Everyone probably has had some experience with hops in one way or another. This lovely sedative herb was made popular by monks who began to brew beer with it for a unique flavor. Beer can be made with other herbs but today this is the most common flavor you will find.
The strobile, a unique kind of inflorescence, is the plant part that is used both for medicine and in beer making. It is considered to be a sedative, hypnotic, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, and astringent herb. One of it’s less well known actions it as an anaphrodisiac which we will discuss in a bit.
Just from looking at the herbal actions you can see that hops acts on the nervous system. It is particularly helpful for individuals dealing with insomnia who need to help relax and relieve anxiety. Because of its antispasmodic effects, it can also be helpful for individuals who are experiencing poor sleep due to poor digestion or restlessness of the muscles.
Hops is also generally not recommended for individuals with depression to use. In this case it may make the issue worse due to the sedative properties. It should not be combined with medications that are also supporting these issues, including alcohol for individuals who are sensitive to the sedating effects of alcohol.
For the sedative effects of hops a tincture or hot water infusion are most ideal. I personally enjoy hops tea and find it to be a great drink to have after dinner to help relax as well as to digest dinner. Hops is often combined with valerian for sleep support and can also be combined with chicory and peppermint to help with pain due to inflammation of the gallbladder. Be sure to meet with a professional herbalist to determine if hops is best for you and what dosage of herbs is best for your current experiences.
Now, if you have never heard the term anaphrodisiac before, this basically refers to an herb that reduces sexual interest, an anti-aphrodisiac. While at low levels, the calming effect of hops may support sexual interest, long term use of hops can increase the body’s natural estrogens. It is said this is why men who drink lots of beer look like they are pregnant with bellies and additional breast tissue. If you are experiencing this, or a reduction in sexual desire, it may be time to cut back on the beer, or at least beer made with hops.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultationsvisit The Dancing Herbalist.com.