To those of you who love to kick back with a frosty brew now and then, you may be happy to know that beer brewing and hop harvesting will never look the same again. It seems that specific hop leaves, like those unfit for beer brewing, may contain some pretty powerful antioxidants. Craft beer brewers will tell you that it’s the hops that give the sudsy stuff its bitterness. While that may be so, researchers from the Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences have found healthful antioxidants that can aid in the fight against gum disease and cavities in the discarded portion of hops known as bracts.
How Hops Work
In earlier research Yoshihisa Tanaka and his team found that polyphenols contained in the hop leaves could assist with the ongoing fight against dental disease. Unfortunately, drinking pints during a game or after work is not going to immediately turn your gingivitis around or give you a healthy smile. In 2010, farmers produced 23,701 tons of hops in America yet the bracts from these hops were thrown away. The results from this study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, indicated that extracts from bracts actually stopped bacteria from adhering to teeth and other dental surfaces like crowns and fillings. In addition it prevents the release of harmful toxins known to enhance bacterial growth.
So now there is a new purpose for all those bracts that get discarded in the interest of crafting your tasty brews. Even though the different ways hops could be applied to dental applications has yet to be identified, for this study Tanaka and team used a unique laboratory technique called chromatography. With this technique, they were able to identify three compounds of disease-fighting antioxidants in the green leaves and white flowers of hops. These bracts also contained enormous amounts of healthful antioxidants called proanthocyanidins.
Herbal Uses for Hops
Besides its use as a bitter agent in beer brewing, hops have also been used as an herbal remedy. Most notably it has been shown to be an alternative to Valerian, which is an herb that helps with insomnia, anxiety, tension and restlessness. Hops herbal tea has been recommended to treat these conditions. Of course, as with all herbs you should take precautions before using it medicinally. Always contact your health professional to be sure an herbal remedy is suitable and safe for you.
Feel free to call us at Dr. Mark W Langberg with any questions you may have about herbal supplements and your dental health. We enjoy keeping you current on oral health and dental advancements whenever possible. We want you to know that we take your concerns very seriously since good overall general health cannot be achieved without having the best oral health possible. And vice versa!
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790