Don't you just love Mother Nature and the way she gives individual herbs so many uses? Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a prime example of just how versatile herbs can be. Since ancient times it has been used for food and medicine as well as in the household. This article explores some of the uses of hops including a simple recipe for making beer.
First though let's look at hops as herbal medicine:
To begin with the herb contains B Complex vitamins and minerals including traces of iodine, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, and iron.
Hops' actions are sedative, bitter, antibacterial (when used topically), diuretic, soporific, and spasmolytic.
The many conditions it treats include nervous or irritable coughs, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, excitability, sleep disorders, restlessness, painful or absent menstruation, and externally it can be used to treat crural ulcers. It treats other conditions too but self-prescribing for these is not advisable.
Simple Herbal Remedies
An infusion of hops flowers can be taken as a mild sedative and applied externally as an antiseptic. they can also be added to any tea to help aid digestion and improve appetite, and when sprinkled with alcohol and placed inside a pillow they will help induce sleep.
Adult Dose Three Times a Day:
Infusion of dried herb - 0.5 to 1g
Tincture 1:5 - 1 to 2ml
Warning: This herb should not be used by those who suffer from depression, and those who work with hops have reported experiencing symptoms very like those that hops treat.
Male flowers can be parboiled and tossed in salads, young side shoots can be steamed and served like asparagus, and young leaves can be added to soups after they've been blanched to remove their bitterness.
Household and Garden
If you like to dye textiles you can boil the leaves to obtain a brown dye. Stems can be woven into baskets, and used to make paper and cloth. Dried flowers add an attractive touch to arrangements and garlands while the whole plant trained on a tripod will provide a pretty screen. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath by making an infusion and adding it to the water.
Boil 75 g hop flowers in 18 litres of water for 1 to 1 ½ hours then remove from heat and stir in 625 g brown sugar until dissolved. Strain in to a plastic bucket that has a lid. When the liquid is lukewarm add one packet of brewer's yeast or two tablespoons fresh yeast, cover and place in a warm place for two days. Skim the top very well and strain through cheesecloth or muslin in to sterilized bottles. Place corks in the bottles and leave in a cool place for several days after which you can drink the brew.
Note: This old recipe doesn't state if the flowers used are dried or fresh but I presume fresh are used.
Until next time...
Proprietor, author, and tutor of The Home Herbalist Online Course.