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Close cousins - Hops and hemp

Hops and hemp - close cousins

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Consumers of heavily hopped beer have certainly more than once been under the impression that the aroma of the beverage bears some resemblance to that of hemp. It turns out that the similarity of these aroma ranges is not accidental. There is a close affinity between the two plants. As it turns out, hemp and hops belong to the same family of plants referred to as hemp-like plants and have quite a lot in common. Even the consumption of active substances from hops can be similar to that of hemp. Get to know hemp’s close cousin – common hops.

What are the similarities between hemp and hop plants?

Hempaceae (Cannabaceae) is a family of plants in the order Nettle, which in Poland includes 4 species: common hops (Humulus lupulus), Japanese hops (Humulus japonicus) hemp seed (Cannabis sativa), cannabis (Cannabis indica). Thus, hops and hemp are two types of plants included in the cannabinoids, which are one of the closely related groups of plants, descended from a common ancestor and included in the Rosaceae (Rosales). It is the aroma that stems from the affinity – it turns out that both groups of plants are rich in compounds called terpenes, which are responsible for the characteristic intense odor. Another similarity is dioeciousness, meaning that the plants have characteristics of both sexes and beautiful, phytochemical-rich female inflorescences.

What properties does hops have?

The main raw material used for food or medicinal purposes, as far as hops are concerned, is – as in cannabis – the inflorescence. The characteristic hop cones are nothing more than female fruiting bodies. Their chemical analysis made it possible to isolate from it lupulin – a type of aromatic resin with a bitter taste. It is lupulin that is mainly responsible for the medicinal use of hops. This compound is a mixture of simpler resins called alpha-acids and beta-acids, which include humulene, humulone and cohumulone. In addition, the previously mentioned terpenes, and polyphenols are also present in the cones. According to scientists, the ability of polyphenols present in hops to absorb oxygen free radicals is among the highest among known edible plants. Thanks to its lupulin and aromatic compounds, hops have a calming effect on the human body, and are famous for their nerve-soothing effect.

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What are the effects of hops?

The substances contained in hops have a beneficial effect on the nervous system, they also promote proper sleep and make it easier to fall asleep. The effect is interesting in that it also affects the clarity of sleep experiences, facilitating the experience of so-called conscious sleep. Interestingly, hops extract also shows a significant effect on alleviating female hormonal disorders especially during menopause. It is believed that the compounds in the plant’s cones mimic the properties of estrogen.

Can hops be vaporized just like cannabis?

First of all – hops should not be smoked, because when burned at high temperatures, certain compounds can become toxic to us. The recommended form of inhalation is vaporization, i.e. inhalation of steam with plant compounds “dissolved” in it, generated with a special device called a vaporizer. The steam containing compounds from hops will have a soothing and relaxing effect on the nervous system. The preferred temperature range for vaporizing hops is between 150-200℃. Those without such a device can also benefit from its invaluable properties by preparing an herbal tea from hops cones. Simply pour 1 tablespoon of the herb over 2 cups of hot water and steep covered for 10 minutes. Whichever method of consumption you choose, infusion or vaporization, pay close attention to the quality of the raw material. It is advisable to choose only plants that come from organic cultivation or, preferably, look for them in wildflower meadows or wetlands.

Fans of vaporization praise the combination of cannabis with hops, for example, in a 1:1 ratio – not only for the taste sensation, but especially for their synergistic effect.

Terpenes in hops and hemp

As stated earlier, both hops and hemp plants contain terpenes. This is a class of organic compounds produced by several types of flowers and trees, especially conifers. They are responsible for producing flavors and aromas in plants. As recent studies show, as many as 30 different compounds of this kind have been discovered in the cannabis genome. We know that at least a few of them overlap in the case of hops. They certainly include myrcene, beta-pinene and alpha-humulene, so they are the ones that make us smell a hemp-like aroma when sipping an IPA beer.

Other interesting facts about hops

Hops are a natural preservative – it is because of their antibacterial properties that they were added to beer for export, which traveled thousands of kilometers, including to India. This is how IPA (Indian Pale Ale) beer was created. In turn, the idea of adding hops to beer was spread in Europe by our ancient ancestors – the Slavs. Their special drink was barley beer with hop cones. In the Middle Ages, hops were valued precisely for their antiseptic effect.



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