Botanical Name: Humulus lupus
Plant Family: Cannabacae (the cannabis family)
Plant part used medicinally: Strobile (cone-shaped flower)
Traditional Uses: The use of hops as a medicinal plant has more than 2000 years of history for insomnia, anxiety, nerve pain, headache, delirium tremens and indigestion. Native Americans used hops as a sedative and for fevers and intestinal pain. According to renowned herbalist Matthew Wood “hops is suited to conditions where there is sleeplessness, pain, twitching and tremors associated with exhaustion”.
Important chemical components: Terpenes such as myrcene, limonene, α- humulene and bitter acids such as humulone
Cautions/side effects: traditionally contraindicated in depression, contains some phytoestrogens so avoid in estrogen-sensitive cancers
Research demonstrates hops has benefits for insomnia and sleep quality. These effects are attributed to ability to increase activity of GABA, a neurotransmitter that quiets the central nervous system (CNS).
Studies on hops extract showed:
- reduced nocturnal activity and increased sleeping time in animals
- combination of valerian and hops reduced noise-induced sleep disturbance in healthy volunteers and increased time spent in deep sleep
- valerian/hops combination was as effective as a benzodiazepine for insomnia
Franco L et al. The sedative effects of hops (Humulus lupulus), a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm. Acta Physiol Hung. 2012 Jun;99(2):133-9
Schiller H et al. Sedating effects of Humulus lupulus L. extracts. Phytomedicine. 2006 Sep;13(8):535-41
Müller-Limmroth W, Ehrenstein W. [Experimental studies of the effects of Seda-Kneipp on the sleep of sleep disturbed subjects; implications for the treatment of different sleep disturbances (author's transl)]. Med Klin. 1977 Jun 24;72(25):1119-25. German
Schmitz M, Jäckel M. [Comparative study for assessing quality of life of patients with exogenous sleep disorders (temporary sleep onset and sleep interruption disorders) treated with a hops-valarian preparation and a benzodiazepine drug]. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1998;148(13):291-8. German