Hops - Herbal Encyclopedia
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Introduction to herbs

Hops
Humulus lupulus

Source
Hops are the fruiting bodies or strobiles of a member of the cannabis family native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Hops are widely grown in the Pacific Northwest, primarily for flavoring beer. They are also cultivated in Germany; the Czech Republic is famous for its high quality hops.

Traditional Use
Traditionally, hops were considered soothing to the stomach, an appetite stimulant (due to the bitter taste), slightly sedative, a sleep aid, and diuretic. A popular way of using hops as a sleep aid was to stuff a pillow with the fruiting bodies, moistening them slightly before bed to prevent them from rustling and keeping an insomniac awake! A poultice of hops was used to relieve pain of rheumatic Joints and a tea was taken to relieve muscle spasms and soothe the nerves.

Hawthorn is notably absent from medical works and herbals of early-nineteenth-century America and Europe. It came to the attention of the medical profession in the 1890s by means of a single reference in a medical journal. By the early twentieth century, it was a mainstay of heart disease treatment. Still widely used in Europe and Asia, it is less frequently recommended in America.

Current Status
In European phytomedicine, hops preparations are used to relieve mood disturbances, such as unrest and anxiety, and for sleep disturbances. Hops are also prescribed for nervous tension, excitability, restlessness and lack of sleep, and to stimulate appetite. Laboratory studies show that hops have a wide range of biological activity. rhe bitter acids in the fruits are antibacterial. Extracts of the fruits strongly reduce smooth-muscle spasms. Studies have both confirmed and disputed hops' sedative and estrogenic activities.

Preparations
The dried fruits (strobiles), from which a tea can be made, are commonly available, as are tinctures, capsules, and tablets. Hops are often used in combination with other sleep aids or calming herbs such as valerian, passionflower, or skullcap.

Cautions
No side effects, contraindications, or adverse drug interactions from the use of hops are generally reported, though some individuals have experienced a rare allergic reaction or contact dermatitis from the pollen or the yellow powder-like crystals in the fruits.

Symptoms
Anxiety
Insomnia
Lack of appetite

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