English Name—COMMON HOP.
French Name—Houblon commun.
Officinal Names—Lupuli coni, humuli strobili.
Vulgar Names—Hops, Wild-hops, Hopvine.
Authorities—Lin. Pursh, Nuttal, A. Ives, Schoepf, Treaks, Bryorly, Bigsby, many Dispens. Alibert, Coxe, Eberîe, Maton, Roches, Zollickofier, Bigelow, fig. 60 and Seq.
Genus HUMULUS—Dioical, Staminate flowers with a five leaved perigone, Stamina five, anthers bipore. Pistilate flowers strobilate: bracts binore, perigone one leaved, persistent entire, concave, involute. One pistil, two styles, one seed.
Species H. LUPULUS—Stem twining and rough, leaves opposite, petiolate, cordate, three or five lobed, acute, sharply serrate, rough: staminate flowers panicled, fertile strobiles axillary peduncled.
Description—Root perennial. Stem annual, forming a climbing vine, twining from right to left, angular, rough with minute reflexed prickles. Leaves opposite, petiols crooked, smaller and floral leaves cordate, acuminate, serrate: the main leaves nearly palmate, trilobe, sometimes five lobe; lobes large, oval acute, sharply serrate; sinusses obtuse, without teeth; surface very rough with three main nerves and many veins.
Flowers numerous and greenish. The staminate on different individuals, forming axillary panicles, with two or four bracts, reflexed, opposite, petiolate, oval: each flower peduncled. Perigone caliciform, with five oblong obtuse concave and spreading sepals: five stamina, filaments short, anthers oblong, opening by two terminal pores. Pistilate flowers forming oval, opposite, axillary, drooping and peduncled strobiles or cones. Scales imbricate, oval, acute, tubular at the base, each covering two sessile flowers. Perigone (Corolla of Linnaeus) shorter than the scales, lateral, oval obtuse, infolding the pistil by the edges. Germen rounded, compressed, two short styles, two long subulate and downy stigmas. Each flower produces a single round seed.
Locality—Native of Europe and America, and cultivated also in both continents. Schoepf found it wild in Virginia, Nuttal on the Missouri, and I have seen it spontaneous from New York to Kentucky in groves, thickets, coppices and banks of streams.
History—This vine is ornamental and useful. It is extensively cultivated wherever malt liquors are used, and forms a profitable branch of agriculture. The fertile plants alone are raised, since the medical and economical parts are the strobiles of the seeds. The young shoots, when emerging from the ground, are however eaten like Asparagus in Italy and Germany. The fibres of the vine are also made into coarse cloth in Sweden and England. The blossoms appear in the summer, and although uncolored are not devoid of elegance.
Humulus belongs to the Natural Order SCABRIDES or URTICIDES, and to Dioecia pentandria. It has but this species, both names are ancient.
Qualities—The whole plant, but particularly the strobiles have a fragrant sub-narcotic smell, and a bitter, astringent, aromatic taste. A. Ives has shown that this taste and smell reside in a fine impalpable yellow powder, sprinkled over the fertile plants, and chiefly on the strobiles, which may be separated by threshing and sifting. This powder has been called Lupulin, although it is not a proximate principle, but a dry secretion from the plant, and a compound substance containing the active principles and properties. The Lupulin contains out of 120 parts, 46 of lignin, 36 resin, 12 wax, 11 amarina, 10 extractive, 5 tannin, besides two per cent. of a singular essential oil, very volatile, partly soluble in water, very acrid, and having the narcotic smell of the Hop. The Lupulin is very inflammable, it becomes soft and adhesive by handling: the strobiles contains one-sixth of their weight of it, and it may be available in brewing like the hops: one pound being equal to six pounds of hops.
Properties—The whole plant, but chiefly the Strobiles and the Lupulin are tonic, narcotic, phantastic, anodyne, sedative, alterative, astringent, antilithic, diuretic, corroborant, &c. The strobiles or hops have long been an ingredient of porter, ale and other malt liquors, to which they impart a bitter and aromatic flavor, besides a small share of their properties; but by the habitual use of these liquors all the good effects are destroyed. The hop-beer made with molasses, hops and yeast, is a better liquor still, and an agreeable, refreshing, tonic beverage.
As a medicinal article hops have been praised by many physicians, and employed in Nephritis, Gravel, Gout, Phrenitis, Alopecia, Luxations, articular Rheumatism, Dyspepsia, Scrophula, Rachitis, Erysepelas, Debility, Strangury, Hysteric and Nervous complaints, Cancer, &c. As tonic, stomachic and corroborant, they are available in diseases depending on debility or a loss of tone in the stomach; but their powers are weak in this as well as all the other properties aseribed to them, which, however, may render them useful when mild remedies are required. As a narcotic and sedative they operate mildly, and are often preferable to opium: they induce sleep without producing the bad effects of opium. Even the external application of hops, produces the same effect, and a pillow of hops is a popular mode of promoting sleep. Poultices and fomentations of hops are common applications for painful swellings. Their antilithic and diuretic property is questionable, they can at utmost act as palliative, and are sometimes injurious; but available in the strangury produced by Cantharides. Besides allaying pain and producing sleep, hops have been found to reduce pulsations from 96 to 60, while rendering the pulse more firm. They are useful in the weakness and watchfulness of hysteric patients. An ointment of hops is a palliatve in the last stage of Cancer. They are said to act as antiseptic and corroborant in bowel complaints. Some physicians consider them as general alterative of the system. Schoepf mentions the seeds as used in Obstipation. Zollickofferhas used the flowers to relieve the pains after parturition.
Many preparations are made with them; the tincture and extract of hops were formerly most used. Now the pills, syrup, infusion, tincture, extract and ointment of Lupulin are employed. Boiling water and alcohol dissolve the Lupulin. The doses must be small and gradually increased, beginning with one grain of Lupulin, four of the extract, a tea spoonful of the tincture, or two ounces of the infusion. An over dose produces sore throat, nausea, purging, tremor, head ache, &c.
Substitutes—The mild aromatic tonics and narcotics; but none are similar, nor combine the same number of properties, the Lycopus virginicus alone comes nearest to it.
Remarks—The malt liquors brewed in the United States, instead of being a wholesome beverage, are often rendered deleterious by the substitution or addition of bitter and narcotic ingredients: the harmless substitutes to Hops are, Liquorice, Wormwood, Quassia, Teucrium Virginicum, &c. but Datura Stramonium, Cocculus, Aloe, &c. that have been added in Pittsburg and elsewhere, are dangerous, pernicious or useless ingredients.
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, 1828, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.