Hops: The Manager’s Herb
Are you the type of person who lies awake at night unable to relax as your mind runs through all the jobs you didn’t get done that day at the office?
Do you then start on how you’re going to tackle tomorrow, putting in place all sorts of plans to meet all your objectives, your adrenal glands still firing as you sidestep one imagined problem after the next?
By the time you finally relax enough to let sleep wash over you, the next day has arrived, none of the problems you imagined have materialized, and you’re in no state to meet the real challenges the new day throws at you.
If this sounds like you, then hops as a sleep inducing herbal tea may be just what you need to meet the managerial challenges that life and career throw your way.
Though not so well-known as an herbal tea, hops are famous as that vital ingredient that flavor and preserve beer.
Indeed the addition of the female flowers (strobiles) of wild hops to the brewing process changed ale into beer and was largely responsible for the rise in beer drinking the world over. This was due to the substances humulone and lumulone found in the flowers, which not only sterilize and preserve the beer but also give it the characteristic bitter flavor.
They also have a tonic and calming effect on the physical nervous system, and together with phosphates of magnesium, calcium, and potassium are responsible for that relaxed, unwinding feeling you get from a couple of well-earned beers at the end of the day.
Too many beers and the natural principle will be tipped the opposite way, giving rise to the uptight, irritable, and aggressive drunk. Too much of a good thing and you will get the opposite effect in the same body areas!
You can expect that beer brewed the old way where fermentation was not artificially stopped and beer was matured naturally on yeast will have all the medicinal value of a herbal beverage.
These were traditionally taken with or before a meal to stimulate appetite and aid digestion. This is probably not the case for our modern mass-produced beers. Throughout history, all sorts of herbs have been used as a base for brewing beer, and especially those herbs that have a calming and sedating effect.
The Vikings brewed their öl (ale) from malt, or malt and honey and flavored it with a range of bitter and aromatic herbs. The Egyptians brewed a beverage from hops called symthum and other early cultures including the Sumerians, Greeks, and Romans all knew of and partook in the drinking of ale. It was not until sometime in the Middle Ages in Europe that the discovery of boiling hops with ale for exactly one and a half hours would dramatically increase its shelf life.
How to Take Hops
When taken as an herbal tea, hops will give all the positive effects of a home brewed beer without the intoxication and other side effects that come with alcohol. When taken at the end of the day, the combined tonic and calming effect can allow unwinding to begin. As the challenges of the day’s work are forgotten, adrenaline will stop pumping and the muscles can start to relax, giving way to a calmer energy, which can allow for the pursuit of more pleasurable activities like hobbies or other interests.
It has been described as the “manager’s” herb, and it is this sort of person who benefits the most from hop tea. Pre-planning is a requirement of every coordinator; however the wise ones know that “even the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.”
Luke Hughes is a classical Western herbalist and horticulturist based in Sydney, Australia.