Hops are a vigorous, climbing perennial plant that is native to Europe, Asia and North America.
The hops that are used to brew beer are actually the female flowers (also called seed cones or strobiles) of the hop plant.
Hops have many medicinal qualities. They are used in beer brewing for both their flavour and anti-bacterial qualities, which helps to deter the growth of unwanted yeasts and bacteria in the brew.
Hops contain a natural sedative which is used to help remedy insomnia and anxiety. It is also used as a digestive and appetite stimulant, nerve tonic, fever reducer and analgesic to help relieve pain.
To make hops tea, simply steep a couple of teaspoons of the flowers, either fresh or dried, in boiling water until infused. Or, to make a larger batch, simmer a tablespoon of the flowers in a pint of water for 10 minutes.
You can use the tea to make a warm hop compress to soothe skin inflammation, rashes, wounds and ulcers. Soak a clean cloth in the hot tea and apply to the affected area. You can also use the tea to bathe wounds, but be careful not to burn yourself!
Hops are also used to make a soothing herbal sleep pillow. Sew the dried flowers into a home-made pillow, or simply tuck a sachet containing dried flowers into your pillowcase.
One herbalist recommends replacing the hops in your sleep pillow every few months. For a sweeter and more aromatic sleep sachet mix the hops flowers with dried lavender buds and chamomile flowers.
Want your very own hop vine? Nick and Kathryn Southan sell potted hop plants and Nick will be bringing a number of the plants to the Hop Conversation on Wednesday, June 25th at 7 pm in Perth-Andover at the Community Room over the swimming pool building. Or, you can contact the Southans on Facebook
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