. Lupulin is the yellow powder procured by beating or rubbing the strobiles, and then sifting out the grains which form about one-seventh part of the hops. Lupulin is in the globose kidney-shaped grains, golden yellow and somewhat transparent, and preferable to the hops itself. Lupulite is the bitter principle of hops, and is obtained by making an aqueous solution of Lupulin.
Properties and Uses: Hops are tonic, hyponotic, febrifuge, antilithic, and anthelmintic. They are principally used for their sedative or hypnotic action–producing sleep, removing restlessness, and abating pain, but sometimes failing to do so. A pillow stuffed with hops is a favorite way for inducing sleep. The tea or tincture is used and does not disorder the stomach nor cause constipation, as with some preparations. Externally, in the form of fomentation along, or combined with Boneset or other bitter herbs, it has proved beneficial as an applications for bruises, etc. An ointment made by boiling two parts of Stramonium leaves and one of Hops in lard is an excellent application in skin irritation and itching.
Dose: A teaspoonful of the flowers cut small or granulated to a cup of boiling water. Drink cold one cupful during the day, a large mouthful at a time; of the tincture 5 to 20 min.
Hops Pillow: Fill a small pillowcase with Hops, which have been sprinkled with alcohol, to bring out the active principle.
Today, you can still find hops being used for its sleep-promoting properties. Check out some of Botanic Choice’s hops supplements and teas today!