Cannabaceae or Cannabinaceae are represented by only two genera: Cannabis, hemp, and Humulus, hops.
Hops, Humulus lupulus is a climbing and perennial herb native to temperate Eurasia that climbs on any natural or artificial support in the manner of a tropical liana to a height of 5 to 6 meters.
It is a perennial by its deep root which prefers the rich and humid grounds in shaded area (ditches, hedges, edge of river).
It has been cultivated in Europe since the 9th century. All the beer producing regions of the world now have industrial hop crops of which there are many varieties.
Hops nevertheless remain a wild and spontaneous plant in temperate Europe that is frequently found in wetlands.
The stem of this "liana" is quadrangular, downy but rather rough, it winds in the direction of clockwise, the opposite leaves are webbed with 3 to 5 "fingers".
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
There is little essential oil, 0.2 to 0.5%, which contains several hundred distinct compounds of terpene nature, the main ones being myrcene (monoterpene) and sesquiterpenes: humulene and beta caryophyllene.
They correspond to 50 to 80% of the essential oil according to the varieties (cultivars).
The essential oil of hops is antibacterial and slightly sedative. It calms neurotonia and promotes the onset of sleep
RESIN containing the acids giving the bitterness of hops
Mature hops contain 5 to 20% of its weight.
The chemists separate them into two groups, alpha acids and beta acids, they are derivatives of phloroglucinol.
The most important ones in the beer industry are alpha acids, the major ones being humulone (35 to 70%), cohumulone (20 to 65%) and adhumulone (10 to 15%).
Alpha acids are sought after in breweries because they contribute to the stability of the beer's foam and also serve as preservatives.
Curiously it is rather isomers of these acids that appear during the elaboration of beer that are really very bitter.
The bitter compounds of hops are appetizers and stomachic, they increase the appetite and promote digestion.
They may be involved in the sedative power of hops.
These are substances of plant origin that produce effects on the body similar to those of sex hormones of the estrogen type (feminizing hormone, the main one is 17 beta estradiol).
Since the Middle Ages, the feminizing and anaphrodisiac power (calming sexual arousal in humans) of hops is well known.
Heavy drinkers of traditionally brewed beer often develop female-type obesity with gynecomastia (breast development) and sometimes complain of decreased sexual desire (decreased libido up to impotence).
Women who worked on hop flower harvesting or conditioning without respiratory protection often had menstrual problems.
Pharmacology researchers believe that the estrogenic (feminizing) power of hops is due to the presence of a particular flavonoid: hopin or 8PN (for (±) -8-prenylnaringenin).
This 8PN is derived from desmethylxanthohumol present in hop extracts. The latter is considered as the precursor of 8 PN and therefore as an important chemical marker of the estrogenic potential of hop extracts in the pharmaceutical or cosmetics industry.
2-4% tannins, 13-24% proteins, 3-4% fructose and glucose, 12-14% pectin.
Hops and hop extracts are mainly used in phytotherapy:
• to cure insomnia and nervousness,
• to reduce menopausal disorders
• in case of lack of appetite or minor disorders of digestion.
• in some cosmetics
Sedative power of hops
It is recognized in traditional medicine but more difficult to quantify by therapeutic trials against placebo.
We know that any placebo gives about 60% of positive responses when looking for a sedative action or to facilitate or improve sleep.
In practice the association with valerian (another sedative plant) seems interesting.
Since hops do not contain alkaloids or toxic substances, they can be prescribed for children above 6 years of age.
The cessation of ovulation can be accompanied by various physical disorders, the most common are hot flushes and an alteration of the character with irritability and nervousness.
Hormone replacement therapy is known for its temporary effectiveness but is accompanied by an increased risk of genital cancers (especially breasts).
The use of hop extracts does not present the same dangers, phytoestrogens are much less powerful than hormone replacement.
The sedative action of hops adds to the estrogenic power and in many cases improves the comfort of life for women at the beginning of menopause.
Hops can be combined with other sedative plants: valerian, linden, eschscholtzia .
Hops give appetite (appetizer), just like beer; traditionally it is recommended in cases of sluggish digestion and minor digestive spasms (belching, postprandial digestive cramps).
Hops extracts are incorporated into many cosmetic preparations to "tune and repair" damaged skin, and with the idea that phytoestrogens present improve the skin and teguments when there is a postmenopausal hormone deficiency.
The doses are an indication but can be doubled.
Infusion: 10 g of dry hop cones in 1/2 liter of very hot water, 6 minutes of infusion, to drink in 2 or 3 times during the day or midday and evening before going to bed.
Ethanolic tincture: very versatile and can be combined with Tilia , Valeriana or Eschscholtzia , 15 to 50 drops two to three times a day.
Hop powder: 2 to 6 grams per day spread throughout the day or rather in the afternoon and evening.
Dry extract: 250 to 500 mg at the end of the day.
There are many preparations on the market containing hop extracts sometimes mixed with other sedative plants.
More anecdotal: you can try the pillow filled with dry hop cones in case of insomnia, but you have to get used to the strong smell of cones and their cracking at the slightest movement.
Fresh spring sprouts of hops can be eaten lightly cooked like wild asparagus.
THE SEDATIVE AND APERITIF HOP
Hops cones (female plant) contain essential oil and bitter essences
calming nervousness, promoting sleep and giving appetite.
Hops contain a phytoestrogen that can be used to treat menopausal disorders.
Copyright 2019 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel