09 Sep Herbal Spotlight: Hops Flower
Hops Flowers are the female bloom from the hop plant, Humulus lupulus. This powerful plant is a member of the cannabaceae family. It grows with speed and strength, similar to a vine, which makes it an easy plant to grow. The pale green flowers are the part of the plant that is used for medicinal purposes.
The history of Hops Flower started in China, but the first documented use was in the 8th century when Benedictine monks used them for brewing in a Bavarian abbey outside of Munich, Germany. Hops are, of course, famous for their use in flavoring beer. However, before the use of hops flower became popular, beer was flavored and preserved with gruit—a combination of heather, mugwort and other locally grown herbs and spices. Hops flower was used in brewing beer not only for its flavor but for its antibacterial effects in reducing the amount of unwanted microorganisms.
There are a variety of health benefits to the Hops Flower as a treatment for anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. A popular folk remedy for sleeplessness was a pillow filled with these little green flowers. The calming and relaxing benefits of Hops Flower comes from the specific degradation product from alpha acids, 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol, a compound which was historically used as an anesthetic.
Hops Flower contains many antioxidants, polyphenols, and beneficial essential oils such as linalool, which helps to reduce oxidative stress. The herb is beneficial in balancing the mood— easing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Additionally, this herb has calming properties which helps to promote better restful sleep, especially when used in combination with Valerian Root.