Hops: properties, benefits, contraindications – GreenStyle

Hops: properties and contraindications

The hop it is a natural solution with multiple benefits. This plant belongs to the Cannabaceae family and is often associated with the production of beer, although its use can go far beyond this application. There are several areas of the body and mind that can benefit from its herbal use.

The scientific name of the hops is Humulus lupulus, it is a perennial (climbing) deciduous plant, which can reach a height of 7 meters and blooms in summer.

Hops, characteristics of the plant

The leaves have a serrated edge, while i flowers they are unisexual and differ according to their belonging: in the female plants they take the form of membranous cones (used in the preparation of natural remedies) while in the male ones of pendulous panicles (whose pollen is carried by the wind).

Where is the hop plant

In nature the hop plant it is found in fresh environments and with abundant water resources. It grows spontaneously near the banks of rivers, but also at the edges of the woods and near the hedges.

It prefers not too humid areas, from the plains up to a maximum of about 1200 meters above sea level, and is able to withstand even very low temperatures (up to -30 degrees). In Italy it grows spontaneously mostly in the northern regions.

Source: Image by RitaE from Pixabay

Hop cultivation

The hop plant has been used since ancient times, while yours cultivation it is traced back to 9th century Germany. In Italy this agricultural practice came much later, around the mid-1800s.

Requires a land rich in organic substance and not too compact, so as to allow the roots to expand without great difficulty. The use of manure or other fertilizer (also compost) during the soil preparation phase.

It is good to remember that starting from the second year the stems of these plants will require the realization of supports, usually metal wires stretched along the cultivation line.

Keep in mind that hops can be threatened by various plant parasites, and therefore will require the use of specific natural solutions. Among the sworn enemies of this specimen are the aphids, red spider mites, downy mildew and rust of wheat.

Hop harvest
Source: Image by RitaE from Pixabay

How hops are harvested

The collection of hop cones begins towards the end of August and continues throughout the month of September. In some cases this process lasts until the first days of October.

Before moving on to how hops are harvested it is good to remember briefly how to recognize ripe cones and ready. The small “pine cones” produced by the plant must be very light green in color, with slightly brown tips. Particularly noteworthy is the surface, which to the touch must remind you of the roughness of the paper.

I ripe fruit they can be collected directly by hand. At this point it is necessary to decide the destination of these products: for the production of beer and for use as natural remedies it will be necessary to proceed with the drying in advance.

Side note: those who want to consume the sprouts of hops in your diet will have to bring the harvest to spring rather than summer.

Hops, properties

One of property most recognized to hops is thesedative action. Useful both to counteract insomnia and to mitigate possible states ofanxiety, stress or nervous agitation. To ensure these effects benefits they are the by-products of the oxidation of the bitter alpha-acid humulone and the beta-bitter acid lupulone.

Hop which is also useful to facilitate the digestive processes, thanks to its stimulating action against gastric secretions and appetite. It is also considered effective in the treatment of gastritis of nervous origin, precisely by virtue of the aforementioned sedative action.

Some studies have pointed to hops as a possible solution antitumor, thanks to the action offered by flavonoids e phytoestrogens. The target of the beneficial action of hops seems to be the growth of cancer cells, the proliferation of malignant forms of colon, breast and ovarian cancers, as well as the development of acute monoblastic leukemia.


The main side effects associated with the intake of hops affect the excess in its use and the possible hypersensitivity to one or more of its components. Among the manifestations found dizziness and changes from a cognitive point of view.

The contraindications on the other hand, they affect specific categories of people such as pregnant women, as well as those with “estrogen dependent” breast tumors.

The pharmacological implications must also be carefully evaluated, together with the attending physician. The use of hops is not recommended for those who take psychotropic drugs, anti-depressants or the following hormone therapies.

Finally, also pay attention to the possible interaction of hops with barbiturate drugs, of which it could extend the duration of effect in an unspecified manner.

How hops are used

The use of hops is quite varied: from the production of beer to the treatment of some ailments and ailments, passing through use in the kitchen. Its use will require different procedures and attention, as we will see below.

Properties hops, beer
Source: Photo by Missy Fant on Unsplash


What does hops do in beer? Why is it used? The brewing process involves its use both for its typical aroma and for its ability to donate taste amaro to the drink. This last characteristic is fundamental, balancing the otherwise sweet flavor brought by the malt (obtained through the fermentation of barley).

Dried cones are used, to be added during the boiling of the product. However, it should be remembered that the longer the hops stay, the higher the degree of bitterness, sacrificing the aroma.

One way to balance this effect is to insert cones in the final stage of boiling, also called aroma hops.

Natural remedies

Also to make gods natural remedies the dried cone is used based on hops. From this they are obtained decoctions e herbal teas, with a marked bitter taste.

Hops in the kitchen

As anticipated, in kitchen i apical shoots of hops. For shape and taste they can remind asparagus, with a taste that is bitter and aromatic.

As with asparagus, the most popular uses for this plant are the preparation of risotto (recommended the variety of rice called vialone nano) and di omelettes. In both cases it is often used in combination with Parmigiano Reggiano DOP.

Source: GreenStyle by www.greenstyle.it.

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