Naturopathic Kitchen: Hops

Fresh hops flowers.

Hops is the name of the green cone-like flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus which are primarily used in the brewing of beer. Hops is a viney plant that grows well in various climates. Many people think of hops only as an ingredient in beer, but it is also known for its health benefits. 

Hops and Health

Hops is often prescribed as a sleep aid because it contains humulene and lupuline, which are mild natural sedatives. Studies have shown that it can be an effective treatment for depression and other mood disorders. (1) Additional research has demonstrated that it can aid in weight loss and lower blood pressure, leading to overall improved cardiovascular health. 2 

Hops is also prized for its use in hormonal health. It helps relieve symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes. Some people find hops to be an effective alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). 3

Hops has a slightly bitter flavor with hints of citrus and pine, making it a great way to offset many savory dishes, or to bring depth to a sweet dish.

You can buy dried hops online, find fresh hops at some farmers’ markets, or grow your own in your garden. People who are pregnant, have endometriosis, or breast cancer should avoid the use of hops.

How to Use Hops at Home

  • Make hops tea–try it hot or iced with a little lemon!
  • Sprinkle fresh or dried hops flowers on salads, soups, or cooked vegetables as a garnish.
  • The scent of hops helps aid sleep, so fill a small drawstring fabric bag with dried hops and lavender flowers and tuck it into your pillowcase to combat insomnia.
  • Top a pizza with hops.
  • Infuse olive oil with hops and use it in salad dressings, drizzled on pasta dishes, or as a marinade.
  • Sauté hops shoots with garlic and butter for a side dish or add hops shoots to any stir fry.
  • Grind dried hops with a mortar and pestle and use it as a spice.

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