Healing Properties of Hops - The Essential Ingredient of Beer
Hops is well known as it is a major raw material in the production of beer. Interest in this plant is growing not only due to the search and creation of beer with new different flavors, but also for discovering and proving new beneficial properties for our health.
Author: Elena Marinova, Master of Pharmacy
You drink some beer and become sleepy... Why is that? In the article you will find the answer to this question, as well as useful information about the of the plant Humulus lupulus (ordinary hops), which has many valuable qualities.
What Is Hops And Which Part of It We Use
Humulus lupulusis a perennial herbaceous plant of the Cannabaceae family. It has a long creeping rhizome, and its stem is rough and has spikes that serve to attach. The female cone-shaped inflorescences are composed of many scales, on the inner surface of which there are essential oil glands (Glandulae Lupuli, Lupulinum).
There are several representatives of the hops genus: ordinary hops (Humulus lupulus), Japanese hops (Humulus japonicus) and Humulus yunnanensis. The female inflorescences of ordinary hops are used, which contain important biologically active substances. They are collected at the end of summer when they begin to ripen (they should be of green color with a slight yellow shade).
Applications of Hops
Hops has many different applications. Here are what they are:
- In the brewing industry - the production of beer is of great economic importance and is growing more and more. Beer is an alcoholic beverage and is made from barley, hops, water and brewers yeast. Each of these ingredients is important for the quality of beer and has a beneficial effect on the human body. Now we will focus on hops, which gives the aroma and the specific bitter taste of beer.
Read more in the article 6 Health Benefits of Brewers Yeast.
- In the pharmaceutical industry - hops is part of the composition of many herbal medicinal products and dietary supplements to improve the state of the nervous system and sleep. In recent years, many studies have been done on other important properties of hops - antitumor, antioxidant, estrogen-like, anti-inflammatory and others, which you will find in this article.
- In folk medicine - to strengthen hair, in acne, to improve the condition of the urinary system, in inflammatory disease, to increase the size of breasts, to prepare aromatic pillows from hops for relief.
- Cooking - hops can be used to prepare delicious appetizers, dishes, and even desserts. It is important to be careful with its bitter taste.
- Cosmetics - hops enter the composition of face masks and many hair products.
Beneficial Effects of Hops in Menopause and Postmenopause
The biologically active substances flavonoids are isolated from the female inflorescences of hops. A representative of this group is 8-prenylnaringenin. This is one of the strongest phytoestrogens known to date. Phytoestrogens are substances derived from plants.
Their structure resembles the female sex hormone - estrogen, therefore they have estrogen-like action. Therefore, 8-prenylnaringenin (as a phytoestrogen) is widely used in menopause and postmenopause to prevent and treat osteoporosis and to relieve some symptoms such as hot flashes. [ref.1.]
You can read more about osteoporosis in the article Which Herbs Improve Bone Strength in Osteoporosis.
Read more about menopause in the article Which Herbs Are Effective Against The Symptoms of Menopause According to Science.
Sedative Effect of Hops
This effect is observed in many beer lovers - you drink one or two beers and you get sleepy. The reason for this is again the hops and in particular the bitter resins (α - acids) contained in the female inflorescences. The mechanism consists in increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid, a transmitter of nerve impulses). This suppresses the central nervous system (CNS). Therefore, soft beer is recommended to help sleep. [ref.2.]
Very common is the combination of valeriana and hops. It has been shown that an extract of a combination of the two herbs binds to specific sites - adenosine receptors in the CNS. This induces and maintains sleep. [ref.3.]
Read more in the article Anxiety and Insomnia - What Nature Has To Offer
Prevention of Cancer
A very important issue in health studies is the detection, study and use of chemotherapeutics (substances that help treat tumors) and chemoprophylaxis (substances that prevent / reduce the likelihood of tumors).
Xanthohumol, which is extracted from hops, has been shown to have such properties. This biologically active substance is chalcone - a type of flavonoid. It is formed in the lupulin glands by a specialized branch of the biosynthesis of flavonoids.
