Medicinal Herbs used in Wildcrafted Herbal Products' Therapeutic Creams and Compounds

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Medicinal Herb: Hops (Humulus lupulus)

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Introduction

A climbing plant native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Hops are the cone-like, fruiting bodies (strobiles) of the plant and are typically harvested from cultivated female plants. Hops are most commonly used as a flavoring agent in beer.

A perennial vine reaching up to 30 feet long. Opposite leaves commonly have three to five coarsely toothed lobes. Tiny male flowers (July-August) are greenish yellow; female ones are pale green, and are followed by greenish to greenish pink fruiting cones (called strobiles), which are covered with yellow glands that contain the hop bitters.


 

Hops

Biological Name:
Humulus lupulus

Family:
Cannabaceae (Hemp family)

Other Names:
Common hop, Hops

Parts Used:
fruit

Active Compounds:
Hops are high in bitter substances. The two primary bitter principles are known as humulone and lupulone. These bitter principles are thought to be responsible for the appetite stimulating properties of hops. Hops also contain about 1-3% volatile oils.

History:
Hops gained acceptance in England as an ingredient in beer and as a medicinal herb in 17th century. American Indians made a sedative from the blossoms, and they also applied heated, dried flowers to relieve toothaches.

Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:
Hops have tonic, nervine, diuretic and anodyne properties. Their volatile oil produces sedative and soporific effects, and the Lupamaric acid or bitter principle is stomachic and tonic. For this reason Hops improve the appetite and promote sleep.

The official preparations are an infusion and a tincture. The infusion is employed as a vehicle, especially for bitters and tonics: the tincture is stomachic and is used to improve the appetite and digestion. Both preparations have been considered to be sedative, were formerly much given in nervousness and hysteria and at bedtime to induce sleep; in cases of nervousness, delirium and inflammation being considered to produce a most soothing effect, frequently procuring for the patient sleep after long periods of sleeplessness in overwrought conditions of the brain.

Used for:
    Anxiety
    Insomnia

Actions:
Anodyne, diuretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, sedative, tonic.

Hops have been shown to have mild sedative properties. Many herbal preparations for insomnia combine hops with more potent sedative herbs, such as valerian.

Hops are most commonly used for their calming effect on the nervous system. Hop tea is recommended for nervous diarrhea, insomnia, and restlessness. It will also help to stimulate appetite, dispel flatulence, and relieve intestinal cramps. It can be usefully combined with valerian for coughs and nervous spasmodic conditions. The cold tea, taken an hour before meals, is particularly good for digestion. Hops also have diuretic properties and can be taken for various problems with water retention and excess uric acid. A hop pillow is a popular method of overcoming insomnia. (Sprinkle hops with alcohol and fill a small bag or pillowcase with them.)

Other indications include:
  • Relaxant nerve remedy used as a sleep inducer, sedative, to relax smooth muscle function, to relax central nervous activity.
  • Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory used for infections of the upper digestive tract.
  • Locally antiseptic when used as a poultice.
  • Used for nervous dyspesia, nervous colitis, palpitations, nervous and irritable coughs, nervous digestive problems, classic hysteria, amenorrhea with nervous association, in males for premature ejaculation and sexual neuroses.
  • Also used for asthma and to treat tuberculosis and chronic bronchitis.
  • Used to relieve headaches and toothaches (flowers heated and applied to face as poultice.)
  • Used to lower fevers and promote urination (strongly diuretic)
  • Also used to expel worms, stimulate milk flow, for leprosy, dysentary, skin ulcers, and frostbite.
Dosage:
The dried fruits can be made into a tea by pouring 150 ml of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of the fruit. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes before drinking. Tinctures can be taken in amounts of 1-2 ml two to three times per day. Dried hops in tablet or capsule form can also be taken at a dose of 500-1000 mg 2 to 3 times per day.

Many herbal preparations combine hops with other herbal sedatives such as valerian, passion flower, and scullcap.

Safety:
Generally considered safe. There are no known contraindications or potential interactions with other medications.

There are some reports of persons experiencing allergic skin rash after handling the dried flowers. This could have been from pollen sensitivity.

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