Hops is a plant identified with the scientific term Humulus lupulus and is part of the Cannabaceae family. It is a herbaceous flowered plant, typical of temperate regions. It grows up to seven meters in height, its stems are long and supple and, thanks to the small spines that cover them, they can easily hold on to any grip, wrapping themselves in a spiral shape. Its leaves are heart-shaped, have toothed margins and are rough at the top. Its flowers have a greenish-yellowish color and grow together in many small hanging ears. The female inflorescences have small resinous glands, from which a bitter and yellowish substance emerges, rich in acids, polyphenols and essential oils. The smaller leaves are used for the hop plant to flavor the soups, the stems to make baskets and the flowers to obtain the aroma. In the spring months the shoots are harvested which are used in the kitchen in the same way as asparagus, with the shoots of hops in fact they prepare excellent risottos and tasty omelettes.
The hop plant grows luxuriantly in many European countries, it is very present also in Italy where it grows spontaneously both in the plain along the hedges and in the vicinity of wooded expanses.
In industry these plants are widely used in the preservation and aromatization of beer, the classic bitter aftertaste of this alcoholic beverage is given by the presence of hops among its main ingredients.
The main components of hops are resin, essential oil, polyphenols including tannin, valerinic acid and flavonols. The medicinal properties are concentrated in the cones, or in the female inflorescences of the plant. The phytotherapy attributes to the hops sedative, toning and aphrodisiac properties. The hop plant is also recognized for its ability to stimulate the flow of blood in some areas of the female genital tract. It is in fact used to improve the regularity of the menstrual cycle. Hops also have an effective anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action.
Hops, in synergy with verbena and valerian, is an excellent adjuvant for those suffering from insomnia. It is also considered a valid aid for those experiencing stress and excessive anxiety. Hops are also recommended to combat various forms of headache and to accelerate the healing of small wounds and superficial skin abrasions.
It is important to stress that the use of hops can negatively interact in subjects taking psychiatric drugs. We recommend using hops, in any case, under strict medical supervision.
In the field of cosmetics, the properties of Luppoline are exploited, an acid contained in the resinous glands of the female inflorescences of the plant, able to restore vitality, brightness and tone to mature skin. The cosmetic company uses this precious substance to create beauty, nourishing and restructuring creams, which help fight wrinkles and sagging skin.
In herbal medicine you can find infusions of hop flowers, excellent for preparing pleasant herbal teas. Two tablespoons of hop flowers added to the bath water ensure a relaxing bath.
Infusions are a valid remedy to stimulate the appetite, to facilitate the digestion process and combat excessive gastric acidity. According to an ancient popular belief, sleeping on a pillow filled with dried hop flowers helps fight insomnia.
With the inflorescences an excellent hop-based grappa can be made at home. 60 gr of inflorescences, 0.5 l of grappa and 3 tablespoons of sugar are enough. The procedure to follow is very simple:
the hops are poured into a container, covered with sugar and left to macerate for a couple of days. The grappa is added, the container is closed and it is exposed to the sun for about twenty days, taking care to remove it often. It is then kept in a dry and dark place for a month, finally the liquid obtained is filtered and stored in the pantry for 60 days. After this time, homemade hop grappa is ready to be enjoyed and can also be used as a digestive.
Hop: Sale and prices
The costs of hops-based herbal products are quite affordable. Those who choose to buy capsules in hops can find practical boxes containing 100 capsules on the market at a cost of around 15 euros. For a pack of 45 tablets of hop extract you spend about 10 euros. The mother hop tincture is more suitable for those suffering from insomnia and frequent states of anxiety: a small bottle with dropper with 50 ml of product costs 10/12 euros. Regarding the daily dose to be taken, it is advisable to seek advice from the herbalist doctor.
In herbalist's shops excellent hops flower teas are readily available, a pack containing 100 g of product can be purchased at a price ranging between 5 and 6 euros.
Hop cones are also used for external use. To alleviate sciatica pain and low back pain, the cones are heated and local applications are made. Against the gout a valid remedy is the cataplasm, or the application on the skin of a vegetable paste, in this case obtained from the boiling in water of leaves and hop cones.