Hops, the female flower of the Hop plant,
have been used since the early Middle Ages to preserve and
flavor beer. Reports that workers in hop fields tired easily led
herbalists to discover its sedative property. Today, the herb is
used to help relieve insomnia, anxiety, pain and indigestion.

Two species of climbing perennials make up this genus, distributed in northern temperate regions. The golden form of Humulus lupulus and the variegated form of H. japonicus are popular in cultivation as fast-growing, colorful climbers. Humulus lupulus "Aureus" is among the finest golden-leafed climbers, with little or no tendency to scorch in sun. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants; only females produce the decorative cone-like inflorescences known as "hops". Most plants sold as ornamentals or for brewing are female. Beer was originally made using bitter herbs such as Glechoma hederacea (See, ground ivy). From the 9th century, the use of hops in brewing beer gained popularity due to their preservative qualities, though acceptance of the new ingredient was slow. Regarded as an "unwholesome weed", the use of hops in beer was banned in Britain by Henry VI (1422-61) and again by Henry VIII (1509-47). Hops were used medicinally by several native N American tribes for insomnia and pain, and were well-established in European medicine by the 17th century. Culpeper recommended them for skin infections, jaundice, headaches, and "heat of the liver and stomach" (The English Physician Enlarged, 1653). Extracts of hops were listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia (1831-1916).

Hops exert a calming effect on the nervous system—so calming, in fact, that they may cause temporary impairment of male sexual desire. For this reason, the herb was commonly cultivated in medieval monestaries. Hops are used today as a pain reliever, antidepressant, sleep aid, and a treatment for menopausal symptoms.

Twining, herbaceous climber with bristly stems and 3-5-lobed, coarsely toothed leaves, to 15cm (6in) long. Tiny green male flowers are produced in branched clusters; larger females appear in strobili ("hops") beneath soft, pale green, aromatic bracts, to 2.5cm (1in) long, in summer.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Common Hops, European Hops, Houblon
Botanical Name:
Humulus lupulus
Native Location:
Western Asia, Europe, North America.
Moist, well-drained, rich soil in sun or partial shade. Remove previous season's growth during dormancy. Thin new shoots as required. Prone to Verticillium wilt and downy mildew.
By seed sown in spring at 15-18°C (59-64°F); by softwood or greenwood cuttings in spring and by leaf-bud cuttings in summer (from female plants). Golden hops comes reasonably true from seed.
Flower are picked in autumn and used fresh or dried for infusions, liquid extracts, tinctures, tablets, and oil distillation. Young shoots are cut in spring for culinary use.
Plant Facts:
Hop is a member of the Cannabidaceae family, which also includes marijuana. It's a climbing vine that grows to a height of 40 feet and bears coarse, heart-shaped leaves, as well as male and female flowers, each of which grow on separate plants. The fruit does not form until the plant's third year.
3-6m (10-20ft)
(Golden Hop)
Has yellow foliage.

Is an early-maturing hop, regarded as the best for home brewing, especially dark beers. Thrives in cool climates; highly resistant to mildew.

Wye Challenger
Is a red-stemmed, free-flowering hop, resistant to mildew.
Native to western Asia, Europe and North America, hop grows wild in meadows and along riverbanks in rich soil and full sun. It is also cultivated in various temperate zones for brewing purposes.
Parts Used:
Only the strobiles, or female flowers, are used for medicinal purposes. These strobiles contain glands that produce therapeutic substances, leaves, shoots, oil.
Hops contain bitter principles, such as lupulon, humulon and valerianic acid, which stimulate digestion; flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have antioxidant properties; volatile oil, which has sedative, antispasmodic and antibacterial effects; tannins, which tighten the skin and the mucous membranes; amino acids, which alleviate tension; and estrogenic compounds, which have a hormonal action.
A bitter, tonic herb that is aromatic and diuretic, relieves pain, and relaxes spasms. It is a potent sedative and has hormonal and anti-bacterial effects.
Vitamin Content:
Vitamin A, Thiamin
Hops have long been used to relieve nervous tension, anxiety, irritability and excitability and are considered an excellent remedy for sleep disorders. Hops are also used for many types of digestive complaints, such as gas, bloating, indigestion, abdominal cramping, diarrhea and a poor appetite. Topical applications can help alleviate psoriasis, skin infections and eczema. Note: Hops are not recommended for people who have a history of depression.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for insomnia, nervous tension, anxiety, irritability, nervous intestinal complaints (including irritable bowel syndrome), priapism, and premature ejaculation. Externally for skin infections, eczema, herpes, and leg ulcers. Combined with Valeriana officinalis (See, valerian) as a sedative, and with Chamaemelum nobile (See, roman chamomile) or Mentha x piperita (See, peppermint) for nervous digestive problems. Contraindicated in depression.
To treat nerve pain, tension headaches, insomnia, and nervousness. Germany's Commission E has approved the use of hops to treat anxiety, agitation, nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of hops is 0.5 gm of cut herb.
Possible Side Effects:
Hops' side effects include excessive sedation, dizziness, and allergic reactions.
Drug Interactions:
Taking hops with these drugs may increase the risk of sedation and mental depression and impairment:
Amobarbital, (Amytal)
Amobarbital and Secobarbital, (Tuinal)
Butabarbital, (Butisol Sodium)
Butalbital, Acetaminophen, and Caffeine, (Esgic, Fioricet)
Butalbital, Aspirin, and Caffeine, (Fiorinal)
Mephobarbital, (Mebaral)
Methohexital, (Brevital, Brevital Sodium)
Pentobarbital, (Nembutal)
Phenobarbital, (Luminal Sodium, PMS-Phenobarbital)
Primidone, (Apo-Primidone, Mysoline)
Secobarbital, (Seconal)
Thiopental, (Pentothal)
Disease Effects:
May worsen depression.
Food Interactions:
May increase sedative effects when consumed with alcohol.
Supplement Interactions:
May enhance therapeutic and adverse effects of herbs and supplements that have sedative properties, such as 5-HTP, Kava Kava, St. John's Wort, and Valerian.
Culinary Uses:
Young shoots are eaten raw or cooked like asparagus.
Economic Uses:
Hops are the main flavoring in beers. Distilled oil and extracts are also used in food flavorings and soft drinks; also in perfumes of the chypre and fougère types. Dried hops are added to sleep pillows. Dried flowering stems ("Bines") are used for decoration.
A Little Lore:
Sleep pillows made with hops have been used as an insomnia treatment for centuries, since the aroma can calm the mind and soothe nervous tension.
Methods of Administration:
  • Tea:
    To alleviate insomnia, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp. of hops. Steep 10-15 min. and strain. Drink 1 cup of tea just before going to bed. To stimulate the appetite, drink 1 cup of tea before each meal.

  • Bath Additive:
    To ease anxiety, tension and sore muscles, pour ½: gal. of boiling water over 1 cup each of hops, rosemary and lemon balm. Steep for 20 min., strain and add liquid to warm bathwater.

  • Tincture:
    To relieve backaches, headaches, pain and menstrual cramps, take 20-30 drops of tincture in some water or juice up to 4 times daily.

  • Commercial Preparations:
    Numerous commercial teas that ease anxiety and insomnia contain hops, which are often combined with lemon balm, valerian, skullcap, catnip or chamomile.

  • Medicinal Pillow:
    For sleep disorders, fill a cotton pouch with 2 tbsp. each of lavender, hops and chamomile. Stitch it closed and put it inside your pillow near your face.

Skin irritant and allergen.
The Complete Guide to Natural Healing Copyright © 1999 International Masters Publishers AB™ Group 1 card 69.
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Bown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pp. 237-238
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp.271-272