The hops plant, Humulus lupulus, is a climbing plant native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Hops are the cone-like, fruiting bodies (strobiles) of the plant and are typically harvested from cultivated female plants. Hops are most commonly used as a flavoring agent in beer.
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For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
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Combining valerian root with other mildly sedating herbs is common both in Europe and the United States. Chamomile, hops, passion flower, lemon balm, American scullcap, and catnip are commonly recommended by doctors.3 These herbs can also be used alone as mild sedatives for those suffering from insomnia or nervous exhaustion. Chamomile is a particularly good choice for younger children whose insomnia may be related to gastrointestinal upset. Hops and lemon balm are approved by the German government for relieving sleep disturbances.4 In a double-blind trial, the combination of valerian root and hops was significantly more effective than valerian root alone for treating insomnia.5
Soothing the stomach and promoting healthy digestion have been the strongest historical use of this herb. Hops tea was also recommended by herbalists as a mild sedative and remedy for insomnia, particularly for those with insomnia resulting from an upset stomach.6 Hops are high in bitter substances. The two primary bitter constituents are known as humulone and lupulone.7 These are thought to be responsible for the appetite-stimulating properties of hops.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Soothing the stomach and promoting healthy digestion have been the strongest historical use of this herb. Hops tea was also recommended by herbalists as a mild sedative and remedy for insomnia, particularly for those with insomnia resulting from an upset stomach.1 A pillow filled with hops was sometimes used to encourage sleep. Traditionally, hops were also thought by herbalists to have a diuretic effect and to treat sexual neuroses. A poultice of hops was used topically to treat sores and skin injuries and to relieve muscle spasms and nerve pain.2
How It Works
How It Works
Hops are high in bitter substances. The two primary bitter constituents are known as humulone and lupulone.8 These are thought to be responsible for the appetite-stimulating properties of hops. Hops also contain about 1–3% volatile oils. Hops have been shown to have mild sedative properties, although the mechanism is unclear.9 Some herbal preparations for insomnia combine hops with more potent sedative herbs, such as valerian. Hops also contain phytoestrogens that bind estrogen receptors in test tube studies but are thought to have only mild estrogen-like actions.10
How to Use It
The German Commission E monograph recommends a single application of 500 mg of dried herb for anxiety or insomnia.11 The dried fruits can be made into a tea by pouring 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water over 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) of the fruit. Steep for ten to fifteen minutes before drinking. Tinctures, 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 ml) two or three times per day, can also be used. As mentioned above, many herbal preparations use hops in combination with herbal sedatives, including valerian, passion flower, and scullcap.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
Use of hops is generally safe. However, some people have been reported to experience an allergic skin rash after handling the dried flowers. This is most likely due to a pollen sensitivity.12
2. Foster S. Herbs for Your Health. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1996, 56–7.
3. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 279.
4. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 147, 160–1.
5. Koetter U, Schrader E, Käufeler R, Brattström A. A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, prospective clinical study to demonstrate clinical efficacy of a fixed valerian hops extract combination (Ze 91019) in patients suffering from non-organic sleep disorder. Phytother Res 2007;21:847-51.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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