Hops is one of the most widely cultivated plants, yet one rarely comes across them in the wild, even though they are well adapted to the northern climes. It is uncertain where exactly hops came from, but it has been closely associated with the art of brewing for a very long time. At one time many different bitter herbs were concocted into beer, but during the 16th century a law was passed in Germany that decreed it unlawful to use any other herbs but hops for the brewing of beer. In those days brewing was generally the domain of monks and it is not surprising that they lobbied for the use of hops in beer, since it is a natural anaphrodisiac, a quality that greatly helped to suppress their corporeal urges. Another advantage of Hops is, that it acts as a natural preservative and brewing beer with it meant that it could be made lighter (in terms of alcohol content) without the risk of spoilage. Hops is botanically related to the stinging nettle and to hemp. Its leaves are covered in fine hairs, which are known to frequently cause contact dermatitis and may irritate the eyes if they are inadvertently brought into contact.
Hops is mostly used as a sedative and recommended for restlessness, insomnia and nervous complaints. It is particularly useful for nervous conditions of the digestive system as the bitter principles combined with the calming effect can ease nervous indigestion. The bitter principles also act on the liver. Furthermore, Hops is a diuretic and is used to reduce oedematous swellings or to help flush metabolic waste from the system in certain types of arthritis and gout. A pillow stuffed with hop flowers can be used to aid sleeplessness. Hops has estrogenic compounds, which among chronic users of beer may result in enlarged breasts.
Herb pillows stuffed with hops may be used for dream work. It may be used in incense. In Scandinavian countries the hop strobilus is regarded as a symbol of fertility. Hops cleanses and removes obstructions while helping to focus and calm the mind.