You are probably familiar with hops. These days (especially in Colorado) you can’t throw a rock without hitting a craft brewer or a home brewer, each of whom has his/her own philosophy regarding how much and what kind of this fragrant flower to use when creating mankind’s favorite alcoholic beverage.
“Hops” is, in other words, synonymous with “beer.” But it may surprise you to know that hops also has an ancient history as an herbal remedy, particularly in the realm of sleep.
Hops, a.k.a. Humulus lupulus, contains valeric acid, a carboxylic acid named after another of its natural sources, valerian. Both plants are known for their sleep-inducing abilities and are extremely effective as a tincture for insomnia. I have been using a store-bought tincture that includes both, but I am anxious to brew my own!
I was lucky enough to find WILD HOPS growing along the same creek where I always seem to find beautiful herbs. They grow in long vines resembling grape vines that drape themselves over every rock and tree stump you can see. The smell is strong and resin-y, similar to another familiar plant in the Cannabinaceae family.
Unlike that other familiar plant, however, a tincture of hops has no mind-altering effects. It is completely safe when used on an as-needed basis and does not have the unpleasant side-effects often associated with over-the-counter sleep aids, such as grogginess/hangover. Here is how to make it:
-glass jar with tight-fitting lid
-80 proof grain alcohol, such as Vodka
-Dried hops* (Purchase hops here)
Fill your sterilized jar halfway with the dried hops. Then fill the jar completely with the grain alcohol. Screw lid on tight. Label with the contents, today’s date and a date six weeks from now. Store in a dark place, shaking at least a few times a week for six weeks. After six weeks, strain your tincture into 2 mL dropper bottles. They will keep for several years!
*You can use fresh hops, but this will make your tincture more susceptible to mold, so
keep an extra eye out.
To use your tincture, put one dropperful into a little water and drink 30 minutes before bed. If your insomnia is stubborn, you could combine this with a second dropperful of Valerian Root tincture (more on that later). I have found the combo to be extremely helpful with my insomnia and restless legs. No strange dreams, no grogginess, just beautiful, restful sleep.
Sweet dreams, everyone.