Hops are one of the most discussed ingredients in beer, especially during International #IPA day. But before they were ever used in brewing, hops were used in a variety of ways – medicinally, therapeutically and even as an entheogen. Hops were used by European monks to suppress sex drive near the end of the middle ages and eventually their use became normative.
Prior to modern medicine hops were also given to menopausal women who needed an estrogen supplement, as they naturally contain high levels of estrogen. That estrogenic quality also makes hops an anaphrodisiac for men – decreasing sex drive, erection and desire, and in excess can lead to “brewer’s droop” and “beer breasts”.
Wild hops were one of the most essential medicines for the healers of native american culture, used to cure open wounds and aid in digestion due to their antibacterial properties and ability to stimulate gastric secretions. They also have a history of use alongside valerian root as a sedative, sleep aid and mild narcotic. In traditional Chinese medicine the plant is used to treat tuberculosis and as an anticonvulsant and have also been know to treat withdrawal from diazepam and benzodiazepene addictions.
And since they are part of the hemp family, unsuccessful attempts at cross-grafting cannabis and humulus lupulus (hops) have been made in an effort to create a less identifiable source of THC. There are even more uses not listed here which makes brewing with hops just one, if not the most important, use of this wonderful plant we all love so much.
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