Common hop or hop cone is primarily known for being used in brewing. In fact, this perennial or annual climbing plant with a long thin stem, with the scientific name Humulus lupulus has lots of other purposes and can be used as an ornamental plant in gardens, cosmetic products and herbal medicine.
Lots of people characterize hops as long flexible stems of a climbing plant with stiff hairs helping the bines to climb. This herbaceous perennial can grow 15-20 feet and spread for about 3-6 feet.
The leaves are dark green are lobed, heart-shaped. The plant produces special structures called strobiles (flowers or hops). They resemble small, green pine cones. The mature structures are golden brown in color and are harvested for use in brewery.
The plant is native to Europe and southwestern Asia and North America. It prefers sunny locations.
Components in hop cones
Hope cones contain lots of natural components including: ascorbic acid, asparagines, gamma-aminobutyric acid, omega 3, linolenic acid, neochlorogenic, chlorogenic, ferulic, oleanolic acid.
The bitter elements in hop cones are lupulin, humulene, hupulone. They provide special taste to the beer and beverages made from hops.
The plant also contains carbohydrates – fructose and sucrose, pectin, flavonoids – quercetin, kamferol, rutin, stigmasterol, tannins, and minerals – cobalt, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and vitamins – vitamin C, vitamin B2 and B1.
Use in herbal medicine
The hops are the flowers or strobiles or seed cones of the plant humulus. Used primarily for beer production, they can also be applied for medicinal purposes.
The hops are considered having several health benefits. There were some laboratory studies proving that hops can enhance health, provide toning effects and are generally beneficial for overall wellbeing.
The hop cones are often used in the form of teas for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, insomnia, diabetes, arthritis management, and fibromyalgia.
Certain substances found in hop cones called phytoestrogens can provide the same effects as naturally occurring female hormone estrogen. When a woman gets older and starts experiencing menopausal symptoms, she has significant imbalance in her hormones. The levels of hormones change and a woman can have flashes, pain, mood changes and some other symptoms.
The phytoestrogen in hop cones can relieve the symptoms of menopause and actually improve the general female health state.
Sleeping problems and insomnia treatment
Traditionally the plant has been used in folk medicine to improve sleep. Known as soothing plant, hop cones possess great sedative effects to help people with sleeping problems and insomnia.
Hop cones with other components like valerian can be used to treat insomnia and improve the quality of sleep.
Nervous system diseases
The preparations with hop cones can calm the mind; prevent issues related to nervous system diseases. They effectively prevent manifestations of stress, depression, anxiety. The sedative properties of the plant are used to treat agitation, fears, panic attacks. The teas with hop cones are used before bed time to produce tranquilizing effects.
Management of headaches
People with migraines and headaches can benefit from using teas with hop cones. The presence of certain chemicals in the plant can relieve headaches, reduce tension, and improve general health state.
Heart rate problems
The teas with hop cones can help overcome the palpitations and spasms related to arrhythmias and heart rate problems. The soothing effects of the plant reduce muscle stiffness, sweating, nervousness which can produce heart rate problems.
Hop cones in the form of teas can prevent stomach cramps and pain. The intestinal spasms, indigestion, dyspepsia and other problems are treated with hop cones teas.
Regular consumption of teas with hop cones prevents the symptoms of stomach pain and other problems.
Some herbalists suggest that using hop cones in the treatment for cancers and diabetes can be very effective. They believe that certain components in the plant can stop the growth of cancer cells and even kill them. Still more studies of hop cones for these purposes are needed.
People often use hop cones to get rid of parasitic infections. The plant can be effective to eliminate the intestinal worms.
The long-term use of hop cones is not recommended. Some people can be more sensitive to certain components in the plant and develop allergic reactions usually on the skin.
Pregnant women should not use hop cones products.