Herb of the Week #4 :: Hops

The holidays are here, the snow is falling today and it’s getting very close to the 25th! I can only assume this means a little more activity in your day and maybe a little more stress in your life? I know I am running around a little more than normal, also why I am posting this on a Friday and not mid-week, like usual. So this week I thought a great calming herb was in order. This week we are looking at a very relaxing herb: Hops


Botanical Latin Name: Humulus lupulus

Botanical Family: Cannabaceae (hemp) family

Parts used: Strobiles

Method: Tea and Tincture

Actions: Antispasmodic, sedative, astringent, anti-inflammatory, nervine, estrogenic

Energetics: Cooling and relaxing

Taste: Drying and bitter

Dosage: 1 tbsp dried herb (or 1-2 strobiles) to 8 oz water for tea infusion and/or 10-60 drops 1-4 times daily of tincture, tea or tincture 1-3 times daily

Contraindications: Pregnancy, depression, active ulcer, estrogen dominance, low libido and those taking phenobarbital

Hops, mostly known as the key ingredient in beer, is known as a very bitter herb. Therefore, it’s great for stimulating the digestive tract, normalizing the gastric juices in the stomach and easing indigestion from anxiety or nervousness.

Hops is also a wonderfully relaxing plant; it can calm the nerves and organs. Therefore, it’s great for insomnia and traumatic dreams (nightmares). It’s also wonderful for easing tension, anxiety and overthinking. It can help with those that have hypertension. It can also be helpful in decreasing excessive sexual desire. This herb is known to be especially great for men. Just note that because it’s such a strong sedative it’s not recommended in large doses for those suffering from depression.

Additionally, due to its calming effects, it is great at relieving lung constriction issues, like asthma, and spasmodic coughing. Hops can also be used for easing physical pain and inflammation, especially in the mouth and teeth.

Additional uses for hops:

  • Calming after an exciting event
  • Colic in babies
  • Nervous exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive sex drive or premature ejaculation
  • Nervous irritability
  • Ear or toothaches
  • Migraines
  • Indigestion from nerves or poor starch absorption
  • Non-obstructive jaundice

How to use hops:

  • Tea can be used daily, 1-3 cups. Steep 1 tbsp (or 1-2 strobiles) of dried herb to 8 oz of water in water (hot or cold) for 3-30 minutes in hot water (longer for cold). The longer you steep it the more the benefits you’ll get from it. I steeped mine for 30 minutes in cold water and it was slightly bitter, but I added a small amount of honey and it was lovely, also great as a part of a blend of tea.
  • Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-4 times daily for best results.

Here’s a great and relaxing way to use hops from Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Remedies for Vibrant Health:

Herbal Footbath

2 parts lavender

1 part hops

1 part sage

½ part rosemary

optional: a few drops of lavender essential oil

optional: Epsom salts (1/2 cup per soak)

  1. Place herbs in a large pot and fill with water. Cover tightly and bring to a low simmer for 5-10 minutes. Pour into a large basin for soaking your feet and adjust the temperature with cool or warm water. You still want the foot soak to be hot but of course you don’t want to burn your feet!
  2. Once you are soaking your feet, cover the tub with a towel to keep the herbs and heat inside. You can refill the basin with more hot tea or water as you wish. Play some soothing music or simply enjoy the quiet, and relax...ahhhh....

* This foot bath is also great post-workout and/or right before bed as it will help relieve pain and inflammation, and ease any cramps (the Epsom salts will replace any electrolyte and magnesium you’ve lost).