Beer is one of the most popular beverages consumed by Americans and now scientists say one of its ingredients may one day be used to treat serious diseases.
Werner Kaminsky, a chemist at the University of Washington in Seattle, ran an experiment to examine a molecule in beer called humulone.
“It actually can introduce a healing effect,” said Kaminsky.
Humulones are made from hops, the ingredient in beer that gives it a bitter flavor. In the right amounts, Kaminsky said, there’s evidence they have beneficial effects on diabetes, cancer and inflammation, and can even aid weight loss.
Kaminsky used high-powered X-rays to examine the structure of the humulone molecules.
He saw how humulone molecules are rearranged during the brewing process and how they could fit together with other molecules in the body like nuts and bolts.
Pairing the humulones with illness-causing molecules correctly could one day be the key to making them into safe and effective drugs. Also, the humulone molecule is as abundant as beer.
“It’s readily available. Hops production is large, so it’s not a compound that is difficult and expensive to make,” said Kaminsky.
The concentration of humulones in beer alone is too low to yield any health benefits, and excessive beer consumption will not lead to good health. But if its benefits are further confirmed, humulones may someday be used to create medications that improve health.
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Werner Kaminsky, University of Washington