Common name: Hops
Other names: Hop
Latin name: Humulus lupulus
Affinities: Nervous system, digestive system
Actions: Sedative, hypnotic, antiseptic, astringent, digestive bitter, nervine
Specific indications: Poor sleep, frequent urination, appetite excessive or lacking
Diseases: Insomnia(1), anxiety(2), mucous colitis(3), headaches(3), overactive bladder(3)
Parts used: Strobiles
Energetics: Cooling, drying
Characteristics: Hops is well known as the bitter aromatic ingredient in beer (Castleman, 2001). The word ‘hop’ is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term hoppan, meaning, ‘to climb’, this refers to the vine growing or climbing upwards.
History: The hops herb has ancient healing history, as Roman and Greek physicians recommended this herb as a treatment for intestinal ailments, and as a digestive aid (Castleman, 2001). Chinese physicians also reportedly have used hops as a digestive aid for centuries. Hops became popular due to it being grown as a cash crop for making beer. However, hop farmers in the 17th century noticed the workers that farmed the herb fatigued easily and the women got their periods early. Thus, the herb gained a reputation as a sedative and menstruation promoter.
Current applications: In his text, Holistic herbal, David Hoffman mentions hops has a relaxing effect on the central nervous system and is used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and where there is tension related to headaches and possibly indigestion (Hoffman, 1988). It is best not used in cases of depression, but it may be of use in treating mucous colitis. Matthew Wood, in The Earthwise Herbal, Volume I: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants, points out hops acts to normalise secretions of the stomach (Wood, 2011). He also mentions it may help frequent urination in males (overactive bladder).
Hops is one of the lesser herbs for insomnia, and I prefer valerian, skullcap, lemon balm, and passion flower.
Science: Valerian and hops is effective for treating insomnia in humans in combination (Koetter et all., 2007; Lindahl et al., 1989).
Safety: Hops are safe in usual doses for the young, old, pregnant or in those breastfeeding.
Dosage: 1-4ml of tincture before bed. Smaller doses may be used to modify the digestion.
Research on humans
Insomnia: A study (n = 43, double blind placebo controlled) tested if valerian or a valerian and hops combination could reduce insomnia in comparison with the placebo (Koetter et al., 2007). Valerian alone was not effective, however, they found valerian and hops was.
Insomnia(II): One study (n = 184, placebo controlled) found a combination of valerian and hops improved sleep in individuals with insomnia, however the effect was not quite significant (Morin et al., 2005).
Castleman, Michael. “The new healing herbs.” Bantam Book, New York (2001): 465-471.
Hoffman, David. Holistic herbal. Element Books, 1988.
Koetter, U., et al. “A randomized, double blind, placebo‐controlled, prospective clinical study to demonstrate clinical efficacy of a fixed valerian hops extract combination (Ze 91019) in patients suffering from non‐organic sleep disorder.” Phytotherapy research 21.9 (2007): 847-851.
Lindahl, Olov, and Lars Lindwall. “Double blind study of a valerian preparation.” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 32.4 (1989): 1065-1066.
Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal, Volume I: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books, 2011.