Scientific name: Humulus lupulus
“Hops… preserves the drink, but repays the pleasure in tormenting diseases and a shorter life.” – John Evelyn, 1670
We all know the familiar hops flavor in beer, but believe it or not there are some health benefits and other uses for this plant (the female plant)!
- Volatile oils
- Valerianic acid
- Estrogenic substances
- Nervous system aid
- Helps with menopause symptoms
- Aids in digestion
- Anti-bacteria, viral (incl. HIV-1), and fungi properties
- May inhibit cancer growth
- Decreases body fat
- Hops acts as a mild depressant, so do not take while depressed.
- May also cause contact dermatitis if touched frequently.
Cooking with hops is not a widely practice trend yet, and these flowers (called strobiles) are very bitter and… medicinal tasting if you’re not careful. There are lots of different kinds so it’s good to experiment with the variety of flavors available!
(consult a doctor if experiencing any serious conditions)
- Insomnia: add 2 tsp fresh hops to a cup of boiling water, steep for 5 minutes and drink. May also use freshly dried or freeze dried.
- Anxiety and nervous tension: Make a tincture and drink up to 2 ml 3x per day.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: Combine the tincture with other digestive herbs (marshmallow, chamomile, peppermint).
- Chronic ulcers, skin eruptions, wounds: Use an infusion of fresh or dried hops to wash the area at least 1x per day.
Where do you live?
Hops luckily grows quite well in any moderate climate. What’s nice about it also is that it grows fast, so if you’re eager to get your garden looking halfway decent as soon as possible in the spring, definitely add some hops vines, if for no other reason.
Put em in the ground
- Plant a rhizome about 4 inches deep, pointy side up in the spring after the last frost
- Sunny place (at least 6-8 hours of sun each day)
- A trellis is recommended (can get up to 25 feet tall – and will be heavy)
- Nutrient rich soil with good drainage and aeration
- Lots of water
- Put some mulch or straw over the top of the dirt to prevent weeds
- Harvest by late summer
- “Mature hop cones will be dry to the touch, springy, have a very strong aromatic hop odor, and leave yellow lupulin powder on your fingers. Check the cones every day or two, and when you think they are ripe, pick one and open it. It should be filled with thick yellow-gold lupulin powder if it is fully ripened” – Beersmith.com
- Diseases, pests, and nutrient deficiency signs