Hops are for more than just a happy hour pint. What once was thought to just be an important ingredient in brewing, is now creating quite a stir among health enthusiasts.
The essential oils from hops are now dominating the health food shelves and even spa treatment centers. But what are the properties of hops that make them so appealing to so many demographics?
Properties of Hops
Some beer enthusiasts would say that hops are the most important part of beer. Those that believe this will also attest to the importance of the oils in the hops. Hops get most of their flavor and aroma, especially the non-bitter parts of the taste, from the essential oils they contain. This is one of the reasons that some brewers add the hops very late in the boil portion of the brewing process; it keeps more of the aroma alive. Some brewers even dry hop their beers. This eliminates all chances of oils to evaporate, because there is no boiling segment.
The Three Main Essential Oils
Most hops consist of three main essential oils, which make up between 60-80% of the oil in hops. These figures are only approximations, as the percentage can vary wildly depending on the season. The three most common oils are:
Now let’s get to know the oils by learning about what they do.
Myrcene is a hydrocarbon and an essential component of many plants. It is an organic compound and can be found in other plants such as, thyme, parsley, lemon grass, and cannabis. It is also used as a component of perfume (intermediary) because it disperses quite easily in air.
Humulene is an isomer of Caryophyllen. Out in the natural world and in hops, Caryophyllene and Humulene can usually be spotted together. If you find yourself smiling for the sweet, hoppy smell of your favorite beer, you have Humulene. In addition to this lovely aroma, Humulene also shares some anti-inflammatory powers.
This essential oil is not unique to hops. It is found in a number of other sweet-smelling plants. You can find a bit of Caryophyllene in cannabis, rosemary, cloves, and more. There is some suspicion that Caryophyllene also possesses some anti-inflammation properties. Even more so, Caryophyllene may provide some hope for cancer patients. There have been some studies involving Caryophylene in regards to cancer medicine and treatments.
Perhaps less impressive than its potential for cancer research, Caryophyllene is also popular in food as an additive for earthy flavors.
Caryophyllene, Myrcene, and Humulene aren’t the only essential oils found in hops–not even close. In fact they are just the major ones in hops and there are closer to 250 in total (Craft Beer Academy).
Did you catch all of that? It is because of these properties that people are jumping on hops. It’s quite a read to really understand the properties of hops and the list of benefits is not very short either.
Benefits of Hops Essential Oils
Macho beer drinkers are happy to share some of the supposed benefits of downing a certain amount of pints a week. But they may be less likely to brag about enjoying a candlelit, relaxing aromatherapy session with hops diffusion. They shouldn’t, however, be ashamed in the least, for hops essential oils are supposedly packed with benefits and have enlisted quite a following of fans. Hops essential oils are said to:
Quite a broad statement, but as hops essential oils are considered to have some analgesic properties, they do just that: relieve pain. Those suffering from all sorts of chronic pain are especially taken by hops essential oils treatments.
Enhance Sexual Performance
Hops essential oil has been used for many years to extend the duration of intimate times. It’s ability to do so is probably due to the soothing and desensitizing properties of hops essential oils.
Hops essential oils have some sedative properties. These are, quite obviously, helpful for those of us struggling to catch some shut eye. Diffusing hops essential oils during sleep may not only help you fall into sleep, it may even improve the quality of sleep you do get, leaving you even more refreshed and ready for the next day.
Soothe Respiratory Problems
The essential oils in hops are also being used to treat some of the discomfort that comes along with respiratory issues. Those suffering from such conditions are often also experiencing some sort of inflammation or irritation of the system. Hops essential oils reduce inflammation and address the irritated parts of your respiratory tract, which may help relieve some congested sinuses and keep coughing to a minimum.
Reduce the Severity of Menstrual Cramps
Hops, as you remember, has some sedative properties. These sedative abilities makes hops essential oils and ideal candidate for making menstrual cramps a little less miserable. The sedation reduces the tightness of the cramping muscle and lessens the pain at the same time.
Massaging your temples at this very moment? Then hops essential oils are the tension headache natural remedy for you. Hops essential oils provide a natural relaxation effect that is rumored to relax the muscles in the neck and shoulders that contribute to tension headaches. The essential oils may also help to make you feel less anxious, helping you to avoid more tension headaches in the future.
Beautify Skin and Hair
While beauty may be a strong word, hops essential oils have been, in addition to these incredible health claims, known to do something for our cosmetic side, too. Hops essential oils have been used for skin conditions such as psoriasis and other irritation conditions. The hops oils have anti-inflammatory, antiviral as well as calming properties that all come together for the ultimate skin care team.
Hops essential oils help your hair best when mixed with other oils. They contribute to strong and shiny hair. We can refer back to what we know about the components and volatility of the oils to explain their effectiveness with the hair (Organic Facts).
As with most health food updates, trends, or crazes it is best to be cautious and note the precautions. Hops essential oils are no different. When using hops essential oils keep a few things in mind:
The old saying about “…too much of a good thing,” goes well with aromatherapy involving hops. Practice some good old-fashioned moderation when administering hops essential oil treatments.
Here is yet another saying that goes well with hops aromatherapy: “A little can go a long way.” Keep in mind that some doses of hops essential oils can actually hurt you. If you use too much you may develop rashes or skin injuries. But when used properly, in the right dose, you can do quite the opposite and cure some conditions. Be sure to consult an expert when determining this quantity.
Know your Mood
What is good for one person may not be good for another. In fact, it may be downright harmful for some people. If you are someone that suffers from depression, you may want to reconsider any therapies involving hops essential oils. Hops are known for their calming, sedative qualities. They are sought out by some people for this very reason. But if you are depressed, these properties may make you feel depressed. If you have a tendency in this direction or a family history, be especially cautious (Aromatherapy at Home).
Doctor May I?
As with all new health schemes, fitness plans, or herbal solutions it is best to consult a professional. Whether you prefer a physician, an herbalist, or a natural care practitioner–get a professional opinion before making changes to your health, nutrition, or fitness.
- Aromatherapy at Home, Hops Essential Oils, online.
- Craft Beer Academy, The Science Behind Hops – Part 2 – Essential Oils, 2013, online.
- Organic Facts, Health Benefits of Hops Essential Oil, online.
- Image Source: flickr.com