HOPS (Humulus lupulus)

Family: Cannabinaceae

Parts commonly used: Strobile.

Properties/energetics: Sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic, antimicrobial, astringent, digestive bitter/Cool; bitter.

Systems predominantly affected:  Nervous, digestive.

Uses: First cousin to Cannabis, this herb gives a marked relaxing effect on the central nervous system where it is not so much a tonic as it is a straightforward sedative. Hops generally relaxes the whole body, but it has a specific affinity for the digestive tract. In the stomach especially, it is strongly antispasmodic and also antimicrobial, tending to check fermentive activity that is causing digestive upset. Beside these actions, Hops is also a mild aromatic bitter, and the combination of all these activities makes it very useful for people who manifest a nervous stomach or tend to eat poor-quality foods when under stress.

Combinations: Combines well with Chamomile for nervous stomach and dyspepsia.

Affects on specific body types: Hops is widely used as a sedative and aid for relieving insomnia. It is interesting to compare its use with that of Valerian, another popular sedative, to see how different sedatives work for different constitutional types. Hops (or its glandular powder, lupulin) is useful for nervousness, irritability, and insomnia accompanied by cerebral hyperaemia (a lot of blood and heat in the brain). On the other hand, Valerian is better used in cases of cerebral anemia (weak blood circulation in the brain, which tends to elicit mental depression and despondency). In other words, Hops is useful for those individuals who, when stressed, become red faced, have throbbing temples, and experience tumultuous heated emotion, jealousy, envy, and so on, and for those who tend to brood and sit up at night thinking far too much with a sense of agitation. Valerian, however, is used for those individuals who, when under stress, are exhausted, have a pale face, and tend to back away from the world and become less active. Therefore, Hops is useful for Warrior-type heated nervous system stress and the Seer when he thinks himself into a state of agitation. Valerian, however, is useful for the Monarch’s more depressed, despondent nervous system stress or the Seer when in a state of exhaustion. If Hops is used for the Seer, however, it needs to be combined with more nourishing herbs such as American Ginseng or Wild Oat to be most effective. Addressing a different stress-related topic, to treat premature ejaculation in men having a Warrior constitution, a teaspoonful of Hops tincture taken before sex can work ardent wonders. (Seer men will do much better using Wild Oat as a tonic for this purpose; Monarchs seldom experience the problem.)

Precautions: Contraindicated in vegetative (dull, inactive) depression.

Preparations/dosage: Infusion: 1 cup at night to help induce sleep. Tincture: 15 to 35 drops three times a day. Topical: Soak cloth in a hot infusion, apply where there is hot, throbbing pain, headache, toothache, or heat in the head.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition