Hops is a climbing plant well-known for composing one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages on the planet, beer.
However, it does carry medicinal benefits that can be exploited in order to achieve improvements in health and well-being, acting as a natural relaxant and bactericide and in the solution of cardiovascular problems.
Several studies have been able to prove its effectiveness in preventing and combating numerous diseases. And if you think you’ll need to live with a glass of draft beer in your hand for that, you’re wrong! It is possible to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of hops by alternative means: drinking tea is one of them.
Benefits of hops
Hops contain xanthohumol, a substance that has anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant properties , which fights viruses in general and also prevents the formation of tumors. It also has use in promoting sleep and fighting anxiety.
The use of hops can act in the treatment of insomnia , as it has a calming, antispasmodic and sleeping action. It also acts as a natural anxiolytic, fighting anxiety . That’s why you feel more relaxed and less tense after drinking beer (which contains hops in the composition). ( 1 )
The calming action is very similar to synthetic anxiolytics, such as benzodiazepines. Acting on the central nervous system and slowing down its functions.
Thus, when some part of the brain overworks resulting in a state of anxiety, hops stimulate the mechanisms that combat this state of tension, allowing relaxation .
The hop essential oil provides strength and shine to the hair thanks to terpene, which interacts with the part of the hair that is inside the scalp skin and with the natural oils of the dermis, improving the hair’s appearance and health.
These properties act in the balance of the scalp’s oiliness, which prevents good oxygenation, harming the health of the locks.
Xanthohumol is one of the main flavonoids found in the plant and can represent an expressive therapeutic capacity for the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular diseases, such as rheumatic fever and cardiac arrhythmia. ( 2 )
As a powerful antioxidant, this flavonoid can relax the muscles of the vascular system, thus helping to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation in general.
Xanthohumol is believed to be a powerful chemopreventive agent. ( 2 ) It can kill cancer cells and block leukemia cells.
This antioxidant acts as the body’s defense in controlling and combating free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage healthy cells, causing diseases such as cancer.
They manage to neutralize the power of free radicals, preventing their multiplication from speeding up.
The effect of hops on the human body can be compared to conventional antibiotics when it comes to fighting bacteria, being highly potent in fighting infections caused by these parasites, such as intestinal and urinary infections. ( 3 )
The hops’ xanthohumol acts directly against them, altering their structure, and preventing them from dividing and reproducing.
How to consume
It is possible to enjoy the benefits of hops consuming it in natura, adding it to salads, or in the form of tea. The parts used are its cones, which are similar to flowers.
Put 2 tablespoons of herb in 1 liter of water, when the water comes to a boil, turn it off. Cover and leave the solution muffled for about 10 minutes. Next, you just need to filter and drink. Drink 2-3 cups a day.
Tip: Place hops under your pillow for a good night’s sleep. It acts as a natural relaxant.
The plant with the scientific name Humulus lupulus L. is a long vine that can reach up to 12 meters.
It is also known as Engatadeira, Pé-de-roo or Vine-do-north. Your branches need support to scale and thrive. It is cultivated especially in the Northern Hemisphere, where it finds climatic and soil conditions favorable for its development.
Curiosity : this plant has both male and female individuals. It is the flowers found in the female plant that are used to produce beer. They are known as the hop flower .
For medicinal purposes, hop extract can be purchased at health food stores and compounding pharmacies.
Unsurprisingly, the first time hops were cultivated was in Germany. However, today it is also possible to find large-scale cultivation in countries such as the United States, Australia, China and Canada.
Hops and beer
Much of the hop production is destined for the brewing industry.
This is because before hops were added to the beer composition, it had an expressively sweet taste, and spoiled in a short time. Hop bitterness was used to balance the flavor, but not just for that.
Because it has antiseptic action, it fights bacteria, being considered a natural preservative, which allowed for a longer shelf life of the drink.
The base formula to compose a beer integrates water, malt, yeast and hops. The latter being added during the boiling of the drink. The result in terms of aroma and flavor varies according to the boiling time to which the hops will be exposed.
Types of hops
There are more than 100 varieties of hops, however the most widespread are the German and Czech ones, such as the magnum, one of the most produced in the world; the English, like the target and the Americans, like the amarillo, the cascade and the columbus.
They differ in terms of aroma, flavor and bitterness, depending on the way in which the hop flower will be matured. It can be spicy, earthy, floral, fruity, spicy and citrus.
Because it contains sedative properties, if consumed in excess, hops can cause drowsiness and decreased libido. In severe cases it can cause hyperthermia, seizures, restlessness, stomach upset and vomiting.
Contraindications and precautions
Hops is contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding , as well as for patients with diabetes or cancer. Handling this plant can cause dry cough, allergies and breathing difficulties, and should not be exposed to children, the elderly and pets.