I am a huge fan of using Humulus lupulus medicinally. Sure it's a great natural preservative, it imparts a bitter flavor and hoppy taste, and can also stabilize the head of foam on your beer, but did you also know that hops are tonic, soporific, nervine, anodyne, and anti-microbial plants?
My favorite uses for Hops are as a digestive tonic and a sedative. Their bitter quality has been known for centuries to tonify the functions of the digestive system and improve the appetite. Recently, I found an old prescription for 2-3 small cups of Hops tea taken daily in the spring in order to strengthen sluggish livers (probably sluggish after drinking too much beer during the cold winters in the British Isles). As a sedative, Hops has been used for sleeplessness, especially the type associated with a nervous constitution or for someone who is a little too "stuck" in their head. The herb is wonderful at being able to calm someone down without shutting the body down or causing any of the usual problems associated with more extreme sedatives (think hangover the next morning--just not beer induced!). Hops are one of the main herbs in WishGarden Herbs' Sleepy Nights formula for this exact reason. We want to have a nice, gentle, calming formula that helps relieve occasional sleeplessness, without being too strongly sedative. For that reason our formula has no Valerian or Kava, on purpose. Most of the sleep problems we have are associated with the overthinking mind and our inability to turn off those pesky thoughts. Sleepy Nights is specifically formulated to be a traditional "hypnotic," a nervine formula that aids in in turning off the mental process and helps the body to fall asleep gracefully. It can be used at any point in time during the middle of the night, and is one of our acute symptom relievers, so be sure to follow the instructions. You could try drinking a hoppy beer to help you fall asleep, but Sleepy Nights works a whole lot faster. Happy dreaming!
Hops belong to the Cannabaceae family, specifically the Humulus genus. The flowers are found in bright green clusters without petals and are primarily harvested in late summer. The plant is mildly aromatic with coarse and palmate leaves that grow along strong vines. Most farmers grow hops upright on tall terraces.
A Short History of Hops
Hop picking became a social phenomenon during the 19th century, when families from Eastern London would take "hopping holidays" to Kent and Sussex. Farmers needed help harvesting huge volumes of hops each September, and many people saw this as an opportunity to vacation in the countryside away from city life. They would arrive en masse, and it wasn’t unusual for local hop growers to take in thousands of hop-pickers at a time! Families would stay in sheds or huts around the farms and live as a community with one goal in mind: to pick large amounts of the pungent flowers.
Brewing with hops was an essential part of European life, and immigrants brought the tradition to North America. The cultivation of hops was especially popular during the 1800s in the Pacific Northwest. These farmers employed Native Americans to pick hops during harvesting season, paying them $1.50 to $2.50 a day. Today, 75% of the nation’s hops are grown in Yakima, Washington. The plant has become increasingly popular in the United Sates due to the popularity and pervasiveness of craft breweries. The cultivation of hops continues to bring communities together and forge relationships between plants and people.
Preparation and Usage of Hops
But hops have been used for centuries for purposes beyond brewing. For instance, the vines may be used as cordage, because, just like hemp — another member of the Cannabaceae family — the stalks and vines have strong fibers.
Hops have also traditionally been used in long infusions and herbal extractions to support sleep and calm anxiety. The flowers contain a soft, yellowish powder called lupulin, and it is this naturally occurring substance that contains many of the acids and essential oils responsible for the plant’s calming effect.
Hops also have a cooling effect that may help support a healthy inflammation response in skin conditions. Because of this, hops are often used in topical applications like ointments, compresses, poultices, and washes, either alone or in combination with other herbs.
WishGarden’s Hop-Filled Formulas
Hops are found in many of WishGarden’s products. The most popular is our Sleepy Nights, which combines hops strobiles, passionflower aerials, and scullcap aerials to support healthy sleep cycles.
Similarly, our Serious Relaxer formula utilizes hops to help you calm down after a stressful day and to support and relax a tense or tired body. This potent product also includes wood betony (European) aerials, wild lettuce aerials, valerian root, black cohosh root, passionflower aerials, skullcap aerials, and ginger root.
You’ll also find a healthy dose of hops (along with usnea lichen, bee propolis, goldenseal root, baptisia root, boneset aerials, red root, myrrh gum, and echinacea angustifolia root) in our Kick-Ass Biotic. This all-purpose, multi-strategy biotic formula promotes healthy immune, respiratory, and lymph system function.
WishGarden’s Badass Bitters formula was designed to jump-start your digestive juices. This herbal extraction combines hops strobiles with fenugreek seed, gentian root, orange peel, Oregon grape root, and yarrow aerials to support a healthy PH within the digestive tract.
WishGarden Herbs' formulas containing Hops: