• Denine Rogers

2018 Herb of the Year

Updated: Feb 12, 2018

Every year the International Herb Association decides what is going to be the herb of the year. This year herb is the Hops (Humulus lupulus). I know that you are thinking of beer (I would too) but there is so much more to hops the herb. Hops are the green seed cones from the Humulus lupulus plant is part of the family Cannabaceae and is a native to Europe, Asia, and North America. As hops are a climbing plant, they are trained to grow up trellises made from strings or wires that support the plants and allow them significantly higher growth with the same sunlight profile. Male and female flowers of the hop plant usually develop on separate plants. Because viable seeds are undesirable for brewing beer, only female plants are grown in hop fields, thus preventing pollination. Female plants are propagated vegetatively, and male plants are culled if plants are grown from seeds. Hops and hops oil have Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the US.

The Cherokees used hops as a sedative and an analgesic, and as a treatment for rheumatic disorders, breast and uterine conditions, and kidney and urinary problems. In traditional Chinese medicine, hops are used to treat insomnia, restlessness, dyspepsia, intestinal cramps, and lack of appetite. Topically, hops are used for leg ulcers and as an antibacterial. For foods and beverages, the extracts and oil are used as flavor components. Typical preparation is teas, infusions, tinctures, or encapsulations. Hops are also popularly used in a dream and sleep pillows and many other cosmetic formulations. Hops tend to be unstable when exposed to light or air and lose their potency after a few months' storage. Hops are of interest for hormone replacement therapy and are under basic research for the potential relief of menstruation-related problems. In preliminary veterinary research, hops compounds are under study for possible activity against pasture-associated laminitis in horses.

Not many people know that hops can also be eaten, the young shoots of the bine are edible and can be cooked similar to asparagus. Dermatitis sometimes results from harvesting hops. Although few cases require medical treatment, an estimated 3% of the workers suffer some skin lesions on the face, hands, and legs. Hops are toxic to dogs.

So the next time you drink your beer remember that Hops is a beautiful plant and now it is time for it to get its overdue respect!


(1) Creative Commons Deed, February 11, 2018, Hops - Wikipedia, Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hops

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