Does Hops Cause Depression?


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Recently it seems like there’s been a proliferation of hop-flavored beverages on the market. Not just beer, but also sodas, fizzy waters, and other gently bitter elixirs are competing for attention with kombucha and fancy herbal infusions. This seems like a good thing to us – more people getting some bitters in their lives couldn’t hurt! But it also brought to mind this week’s topic: a common warning herbalists make, that there’s potential for cases where hops cause depression, or worsen it.

This can absolutely be true in some cases, and we ourselves regularly pass on this caution! But as with most things in herbalism, it’s not so cut-and-dried as it seems at first. In this episode we’ll discuss historical and contemporary info sources on the subject, and try to get a more nuanced perspective. In certain situations, the cold and sedative nature of hops does make it contraindicated for depression. But in others, the term ‘depression’ is used as a catch-all for a variety of mental states, some of which hops can improve.

So does hops cause depression? It depends on the context! But a good grounding in herbal energetics helps us see through the superficiality and understand which situations are which.

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