Many folks are familiar with hops for brewing beer, but there is so much more to this plant than that! The hops plant is a favorite in our herbal sleep aid tea blend. Hops along with valerian (and a few other herbs) is a powerful sleep aid and tends to knock us right out! This is another relaxing nervine, and is helpful for sleep, anxiety, tension and any other nervous system issues.
Hops is also a bitter herb, meaning more than just taste in herbal terms. Bitters are known for their easing of the digestive system, so hops are great for digestive upset, bloating, gas, stomach aches and the like. It is best used in tincture form in this sense.
Hops are also edible! In Europe, they were grown as a garden plant and the young and tender shoots were picked in the Spring and eaten like we eat asparagus! Hops enjoy well drained and rich soil, but they also do fine in the dense clay soils we’ve grown them in. They also like light, so much that they climb for it! Oh yes, hops are climbing vines!
They can grow up to 20 feet tall, but will climb as high as any trellis you have and can stay manageable there. They are great for a summer screen, a vine layer in a food forest, or to shade some West-facing windows in the summertime!