Hops has long been regarded as a herbal remedy for stress, insomnia, and digestive upset. The herb is best known as a nervous system relaxant but also has pain relieving, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, and diuretic properties. Along with the resins and essential oils in hops, phytoestrogens are also present. These are plant-derived compounds that may influence the human endocrine system when consumed. Phytoestrogens have simultaneously been associated with positive health benefits and negative health effects. However, as the role of these compounds continues to be studied, research suggests it is safe and even beneficial to consume hops in moderate doses.
Hops was valued as a relaxing herb before it was introduced as an ingredient in beer during the Middle Ages. Brewers found that adding hops provided a unique bitter flavour and significantly increased the shelf life of beer. Hops was essential for preserving beer for long nautical journeys from Europe to be exported all over the world. Presently, this style of heavily hopped, bitter beer is more popular than ever and when consumed, the relaxing effect of hops is undeniable.