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Humulus lupulus (syn. H. americanus)
Cannabaceae (Hemp Family)
The genus name Humulus derives from the Latin humus, "earth," in reference to the manner in which the plant creeps across the ground. The species name lupulus comes from the Latin lupus, "wolf," in reference to the plant's aggressive growth, which tends to smother other plants around it. The common name hops comes from the Latin hoppan, "to climb," in reference to the plant being a climbing vine.
Range of Appearance
Native to Eurasia and North America, hops is a dioecious perennial vine that can grow to 30 feet in length. It is common in damp woodlands and hedgerows. It has prickly stems and opposite, threeor five-lobed leaves. The aromatic fruiting cones, called strobiles, have a yellowish green color. The plant is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers form on different plants. The male flowers form long racemes, while the female flowers form small, round heads, which mature into conelike formations.
Strobile (female inflorescence)
Anaphrodisiac, anodyne, anthelmintic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aperient, astringent, cholagogue, diuretic, febrifuge, galactagogue, hypnotic, lithotriptic, muscle relaxant, nervine, sedative, soporific, stomachic
The ancient Hebrews used hops to prevent the plague. Hops clear heat and toxins, nourishes yin, restrains infection, aids digestion, calms the spirit and the nerves, and encourages sleep. It has a strong effect on hormones, a fact that was first noticed when female gatherers of the plants would menstruate earlier in their cycle. It is known to quiet excessive sexual desire, especially in men. Hops have been used to treat abscesses, acne, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, boils, cancer, chorea, Crohn's disease, cystitis, delirium tremens, eczema, excessive sex drive, headache, hysteria, indigestion, insomnia, irritable bowel, jaundice, mastitis, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, neuralgia, pain, restlessness, rheumatism, nervous stomach, stress, tuberculosis, urinary stones, and worms. Alcohol extracts of hops have been used successfully to treat dysentery, leprosy, and tuberculosis. Topically, hops poultices can be used to treat boils, bruises, cysts, earache, eczema, headaches, inflammation, rash, sprains, toothache, tumors, and wounds. Hops can be mixed with eucalyptus and peppermint in a salve to use as a chest rub to quiet a cough. In hair rinses, hops reduce dandruff and highlights brunette; in lotions, it softens the skin. It also makes a relaxing bath herb.
The strobiles are not generally considered edible, except as tea and for flavoring waters and beers. The young leaves (before they have opened) and fleshy rhizomes can be eaten, as can the tips of the shoots, which are eaten in spring, like asparagus.
In ancient times hops was used, much like its close relative hemp, to make rope, bedding, cloth, and paper. Some like to smoke hops for their sedative effect. Hops also can be made into sachets and placed in pillowcases as a sleeping aid and to prevent nightmares. Abraham Lincoln and King George III are both said to have slept with hops pillows. However, the most well-known use of hops is inmaking beer, for which hops have been used since the Middle Ages; it functions as a preservative and also imparts a bitter flavor. A brown dye can be made from the flowers and leaves. The essential oil is used in perfumery.
Sulfur, B-complex vitamins, flavonoids (quercitin, rutin), humulone, lupulone, lupulinic acid, bitter principle (lupulin), essential oil, valerianic acid, valeric acid, myrcene, phytoestrogens, methylbutenol
Avoid during pregnancy and in cases of depression. Use in conjunction with pharmaceutical sedatives only under the guidance of a qualified health-care professional, as it may exacerbate their effects. Fresh hops plants may cause contact dermatitis and allergic reactions in some individuals, and tiny hairs from the plant can irritate the eyes if they come in contact with them.
Plant details were provided by iPlant by Brigitte Mars.