Hops are most commonly known for being an ingredient in beer. Hops are what gives beer its bitter taste. You might be surprised to learn that hops is not only used in beer. Hops have been an integral part of herbal healing, having some of its traditional uses supported by today’s modern science. The hop is a flower that grows in clusters. The flowers look like green cones and were first cultivated on a regular basis in the 8th or 9th century AD in Bavaria’s Bohemian gardens, as well as other parts of Europe. The hop plant is normally trained so they grow up strings in commercial fields known as hop gardens, hop fields, or hop yards.
What else is it in?
Along with being an ingredient in beer, hops are also found in other beverages, such as a carbonated drink called Julmust. This beverage is very much like soda and is a popular drink in Sweden. The oils and extracts found in the hops plant are used in a variety of different products. These oils and extracts are used to flavor candy, gelatin, and yeast. They’re also used in pudding, ice creams chewing gum, baked goods, and a variety of condiments.
What are the benefits?
There are quite a few health benefits of hops. A sedative chemical was found in the hops plant in 1983. For several decades before this discovery was made, scientists didn’t believe that hops could be taken as a sedative. There are small traces of this sedative chemical located in the fresh leaves of the plant. As the leaves dry and age, the concentration of the chemical increases. A sedative is different from a sleep aid, as a sedative is designed to relax you and not put you to sleep. Sedatives are used to relieve anxiety. Along with anxiety, hops are also good for cardiovascular disorders, hyperactivity, shock, ulcers, and toothaches.
Women who are going through menopause, might find that taking hops can be beneficial. German scientists have conducted research on hops, and have found that the plant contains hormones that are very similar to estrogen. Because of this discovery, hops might help relieve some of the symptoms of menopause. The same research also discovered hops may be able to alleviate pain from arthritis as well. There are anti-inflammatory properties found in the hops herb that can help arthritis patients.
A unique benefit of taking hops is its ability to treat dandruff. In extract form, hops can be rubbed into the scalp to help treat this issue. Shampoo your hair as you normally would, then apply the hops extract. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it out thoroughly with plain water. This can be a preventative treatment as well as a way to get rid of the problem.
Hops can have an effect on a person’s risk of getting cancer. Oregon State researchers extracted flavonoids from hops and tested it in the treatment for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and colon cancer. The researchers found some evidence that suggests the flavonoids found in hops may cut a person’s risk of getting these types of cancers. These flavonoids also neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals destroy cells in the body, and promote early age signs such as wrinkles.
While there are some health benefits of hops, there are also some precautions when consuming the herb. Hops can lower blood sugar levels by a significant amount that could cause hypoglycemia in diabetics. Hops should never be given to young children, particularly children under two years old. The FDA has deemed hops as being safe for healthy women who are not pregnant or nursing, and adults who are not using another type of sedative. For older children and adults over the age of 65, a lower dose is recommended.
Taking too much of this herb can result in several issues including upset stomach, diarrhea, confusion, vomiting, and seizures. It’s best to consult with a doctor before experimenting with this herb, especially if you’re taking other medications. Because of the benefits of this herb, and the fact that hops is an ingredient in beer, does not give you a license to drink more beer. Use caution when drinking alcohol. It’s OK to drink a beer or two from time to time, just don’t go over board.
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