Hops (Humulus lupulus)
The real hop is an ancient cultivated plant from the hemp family. The perennial climbing plant of the temperate regions of Europe and Asia can reach a height of 3 to 6 metres. There are female and male plants. The so-called hop cones of the female flowers are used for brewing beer as well as for medicinal purposes.
The bitter hops are an important beer ingredient, serving both to flavour and to preserve beer.
The value-determining constituents of hop cones are 15 – 30 % resin (including the bitter substances humulone and lupulone), plant pigments, phenolic acids, flavonoids and essential oil. They have a calming effect as well as sleep-inducing, antibacterial, appetite and digestion stimulating effects. In addition, hops are said to have an oestrogen-like effect. Experiments have also shown anticancer and antioxidant effects.
A tried-and-tested medicinal plant combination for restlessness or sleep disorders is the one made from extracts of hops and valerian root.
Folk medicine uses hops for menopausal complaints as well as for irritable bladder and nocturnal enuresis.
Recent studies indicate possible effects of hops in enhancing the effectiveness of antibiotics and chemotherapeutics.