MORE SCIENCE! (sorry, I promise to try and write something humourous next time).
Now we all know (or are certainly telling ourselves) that beer is highly nutritious and beneficial to health and there have been plenty of dodgy news paper stories to help back us up. Happily, we now have more ammunition with which to defend our drinking habits as more boffins have been studying that wonder of nature, the hop, and come to the handy conclusion that it may be packed with the biggest health punch.
Hops have been one of the key ingredients of beer — along with grain, yeast, and water — for centuries. Along with their purpose of balancing flavors (adding bitterness to the sweet maltiness) hops have been long known to contain antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which are useful in preventing microbial contamination during fermentation in the brewing process. But these same antibacterial features so useful in brewing have been linked to medical benefits, too. Hops were used throughout history as a form of folk medicine to treat sleeping problems, hair loss, anxiety, and inflammation. Recently, studies have also found that hops may fight dementia: they contain antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress and cognitive decline.
However, there is still not enough evidence to support the notion that hops can treat diseases. In order to unlock their potential, the latest researchers decided to further analyze how to zoom in on the compounds that may be advantageous. In the latest study, they noted that there are two compounds in hops that are promising from a medical standpoint: humulones, which are alpha acids with anti-inflammatory and anticancer features; and lupulones, beta acids that may also have some healthy properties. However, in order to make a medicine from these compounds, scientists would need to properly extract them from the hops — but existing methods are messy, and there haven’t been analytical standards to compare them to. Ideally they hope to create humulones and lupulones synthetically,to ease the process of turning them into medication.
We think they are being a bit wet however, we work with hops everyday. Sure they get messy, but if the end result is worth it (like a fine West Coast Pale Ale), then what is the issue? More news on this when it breaks.
Apologies to Will our Head Brewer for my hamfisted attempt at understanding science stuff. Ed