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Health Benefits of Hops (Humulus lupulus)

Your familiarity with hops may start and end with your knowledge that they are found in beer. However, hops actually provide a wide variety of health benefits, aside from helping you celebrate the beginning of the weekend. Read on below to learn more about hops and what they can do for you.

1. Anti-Inflammatory

In September of 2009, Molecular Nutrition and Food Research published a study that reported the anti-inflammatory properties of hops. This mean hops may help treat arthritis, gout, digestive issues, muscle pain, and other issues related to inflammation.

2. Cancer Fighting Properties

It is believed that hops can help inhibit the growth of cancer cells. A study published in Phytotherapy Research of November 2008 showed this correlation between consumption of hops and inhibition of hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines.

3. Relaxation and Sleep Aid

In their leaves, hops contain chemicals that create a sedative effect, which also helps to lessen anxiety and induce sleepiness. A 2006 study published in Phytomedicine showed that the effects of hops result in a reduction of locomotor activity as well as body temperature, which encourages sleep and relaxation.

4. Acne Treatment

The fact that hops contain antioxidant properties also makes them effective in treating acne.

5. Menopause Aid

Hops contain estrogen, which can help address hormonal changes related to menopause. A study published in Journal Maturitas in May of 2006 showed that the daily consumption of a hop extract related to an ease in menopausal discomfort and symptoms.

6. Fight Infections

Hops have been used for centuries to treat many infections, and recent studies have supported this correlation. One study (Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, September 2005) showed that hops has properties that make it effective in fighting microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

7. Heart Health

The flavonoid xanthohumol may also be responsible for protecting the health of your heart. In May 2012 the Journal of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine published a study showing that xanthohumol prevented platelet activation, which leads to a decreased risk of clots and heart disease in general.

8. Weight Loss Aid

A flavonoid in hops, called xanthohumol, was found to help lower body weight in a rat study published in the Journal of Phytochemistry, May of 2012. The study showed a significant decrease in body weight in the rats that were given a high dose of xanthohumol.

9. Liver Health

Hops are also believed to support the healthy function of the liver. In fact, a study found in the Journal of Experimental and Molecular Pathology showed that hops can help prevent and treat hepatic fibrosis in chronic liver disease.

How to Use Hops

Clearly, hops are good for more than just making your beer delicious (although they’re pretty good for that, too). To utilize hops for some of these health benefits, you can usually find it in extract or tincture form in your local grocery or health food store.

Wet hops (fresh hop flowers) are generally used for their unique aromas, and for bringing flavor and bitterness to beers. The flower must either be processed or used shortly after harvest, allowing little time for the beer to be produced. For best results, most brewers use the hops within 48 hours after harvest.

Dry hopping is the process of adding hops after the beer has fermented. They are typically added in the secondary keg or fermenter and left for several weeks. This process is used to add a stronger aroma to the beer, without added bitterness.

To make hop tea, bring some water to a boil, add hops and taste it every few minutes for bitterness. When it reaches the desired taste (flavor and bitterness), remove from heat and let it cool. To combat the bitterness, especially if the hop has a high alpha acid content, you may sweeten the tea with honey, stevia, or another sweetener.

Caution

Researchers speculate that dietary supplements containing hops may increase the risk of postmenopausal bleeding. Hops are also very poisonous to dogs—so NEVER leave your spent or unused hops anywhere that the dog might get them.

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