I’m part Irish and St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on March 17th. In my line work, St. Paddy’s Day doesn’t get the respect it deserves, imho… Maybe because we don’t serve green beer! (Check out the origins of green beer here.) But I digress. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to find some type of aromatherapy connection to St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly, shamrocks don’t produce essential oils so the obvious choice was a non-starter.
With only a week to go, I had almost lost hope of finding an essential oil to feature for St. Paddy’s Day. Then I remembered hop essential oil. Yes, hops. You know… the stuff they make beer from. To be honest, I was hoping for a whiskey connection but they don’t make essential oil from barley, so hop will have to do.
Hops are the flower or seed cones of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus. Hops are best known as a beer flavoring and stability agent. They impart a bitter, zesty, or citric taste to the brew and they also add an antibacterial effect to it as well.
Hops can be used for:
Hop essential oil has an herbaceous smell with some fruity, spicy tones, but it also, not surprisingly, has some bitter tones similar to those in the various ales.
It blends well with:
There is very little written about the safety, or lack thereof, in regards to hop essential oil, so your best bet is to play it safe and make sure you always dilute it if you’re applying it to your skin.
The first recorded use of hops to make beer is in the 9th century. Before then, they used something called gruit which is a combination of various herbs like burdock root, dandelion, ground ivy, heather, horehound, and marigold. But those blends were discontinued when they discovered that beer made from hops was less prone to spoiling.
Naming trivia – The essential oil can either be called hop or hops, depending whether it’s named after the plant (hop) or the flowers/seed cones (hops) that are distilled. Both are correct.
Hops = the flowers or seed cones of the hop plant
Hop = the plant that hops grow on