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Hops are part of the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants, meaning Hops is the well-behaved cousin of Cannabis. Well almost. Hops have been historically cultivated specifically for use in the brewing process of beer and ale — providing bleary-eyed relaxation and a good night’s sleep to consumers of alcohol since the 9th century.

Of course, Hops are not just for fun, this little cone-shaped flower has some unexpected but scientifically verified medicinal power.

Pineal Gland

Melatonin, the hormone produced by the pineal gland, and which is responsible for regulating our circadian rhythms, or what is more commonly referred to as our sleep/wake cycle. MT1 and MT2 are melatonin receptors and Hops when ingested, binds to both of these melatonin receptors which are produced by the pineal gland. MT1 is responsible for reprogramming our circadian rhythm MT1, whereas MT2 slows cell metabolism and promotes sleepiness and sleep. The pinecone shape of Hops may indeed point to its pineal gland benefits — nature always gives us signs.

About Hops

Hops are the dried flower of the hop plant. For centuries hops have been used in the brewing process of beer, for bittering beer, foaming, flavor, and effect. Today there are over 80 different varieties of Hops that have been cultivated and exposed to cross-breeding and modification for certain uses related to the alcohol business. Hops is also used as a natural flavoring in foods. A long history of medicinal use, Hops is believed to be native to Ancient Egypt. In the First century AD. hops are described as a salad plant.

Recorded histories first mention of cultivating Hops specifically for beer brewing purposes was first recorded in Picardy, Northern France, in 822 AD.

Germany is a close second, cultivating hops for the brewing process a mere 300 years later than France, approximately somewhere between 1150 and 1160 AD. In her “Physica Sacra”, the Abbess Hildegard of Bingen documented the world’s first mention of Hops being used as a preservative.

Health Benefits

Hops have been mainly used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders and disturbance, ranging from restlessness to insomnia. However, Hops also has some very powerful medicinal properties that are capable of proving anti-tumor activity.

The Land of Nod
Historically used to promote a content night of sleep, the effectiveness of Hops as a sleep aide has been scientifically validated by a large number of controlled studies. Affective at calming down anxiety, mainly due to the chemical dimethylvinyl carbinol, hops can help us put our mind at rest. It has also shown to be effective in alleviating frustrating and health damaging sleep disorders such as insomnia. Due to Hops ability to bind t melatonin receptors, it can help us to stimulate re-regulation of an out of whack sleep/wake cycle, due to shift/night work.

Xanthohumol is a flavonoid compound contained in Hops. Xanthohumol has shown promise as providing an anti-tumor, activity, anti-blood-clotting, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. Hops also have anti-anxiety properties. Research conducted at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon have demonstrated Xanthohumol to show inhibitory activity helping to prevent colon, breast and ovarian cancer cells from proliferating. Hops are also anti-bacterial and anti-spasmodic.

Brain on Hops
New research from China reports that Xanthohumol found in Hops may be able to protect our brain from Oxidative damage which has been proven to be a key causative factor in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Hops are effective at fighting free radicals, protecting the brain from oxidative stress, meaning less stress on our pineal gland and a better chance at halting the development of brain disorders.

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