If you’re a beer drinker, you’ve likely heard of our June Herb of the Month. Hops, also known as humulus lupulus, are most famous for lending beer its bitter flavor. But if that’s the extent of your knowledge of this multipurpose herb, you’ve got more to learn.
Hops belong to the Cannabaceae family, specifically the Humulus genus. The flowers are found in bright green clusters without petals and are primarily harvested in late summer. The plant is mildly aromatic with coarse and palmate leaves that grow along strong vines. Most farmers grow hops upright on tall terraces.
A Short History of Hops
Hop picking became a social phenomenon during the 19th century, when families from Eastern London would take “hopping holidays” to Kent and Sussex. Farmers needed help harvesting huge volumes of hops each September, and many people saw this as an opportunity to vacation in the countryside away from city life They would arrive en masse, and it wasn’t unusual for local hop growers to take in thousands of hop-pickers at a time! Families would stay in sheds or huts around the farms and live as a community with one goal in mind: to pick large amounts of the pungent flowers.
Brewing with hops was an essential part of European life, and immigrants brought the tradition to North America. The cultivation of hops was especially popular during the 1800s in the Pacific Northwest. These farmers employed Native Americans to pick hops during harvesting season, paying them $1.50 to $2.50 a day. Today, 75% of the nation’s hops are grown in Yakima, Washington. The plant has become increasingly popular in the United Sates due to the popularity and pervasiveness of craft breweries. The cultivation of hops continues to bring communities together and forge relationships between plants and people.
Preparation and Usage of Hops
But hops have been used for centuries for purposes beyond brewing. For instance, the vines may be used as cordage, because, just like hemp — another member of the Cannabaceae family — the stalks and vines have strong fibers.
Hops have also traditionally been used in long infusions and herbal extractions to support sleep and calm anxiety. The flowers contain a soft, yellowish powder called lupulin, and it is this naturally occurring substance that contains many of the acids and essential oils responsible for the plant’s calming effect.
Hops also have a cooling effect that may help support a healthy inflammation response in skin conditions. Because of this, hops are often used in topical applications like ointments, compresses, poultices, and washes, either alone or in combination with other herbs.
WishGarden’s Hop-Filled Formulas
Hops are found in many of WishGarden’s products. The most popular is our Sleepy Nights, which combines hops strobiles, passionflower aerials, and scullcap aerials to support healthy sleep cycles.
Similarly, our Serious Relaxer formula utilizes hops to help you calm down after a stressful day and to support and relax a tense or tired body. This potent product also includes wood betony (European) aerials, wild lettuce aerials, valerian root, black cohosh root, passionflower aerials, skullcap aerials, and ginger root.
You’ll also find a healthy dose of hops (along with usnea lichen, bee propolis, goldenseal root, baptisia root, boneset aerials, red root, myrrh gum, and echinacea angustifolia root) in our Kick-Ass Biotic. This all-purpose, multi-strategy biotic formula promotes healthy immune, respiratory, and lymph system function.
WishGarden’s Badass Bitters formula was designed to jump-start your digestive juices. This herbal extraction combines hops strobiles with fenugreek seed, gentian root, orange peel, Oregon grape root, and yarrow aerials to support a healthy PH within the digestive tract.
Lauren Ann Nichols attended The Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism and received her certificate in medical herbalism. She is the owner of Herbal Vice, a small batch skincare company, and grows the herbs used in her products. She is currently a customer service representative at WishGarden Herbs.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.