Hops (Humulus lupulus)


Hops Summary

Hops have become famous for the role they play in beer. The unique flavor is embraced around the world.

The female flowers of the hops plant have a characteristic resin, similar to cannabis. High in the terpene myrcene — hops have a wide range of medicinal attributes in the same chemicals that give its flavor.

Medicinally, hops is used as a sedative, muscle relaxant, and estrogenic. Myrcene and other phytochemicals help to promote parasympathetic nervous system dominance to combat states of high stress and insomnia.


  • Insomnia
  • Menopause
  • Anxiety


  • None noted

Herbal Actions:

  • Sedative
  • Hypnotic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Astringent
  • Bitter tonic
  • Estrogenic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anxiolytic
  • Nervine Relaxant

What is Hops Used For?

The classic use for hops is in beer making. It is one of the main ingredients int he beverage, and is responsible for beers unique flavor.

Medicinally, hops is used for nervous conditions for its ability to relax the mind, and initiate sleep. It is hypnotic, and anxiolytic, making it useful for anxiety, especially when it is affecting sleep.

Hops also have estrogenic qualities, making them useful for treating symptoms of menopause or other female complaints linked to low estrogen.


Traditional Uses of Hops

Much of the history of hops surround the practice of beer making.

The hops flowers we, in fact, a principal ingredient in the making of beer since at least 2000 years ago by Germanic populations [7] — but was used medicinally by these peoples, and others across the world as well.

Hops have been used in the past to treat insomnia, excitability, neuralgia, headaches, hysteria, indigestion, mucous colitis, kidney stones, and delirium tremens, gynecological disorders and to reduce menopausal symptoms [2, 6].

The British herbal pharmacopeia lists hops as a sedative, hypnotic, and topical bactericidal. It's indicated for neuralgia, insomnia, excitability, priapism, mucous colitis, and topically to treat crural ulcers [3].


Herb Details: Hops

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Female flowers, resin

Family Name

  • Cannabaceae


  • Hops are native to Great Britain — but are now cultivated across the world for their use in beer-brewing.

Constituents of Interest

  • Humulene
  • Lupulene
  • Myrecene

Common Names

  • Hops
  • Hopfen
  • Hoppen
  • Wild Hops


Avoid use while pregnant or breastfeeding due to high estrogenic activity of this herb.

Duration of Use

  • Avoid long-term use in therapeutic doses.

Botanical Information

Hops is a member of the cannabis family (Cannabaceae), with the most notable member being the marijuana plant.

There are about 11 genera in this family, with 170 different species.

Most of the plants in the Cannabaceae family have few common characteristics but share a common ancestor.

The hops plant is similar to the marijuana plant in that they both have therapeutic constituents in the resin of the female flowers that act directly on the central nervous systems of humans.

Hops is a dioecious climbing herb which can grow up to 3-6m tall. The female flowers are the part used as medicine. [3].


Pharmacology & Medical Research


The constituent 8-prenylnaringenin had the strongest competing action against 17-beta-estradiol on both beta- and alpha-estrogen receptors [1].

Isoflavonoid phytoestrogens have been associated with a reduction in the incidence of breast and prostate cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, and menopausal symptoms [8, 9]. This provides some backup for many of the traditional uses of hops.



Biter resins (15-30%), volatile oils (0.3%-1%) (humulene, beta-caryophyllene, myrcene, farnesene), polyphenolic condensed tannins (2-4%), flavonoids (astragalin, kaempferol, quercetin, quercetrin, and rutin), chalcones (xanthohumol), oleoresin (3%-12%) (humulone, lupulene), estrogenic substances, lipids [4, 5].


Clinical Applications Of Hops:

Hops is a reliable sedative for decreasing SNS dominance in both an acutely stressed, and chronically stressed individual. It's useful for anxiety, muscle spasms, and insomnia.

The estrogenic effects of hops makes it useful for some cases of PMS, abnormal uterine bleeding, and menopause.



Caution advised when using hops with depression. Recommended to avoid this combination due to the sedating effects of hops.



Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated may 2019)


Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Milligan, S. R., Kalita, J. C., Pocock, V., Van De Kauter, V., Stevens, J. F., Deinzer, M. L. & De Keukeleire, D. (2000). The endocrine activities of 8-prenylnaringenin and related hop (Humulus lupulus L.) flavonoids. The journal of clinical endocrinology & metabolism, 85(12), 4912-4915.

  2. Goetz, P. (1990). Treatment of hot flashes due to ovarian insufficiency using a hops extract (Humulus lupus). Reviews of Phytotherapie Pratique, 4, 13-15.

  3. British Herbal Medicine Association. (1983). British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Bournemouth, UK: Author.

  4. Wren, R. C. (1956). Potter's new cyclopaedia of botanical drugs and preparations.

  5. Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

  6. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient. Edinburgh [u.a., MO: Churchill Livingstone.

  7. Swahn, J. O. (1991). The lore of spices: Their history and uses around the world. New York: Crescent Books.

  8. Knight, D. C., & Eden, J. A. (1996). A review of the clinical effects of phytoestrogens. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 87(5, Part 2), 897-904.

  9. Cassidy, A., & Milligan, S. (1998). How significant are environmental estrogens to women?. Climacteric, 1(3), 229-242.

  10. Estrada, J. L., Gozalo, F., Cecchini, C., & Casquete, E. (2002). Contact urticaria from hops (Humulus lupulus) in a patient with previous urticaria–angioedema from peanut, chestnut and banana. Contact dermatitis, 46(2), 127-127.