This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The Hop (Humulus Lupulus) grows wild in our hedges, and copses, with only male flowers; but when cultivated in the Hop garden it produces also the female catkins, or strobiles, which are commonly known as Hops, and are largely used for brewing purposes. The Hop was employed by the Saxons, and was imported into England from Flanders (1524). Soon afterwards a petition was presented to Parliament against the-use of Hops, describing the plant as "a wicked weed which will spoil the taste of drink, and endanger the people." Persons, have fallen into a deep sleep after remaining for some while in a storehouse of Hops. "Hops," says Evelyn, in his Pomona (1670), "transmuted our wholesome ale into beer, which doubtless much altered our constitutions. This one ingredient,, by some suspected not unworthily, preserves the drink indeed, but repays the pleasure with tormenting diseases, and a shorter life." The "hops," or chaffy capsules of the flower seeds, turn brown early in the autumn; they possess a heavy, fragrant,, aromatic odour, and a very bitter, pungent taste. The yellow glands at the base of their scales afford a volatile, strong-smelling, oil, and an abundant yellow powder (lupulin) which possesses most of the virtues owned by the plant.
Various Simples may be made from the Hop (such as Hop tea, Hop wine, and the Lupulin given in powder), each of which will ease pain, and lull-to sleep. Hop tea is an excellent drink in delirium tremens; also it will give ease to an irritable bladder. Sherry in which Hops have been steeped is a capital stomachic cordial. And a pillow stuffed with newly-dried Hops was successfully prescribed by Dr. Willis for our King George the Third when sedative medicines had failed to give him sleep; as likewise for our present King, when Prince of Wales, at the time of his severe attack of typhoid fever (1871), it being then used in conjunction with a most grateful draught of ale which had been previously withheld. The young tops of the Hop plant, if gathered in the spring, and boiled, may be eaten as asparagus; they were formerly brought to market tied up in small bundles for table use. The Hop is tonic, and acts on the kidneys, besides having antiseptic properties. "Les jets de houblon" (says I'Art Culinaire) are the spring vegetable far excellence in Belgium; the young sprouts are boiled in salted water, with a squeeze of lemon-juice, and served "au beurre" or "a la creme." A poached egg is the unfailing accompaniment: you cannot realize the one without the other.
Hops, and poached eggs, are the Orestes and Pylades of the Belgian cuisine. If boiled in water, with a little salt, pepper, and vinegar, Hop sprigs, tips, or points, make a nice, wholesome salad when cold. For the severe morning sickness of pregnant women, to drink freely of Hop tea (an ounce of the Hops to a pint of boiling water) will afford great relief; or a glass of bitter ale will ward off the attacks.