Hops

Updated on November 15, 2020

Scientific: Humulus lupulus [WikiPedia]

Appearance: Humulus lupulus is a perennial vine in the family Cannabaceae and is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Hops are used in beer-making, to flavor food and as a perfume scent. The main medicinal uses of hops are as a sedative, and for restlessness, anxiety and excitability.

Parts Used: The above-ground parts of the plant, dried and cut.

Common Uses: Unlike other well-established medicinal plants like valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Valerianaceae), hops does not have a 2,000-plus-year history of traditional medicinal use within European herbal medicine. The historic use of hops is interesting as its technical properties — as flavor and for the preservation of beer — were discovered in the mid ages, but reports of its medicinal use from that time were not very encouraging. Hildegard von Bingen, the noted German abbess, herbalist, and author (1098–1179), wrote in Physica, a text on observations of nature and creatures and their virtues, that hops has little use for humans, noting that it “increases melancholy in men.” However, she notes that “its bitterness fends off decomposition of beverages and increases shelf life.” With these antimicrobial properties and its ideal flavor, in the region of Germany from the 11th century on, hops replaced all other substances that were formerly used to attempt to improve the taste and increase the storage time of beer. The Reinheitsgebot (the German beer purity law) was formulated in 1516, which stated that beer could be made only of malt, hops, and water. (Yeast, an obviously essential ingredient to create the fermentation process, was not known at that time, nor the chemical processes that take place during the brewing process.)

The chemicals in hops seem to have weak effects similar to the hormone estrogen. Some chemicals in hops also seem to reduce swelling, prevent infections, and cause sleepiness. Hops is therefore commonly used orally for anxiety, sleep disorders such as the inability to sleep (insomnia) or disturbed sleep due to rotating or nighttime work hours (shift work disorder), restlessness, tension, excitability, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness, irritability, and symptoms of menopause among other uses. But there is limited scientific evidence to support using hopes for any of these conditions.

Alternatives and Adjuncts:

Topic Specific References:

  • Learn more about Humulus lupulus [ScienceDirect]
  • Effects of a hops (Humulus lupulus L.) dry extract supplement on self-reported depression, anxiety and stress levels in apparently healthy young adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot study. [PubMED]
  • Anticancer Activity and Mechanism of Xanthohumol: A Prenylated Flavonoid From Hops (Humulus lupulus L.) [Ethnopharmacology]
  • Humulus lupulus – a story that begs to be told. A review [WileyOnline]
  • Effects of a hops (Humulus lupulus L.) dry extract supplement on self-reported depression, anxiety and stress levels in apparently healthy young adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot study [Internation Journal of Endocrinoly and Metabolism]

Used In:

PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.

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