Hops were first used in beer making in 14th century Flanders. They reached Britain two centuries latter, where they were used in medicine for insomnia and for calming nervous stomachs. Native to Europe, North America, and parts of Asia the hop plant is a perennial climber with heart-shaped, finely toothed, lobed leaves and male and female flowers on separate plants in late summer. The male flowers grow in loose bunches and the female flowers are yellowish green, cone-like catkins, are also used to relieve nervous digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Hops are also an anaphrodisiac in men.

The hop plant, Humulus lupulus, is a perennial climbing vine and hedgerow that twines around trees. Belonging to the family Cannabidaceae, hops are extensively cultivated in England, Germany, the United States, South America, and Australia. The hop plants bear a female strobile (fruit) shaped like a scaly cone, covered with glandular hairs containing the resinous bitter principles which make hops so popular in brewing and in medicine. Hops have been used since Roman times in brewing beer and as a nerve tonic and sedative. It has also been used to control diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, where spasms of the smooth muscles play a role.

The main constituent chemicals are unstable polyphenolic principles, primarily lupulin, which contains a bitter acid complex (2-Methyl-3-butonol, humulone, lumulone, lupulone and valeronic acid) and a volatile oil complex (humulene, myrcene, b-carophyllene and farnescene). Also contains tannins, flavonoid glycosides and asparagine. Used since Roman times in brewing beer. Used as a nerve tonic and sedative, and as an anaphrodisiac (suppressing sexual desire). Used for controlling diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, where spasms of smooth muscles play a role. The bitter acids humulone and lupulone have been associated with sedative properties.

Hops, a perennial climbing vine. Hops calming effect on the nervous system is often recommended for insomnia, restlessness, and nervous diarrhea. Hops is best used fresh, as it has a tendency to lose itís potency with age and storage. Hops is a sleep inducing herb.

Hops can be enjoyed in a tea, although bitter at times, a little honey or sugar can counteract itís bitterness and aftertaste. Hops is useful combined with Vallerian for coughs and muscle spasms.

Experiments have shown that Hops relaxes the smooth muscles and acts as a sedative. It has been used to increase breast milk for irritable infants (and probably pass along its soothing effects).

CAUTION: If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your health care professional before using hops products. Not recommended for people suffering from depressive illness.

Parts used: Female flowers or cones.

Active ingredients: Volatile oil containing humulene, mycrene and caryophylline, bitter substances, humulone, and lupulones, flavonols, including quercitin and astragalin, resin, tannins, traces of estrogen-like substances.

Actions: Sedative, tranquilizer, promotes sleep, reduces muscle tension and spasms, increases urine production, bitter (digestive stimulant).

Medicinal use: Given to promote restful sleep and for relief of nervous intestinal conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome.

Preparations: Dried, tablets, tincture, extract.

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