Botanical name: Humulus lupulus
Hops - Herb info from the Happy Herb Company

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A close relative of cannabis, Hops has been used for centuries in beer brewing. Ironically Henry VIII banned the addition of Hops to ales and beers and described Hops as “a wicked weed that would endanger the people."

Of course, Hops beer is now one of the most freely available and socially acceptable drugs and certainly has 'endangered the people' with all the harm and tragedy associated with motor vehicle accidents, social and domestic violence, misadventure, alcoholism, liver damage, fatal drug combinations and so on.

Despite its unholy alliance with beer, Hops is not really ‘a wicked weed’ and is relatively harmless in moderate amounts. This close relative of Cannabis is a mellowing relaxant, great at alleviating nervous tension and indeed an all round nerve tonic. Hops Flowers placed in a dream pillow (along with Mugwort) will produce deep restful sleep, as well as relaxing the neck muscles!

As the hops bud contains lupuline, the smoking of hops gives a mellow effect. Unfortunately, burning hops is a little harsh on the throat and is best blended with Coltsfoot or similar to soften it. 

Hops has a long and proven history of use medicinally, being employed mainly for its soothing, sedative, tonic and calming effect on the body and the mind. The strongly bitter flavour largely accounts for its ability to strengthen and stimulate the digestion, increasing gastric and other secretions.

The current drug laws against cannabis are really a discriminatory joke, especially when one considers the drinking of its botanical relative, Hops beer, by most of the politicians, and police who impose/enforce these draconian laws. It seems even more hypocritical when one weighs up the adverse effects of alcohol on society with the relative harmlessness of cannabis and other so-called drugs.

The female flowering heads are harvested in the autumn and can be used fresh or dried The female fruiting body is anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, nervine and sedative.

Precautions / Contraindications: 

Hops should not be used in pregnancy or in cases of marked depression. Hops has no known toxicity but excessive use over a long period may cause symptoms of dizziness, mental stupor and mild jaundice in some individuals. Hops may also cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals.

Thorpe, R. (2001). Happy High Herbs 6th Ed. Loch: Possibility.com
Plants for a Future (1996-2010) http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Humulus+lupulus
David Hoffman (2003), Medical Herbalism, p557