Hop is best known as the bitter, aromatic ingredient in beer. It also has a long history in herbal healing and some of its traditional uses have been supported by modern science.
Chinese physicians have prescribed hop for centuries as a digestive aid and treatment for leprosy, tuberculosis, and dysentery.
Ancient Greek and Roman physicians also recommended it as a digestive aid and treatment for intestinal ailments. The Roman naturalist Pliny touted the herb as a garden vegetable, the young shoots of which could be eaten in spring before they matured and grew tough and bitter. (People still eat the shoots prepared like asparagus)
Hop contains two chemicals (humulone and lupulone) that can kill bacteria that cause spoiling.
Infection Prevention. The bacteria fighters in hop also may help prevent infection. Hop is not a major herbal antibiotic but for garden first aid press some crushed flower tops into cuts and scrapes on the way to washing and bandaging them.
One study shows hop effective against tuberculosis bacteria, lending some credence to one of its traditional Chinese uses.
Sedative. For decades, scientists scoffed at hop’s long time use as a sedative. Then in 1983, a sedative chemical (2-methyl-3butene-2ol0 was discovered in the plant. This chemical is present in only trace amounts in the fresh leaves, but as the herb dries and ages, its concentration increases. If you use hop as a possible sedative, use dried, aged herb.
Digestive Aid. Hop may relax the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract, according to French researchers, supporting its traditional use as an antispasmodic digestive herb.
Women’s Health. German researchers claim hop contains chemicals similar to the female sex hormone estrogen, which may help to explain some of the menstrual changes in women hop-pickers. Other studies dispute this finding. Currently the issue remains unresolved.
For possible infection prevention and as a digestive aid, use the freshest hop you can find. For insomnia, use dried, aged herb.
To make an infusion, use 2 teaspoons of herb per cup of boiling water. Steep5 minutes. Hop tastes warm and pleasantly bitter.
Hop is good for anxiety, cardiovascular disorders, hyperactivity, insomnia nervousness pain, restlessness sexually transmitted diseases, shock, stress, toothaches, and ulcers.
Hop should not be given to children under age 2. For older children and people over 65, start with low strength preparations and increase strength is necessary.
Many hop-pickers develop rash called hop dermatitis. Otherwise, there are no reports of harm from this herb.
The FDA includes hop on its list of herbs generally regarded as safe. For otherwise healthy non-pregnant, non-nursing adults who are not taking other sedatives, hop is considered safe in amounts typically recommended.
Hop should be used in medicinal amount only in consultation with your doctor. If hop causes minor discomforts, such as stomach upset or diarrhea, use less or stop using it. Let your doctor know if you experience unpleasant symptoms or if the symptoms for which the herb is being used do not improve significantly in two weeks.