At first glance, beer and cannabis are just drugs used for recreational purposes. How could they ever be related? Cannabis is the active ingredient of the plant Cannabis Sativa or Indica, whose action is primarily on the brain’s receptors. It has over 100 cannabinoids, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) being the main ones. They are used to make gummies and cookies, giving you some of the best Sunday Scaries CBD.
Beer, also a psychoactive agent, is a depressant in high doses and stimulant in small amounts. It is made through a fermentation process involving cereal grains, yeast, and a unique plant called Humulus lupulus, commonly referred to as hops.
So, what is the linking factor between these two commodities? It all comes down to the ‘unique plant’ we have mentioned earlier, referred to as hops. Hops and cannabis have strikingly resembling qualities, both superficially and intrinsically.
Time to take this up a notch and dissect it further.
When you look at both plants’ taxonomy, you will find that they belong to the family cannabaceae, comprising eight genera. This finding was validated by scientists recently in 2012 by studying the plant’s genes. Among the genera are Humulus lupulus and cannabis.
The evidence is well supported when you observe the plants. Starting with the obvious, cannabis and hops both have green leaves. Once they attain maturation, their buds appear as cones, and it is almost hard to differentiate them. Their margins are serrated and have jaw-like edges.
They have their leaves lobed in a palmar pattern meaning that they are divergent (start from one point and spread out). Cannabis and hops are both dioecious in that they have their male and female plants separate.
A study was carried out to produce a graft between hops and cannabis, and although the plant did survive, both plants still retained their constituents. Research is yet to improve and find ways to cross the biochemical nature of both plants. It can be a significant breakthrough.
The plants are also highly fibrous, and this fiber is used in the manufacture of clothes, paper, and rope.
A Brief History of Beer and Cannabis
Upon experimenting with different herbs and plants to help preserve beer, Londoners finally found solace in hops, and since then, it became popular. Beer connoisseurs played a big part in the spread of this discovery.
They added it to beer to maintain it for long periods. It also added a bitter flavor to the beer, which is prominent to this day. There are reports that some people used hops for spiritual purposes, which has also been reported with marijuana—made famous by the Rastafari community. Christian ascetics used hops to suppress sex drive, thus maintaining their purity.
Terpenes are compounds that give fruits (or, in this case, beer, and cannabis) their unique smell. In hops, they include alpha humelin, myrcene, etc.
As expected, they are also found in cannabis. Now you know why alcohol and weed go well together.
The mind-altering agents that constitute hops and marijuana are alpha-acids (cohumulone, adhumulone, and humulone) and THC. These constituents are very potent and are referred to as terpenoids, and they mediate the physiological processes that take place in the body upon consumption.
Similarity in Use
Hops have a relief effect on the digestive system in that they help stop involuntary contractions of the intestines, also referred to as spasms. In the same manner, CBD is used in the management of inflammatory bowel disease.
Hops and cannabis are used as soothing agents and have been very efficient in treating anxiety, unrest, insomnia, and the pursuit of calm. With cannabis, anti-anxiety effects and sleeping disorder management is seen explicitly with CBD.
There is a rich history among the Chinese that hops alleviated sleeping problems. Users combined Valerian root and dried hop leaves to create sleeping pillows. It helped them reach calm effectively in such a manner that opioids paled in comparison.
The mechanism of action used to achieve this is by the neurotransmitter GABA. It performs the inhibitory function by reducing nervous system excitation.
However, according to research, hops have been found to have a significant amount of phytoestrogens. Too much consumption can lead to males’ feminization, which can be pretty disastrous to everyday life. Please indulge responsibly.
The lines between beer and cannabis converge in their constituents and origins. You have seen that hops, used in the manufacture of beer as a preservative and giving it that bitter taste, have significant similarities to cannabis.
They share features under the cannabaceae family and are used for recreation and medicinal purposes. These include managing anxiety, inducing calm, sleeping disorders, stomach problems, and the manufacture of clothes and ropes due to the high fiber content.
It does not stop there. Their physical characteristics are also strikingly similar. The morphology of the leaves and cones’ production when mature is just a confirmation of what is and holds. Cannabis and beer are, indeed, cousins.