Skip to content

Hops (Humulus lupulus)

    Family: Cannabaceae

    Grow zone: 4-8

    Hops (Humulus lupulus) are primarily known for their use in brewing beer, but they have also been explored for their potential therapeutic effects on mental health, including depression and anxiety. However, it’s important to note that while hops may offer some benefits, scientific research on their specific effects in treating these conditions is limited, and they should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

    Here are some points to consider regarding the use of hops for depression and anxiety:

    1. Calming and sedative properties: Hops are known to contain various bioactive compounds, including bitter acids and essential oils. These compounds are believed to possess sedative and calming effects, which may help promote relaxation and relieve anxiety. Hops are sometimes used in herbal teas or tinctures for their potential relaxing properties.
    2. Sleep aid: Hops are often included in herbal remedies and sleep aids due to their potential to improve sleep quality. Sleep disturbances are common symptoms associated with depression and anxiety, and better sleep can indirectly contribute to improved mental well-being.
    3. Limited scientific evidence: The scientific research on the use of hops specifically for depression and anxiety is limited. Most of the available evidence comes from preclinical (animal and laboratory) studies or anecdotal reports. While these studies suggest potential benefits, more rigorous clinical trials on humans are needed to establish the effectiveness and safety of hops for these conditions.
    4. Individual responses may vary: Different individuals may respond differently to herbal remedies like hops. Some people may find them beneficial for managing symptoms of depression and anxiety, while others may not experience significant effects. Factors such as personal sensitivity, individual biochemistry, and placebo response can influence the subjective experience.
    5. Safety precautions: While hops are generally considered safe when used in moderation, they may cause side effects in some individuals, including drowsiness, stomach upset, and allergic reactions. Hops can also interact with certain medications, especially those with sedative properties or affecting the central nervous system. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before using hops or hop-containing products, particularly if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.
    6. Complementary approach: If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it is essential to seek professional help from a healthcare provider or mental health professional. They can provide a comprehensive assessment of your condition and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of approaches. Hops, if used, should be seen as a complementary or supportive therapy rather than a standalone treatment.

    Medicinal Effects:

    How to grow and harvest

    Growing and harvesting hops can be an enjoyable and rewarding process, especially if you have a suitable climate and space for their cultivation. Here are some general guidelines to help you get started:

    1. Climate and location: Hops are typically grown in regions with a temperate climate. They require long summer days with abundant sunlight and cool nights. Ideally, the average annual temperature should be between 8-28°C (46-82°F). Hops also need sturdy support structures to grow on, such as trellises or strings.
    2. Selecting hop varieties: There are numerous hop varieties available, each with unique characteristics in terms of flavor, aroma, and brewing characteristics. Choose varieties that suit your taste preferences and brewing goals. Consider factors like disease resistance, growth habits, and local climate suitability when selecting hop varieties.
    3. Planting: Hops are usually propagated from rhizomes or hop crowns. Rhizomes are root cuttings, while crowns are small hop plants. Plant them in spring, after the threat of frost has passed. Prepare well-draining soil with organic matter and ensure the chosen location receives ample sunlight. Space the plants approximately 2-3 feet apart.
    4. Support structures: Hops are vigorous climbers and require vertical support to grow. Install a sturdy trellis system or erect strings for the plants to climb. The trellis should be at least 15 feet high, allowing the hop bines (vines) to grow vertically.
    5. Watering and fertilization: Hops require regular watering, particularly during dry periods. However, they should not be waterlogged. Ensure the soil remains consistently moist but not saturated. Fertilize the plants with a balanced fertilizer or compost annually to provide necessary nutrients.
    6. Pruning and training: As the hop plants grow, train the bines to climb the trellis or strings. Remove side shoots or lateral branches to allow energy to be focused on the main bine. Prune any damaged or diseased parts of the plant. Regularly check for pests and take appropriate measures to control them.
    7. Harvesting: Hops are typically harvested in late summer or early autumn when the cones (flowers) are mature and ready for use in brewing. The cones should feel dry to the touch and have a strong aroma. Harvesting can be done by hand-picking the cones or using mechanical methods. Carefully remove the cones from the bines and dry them promptly to prevent spoilage and mold.
    8. Drying: After harvest, hops should be dried to reduce moisture content and preserve their quality. Spread the cones in a thin layer on a screen or in a well-ventilated area with good air circulation. Keep them away from direct sunlight. Turn the cones regularly to ensure even drying. Aim for a moisture content of around 8-10% before storing.
    9. Storage: Once the hops are dried, store them in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to maintain freshness. Store them in a cool, dark place to preserve their essential oils and aroma. Properly stored hops can retain their quality for up to a year.

    It’s worth noting that hop cultivation requires ongoing care and attention, and it may take a couple of years for the plants to establish fully and produce optimal yields. Local climate and specific hop varieties may also require adjustments to the guidelines mentioned above. Consulting with local agricultural extension services or experienced hop growers in your region can provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your specific location.

    How to use as medicine:

    Hops (Humulus lupulus) have been used traditionally for their potential medicinal properties. While hops are primarily known for their use in brewing beer, they can also be utilized for their medicinal benefits. Here are some common ways hops are used for medicinal purposes:

    1. Herbal tea: Hops can be used to make a herbal tea infusion. Simply steep dried hops cones in hot water for about 10-15 minutes. The resulting tea can be consumed to promote relaxation, relieve anxiety, and aid in sleep. It is worth noting that hops have a bitter taste, so you may want to combine them with other herbs or add honey for flavor.
    2. Tinctures: Hops can be prepared as a tincture by soaking the dried cones in alcohol or glycerin to extract their medicinal compounds. The tincture can then be taken orally, following the dosage instructions provided by a qualified herbalist or healthcare professional. Tinctures are commonly used to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.
    3. Aromatherapy: Hops have a pleasant aroma and can be used in aromatherapy to induce relaxation and reduce stress. You can place dried hops cones in a sachet or pillowcase and keep them near your bed to enjoy their soothing scent. Additionally, essential oils derived from hops can be diluted and used in diffusers or added to bathwater for a calming effect.
    4. Herbal supplements: Hops are also available in the form of herbal supplements, such as capsules or tablets. These supplements typically contain standardized extracts of hops and are commonly used to support relaxation, improve sleep quality, and manage anxiety.
    5. Combinations with other herbs: Hops are often combined with other herbs to enhance their effects or create synergistic blends. For example, hops and valerian root are sometimes combined in herbal preparations to promote sleep. It is advisable to consult with a qualified herbalist or healthcare professional to determine the appropriate combinations and dosages based on your specific needs.

    When using hops for medicinal purposes, it is important to keep the following considerations in mind:

    • Quality and sourcing: Choose high-quality, organic hops from reputable sources to ensure their potency and minimize potential pesticide exposure.
    • Dosage: Follow recommended dosages provided by qualified professionals or indicated on the product packaging. It is best to start with lower doses and gradually increase if necessary.
    • Individual variations: Responses to herbal remedies can vary among individuals. Monitor your body’s response and adjust the dosage or discontinue use if any adverse effects occur.
    • Precautions: Hops may interact with certain medications, particularly sedatives, tranquilizers, and hormone therapies. Consult with a healthcare professional before using hops medicinally, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

    What else you should know about Hops (Humulus lupulus):