Hops (Humulus lupulus)
The source of the bitter flavour in beer, hops function primarily as a mild sedative. To induce sleep, it is often combined with other herbal sedatives such as passionflower, Valerian root, and Skullcap. By soothing the nervous system, hops produces a calm state of mind about 20 minutes after ingesting it. The United States is the world?s leading producer of hops.
Hops were used traditionally by the Greeks, Romans, and the Chinese to treat poor digestion and intestinal disturbances. Additionally, the Chinese also used hops to treat leprosy and tuberculosis.
Part of the plant used: FRUITING BODIES.
0.5 g, one to three times daily.
When workers in hop fields were found to be prone to fall asleep on the job, it was discovered that hops contain sedative properties. However, the source of the sedative in live hop plants seems to be an oil that evaporates upon storage. The sedative properties of dried hop plants appears to come from methylbutenol, which either develops over time or is made in the body from constituents of the hop plant (1). The calming effect of hops makes it a potential treatment for Insomnia and Anxiety. Because the effect is mild, the herb is often combined with other treatments. Little scientific evidence exists to support the sedative effect of hops (2).
Hops are also used to improve appetite and digestive health, like other bitter plants.
Hops may be effective in reducing muscle spasms (3).
SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS
Aside from occasional allergic reactions, hops appear to be quite safe. The body does not easily tolerate large doses of hops. Hops may cause contact Dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Some species of dogs, especially greyhounds, have been found to be extremely sensitive to hops, resulting in death at times (4). The nature of this toxicity has not yet been determined.
INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS
Do not to take hops with other Insomnia or Anxiety medications, unless otherwise directed by a physician. One animal study showed that hops can increase the effects of sedative drugs (5).
1. Schulz V, et al. Rational phytotherapy. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1998: 82-83.
2. Schulz V, et al. Rational phytotherapy. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1998: 83.
3. Caujolle, F., et.al. 1969. Spasmolytic action of hop (humulus lupuls). Agressologie, 10(5).
4. Duncan KL, et al. Malignant hyperthermia-like reaction secondary to ingestion of hops in five dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 210: 51-54, 1997.
5. Lee KM, et al. Effects of Humulus lupulus extract on the central nervous system in mice. Planta Med 59(Suppl.): A691, 1993.