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What is Humulus Lupulus?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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Humulus lupulus, also called hops, is a well-known ingredient in the beer brewing industry. The plant, a vine, is native to Europe and Western Asia, but it is grown nearly everywhere with modern cultivation practices. It can grow to be 29. 5 feet (9 meters) tall and has yellow or white flowers. Besides its use in brewing beer, it is also used in a wide range of foods, beverages, and holistic medicines. There are few side effects to using humulus lupulus, making it one of the most widely accepted herbal remedies.

Using hops to produce a better tasting beer is actually a rather modern discovery; however, humulus lupulus was used for centuries as a natural preservative, keeping bacteria from growing in beer. Although most people have never attempted to eat hops right off the vine, the Belgians used the tops of the plant as a vegetable, eating it in the same way that most people eat asparagus. Typically, they douse it with cream or butter to make it extra tasty. The essential oils are used in many perfumes, mineral waters, and even smoking tobacco. Many bakers have figured out how to use the extract in their baked goods and candies as well.

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The stems of humulus lupulus are quite fibrous. Many people interested in environmental practices have suggested the stems would make excellent biomass. Stems already are used to make filler material in corrugated paper. The leaves and flowers have also been used to make a brown-colored dye. The rich oils from humulus lupulus are extracted and used in many lotions and skin creams as well.

Humulus lupulus is used to treat a wide variety of medical ailments, too, ranging from leprosy and tuberculosis to tension and insomnia. The American Indians would heat the leaves in a bag and set it against an aching tooth or ear. They would also drink a cup of tea brewed from the herb as a sedative. The plant has also been hailed as a treatment for tumors, ulcers, boils, cramps, and bruises. It also is used to treat coughs, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, rheumatism, hysteria, and worms. It is said to work as an aphrodisiac, an antiseptic, a hypnotic, a diuretic, and as prevention to breast and ovarian cancers.

The main side effect comes not from consuming humulus lupulus, but from handling the plant. People with allergies may develop a rash, cough, or difficulties breathing. In addition, people with depression, people who take central nervous system depressors, and people using hormone therapy generally should not consume it. If someone overdoses on hops, it can cause seizures, restlessness, and an upset stomach. It can lower blood sugar levels, so diabetics should consult their doctors before consuming hops, as well.

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