Hops Summary:

Without a doubt the thing that pops into everybodies head when they think of hops is their contribution to beer. They are in fact one of the main ingredients in beer across the entire world. Their bitter, aromatic flavor gives the beer a pleasant taste, and balances the flavor of the fermented malt. Hops also help preserve the beer, and make it have a longer shelf life. 

Medicinally speaking, hops are a sedative. They are used in tincture or capsule form to treat insomnia, headaches, anxiety, and nervous tension. They also offer estrogenic effects, making them very useful for females going through menopause, but not so great for men trying to avoid testosterone depletion. 

Hops are actually so sedating, there's a common condition among hop farmers known as "hop-picker fatigue" which causes hop pickers to tire easily after all-day exposure to the active flowering hops. 

Hops are actually the only other member of the cannabis family. Just like cannabis, the resin of the female flowers exclusively are used as medicine. 

Herbal Actions:

[3, 5, 6]

  • Sedative
  • Hypnotic
  • Spasmolytic (Antispasmodic)
  • Astringent
  • Bitter tonic
  • Estrogenic
  • Sedative
  • Antimicrobial

Botanical Name:

Humulus lupulus





Part used:

Strobile (Female flowers)



Dried Herb Equivalent:


Liquid Extract (1:2):


Tincture (1:5):




[5, 6]

Nervous system

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Nervous tension
  • Neuralgia


  • Dyspepsia
  • Nervous dyspepsia
  • Mucous colitis


  • Menopausal insomnia
  • Hot flashes 


  • Skin ulcers

Common Names:

  • Hops

Traditional Uses:

Much of the history of hops surrounds the practice of beer making. It was in fact a principle 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 delerium tremens, gynecological disorders and to reduce menopausal symptoms [2, 6]. 

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

    Botanical Description:

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

    Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

    Hops is native to Britain. [3]. 

    Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

    Hops is generally given in a formula along with other herbs.  


    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]. 

    Pharmacology and Medical Research:



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

    Toxicity and Contraindications:

    • Hops is traditionally contraindicated with depression [6]. 


    • Caution with anti-estrogenic drugs. 
    • Caution advised with depressed patients as this herb has a marked sedative action on the central nervous system [6]. 
    • The stem hairs of hops have been reported to cause contact dermatitis and urticaria in some individuals [10]. 


    Combines well with valerian and passionflower for insomnia. [3]. 


    Justin Cooke

    The Sunlight Experiment

    Updated: March 2017

    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.

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