Xanthohumol has a wide spectrum in terms of blocking the main stages of carcinogenesis (the process of tumor formation). Suppression of the ingenuity of cancer cells is due to the ability of the substance to cause apoptosis (programmed cell death) and cell differentiation and blockage of DNA synthesis. [ref.4.]
Read more in the article Useful Properties of Nettle and Does It Have The Potential To Fight Cancer
Antioxidant Action of Hops
Excessive accumulation of free radicals in the body leads to the onset of oxidative stress, as a result of which mutagens are formed. They play a key role in the occurrence of tumor disease. Substances that fight off free radicals are called antioxidants. Antioxidant action of hops extract is also due to xanthohumol. It defuses hydroxide and peroxide radicals, inhibits the production of superoxide anionic radical. [ref.5.]
Read more in the article What Are The Benefits of Antioxidants For Health And Which Foods Are Richest to Them
Other Healing Properties of Hops
This does not exhaust all the useful properties of hops. Here we will look at a few more of them:
- anti-inflammatory action - due to xanthohumol, which is contained in the female inflorescences of hops. This substance inhibits two important enzymes (cyclooxygenase 1 and 2) that are involved in the mechanism of inflammation [ref.4.];
- diuretic action - due to the high content of flavonoids. Due to this action, hop cones are used in cystitis and other diseases of the genitourinary system;
- antiseptic and appetizing - due to the essential oils of the group of sesquiterpenes (humulene and farnesene);
- antibacterial action;
- antifungal action;
Some Recipes With Hops - Beauty, Health and Appetite
Healing oil for hair growth
The oil is obtained from the female inflorescences of hops and helps significantly to activate hair growth. It is sold as a finished product, but before application should be warmed in a water bath. It is then rubbed into the roots of the hair and can spread along its entire length for shine and beauty.
Hops infusion in acne
Place 1 tbsp crushed hop cones in 250 ml of boiling water. The process lasts 3 hours, after which the product is filtered. The resulting infusion is applied on the face and neck in the morning and evening, with the help of a swab.
Anti-aging skin mask
- 2 tbsp of fresh hops cones
- 1 tsp of honey
- 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
Grind the hop cones carefully, then add the remaining ingredients. The resulting mixture is applied for 15 minutes on the face and neck, then rinsed with lukewarm water.
Decoction of hops for internal use
1 tbsp. from the hop cones grind and add to boiling water (250 ml). The mixture is left for about an hour in a thermos, then filtered. The resulting infusion should be drunk in one day in small sips.
This decoction is applied to problems and inflammations of the genitourinary system, to relieve some of the symptoms (for example, "hot flushes") in the period of menopause, for sedation.
Contraindications: pregnancy and lactation, hypersensitivity to hops, in the presence of a disease for which an increase in female sex hormones is contraindicated (because phytoestrogens are contained in hops).
Leaven from hops for pancakes
- 1/2 litre of water
- 3 tbsp of hops
- 1 tsp of honey or sugar
- flour (rye or wheat)
Boil the water and add the hops for 15 minutes. Strain, cool the resulting mixture and add honey or sugar to it. After stirring, add the flour until a thick mixture is produced. Leave the mixture in a warm place for a day. It should increase its volume 2-3 times, and the resulting leaven is stored in a refrigerator.
Summer is coming, and beer is a good choice for a cool drink, especially when we know that the hops contained in it is so useful. :)
- Xanthohumol and related prenylflavonoids from hops and beer: to your good health, 2004, Phytochemistry
- The sedative effects of hops (Humulus lupulus), a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm, 2012, Acta physiologica Hungarica
- The fixed combination of valerian and hops (Ze91019) acts via a central adenosine mechanism, 2004, Planta Medica
- Cancer chemopreventive activity of Xanthohumol, a natural product derived from hop, 2002, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
- Synthesis, cytotoxicity, and antioxidative activity of minor prenylated chalcones from Humulus lupulus, 2008, Journal of Natural Products
👩 🔬 Elena Marinova graduated from the Medical University of Sofia. She has been a pharmacist for more than 2 years. During her practical experience she mastered the preparation of extemporaneous dosage forms and got acquainted with the work in a hospital pharmacy. In her free time she likes to dance, listen to music, and exercise.