Scientific Name/Common Name: Humulus lupulus / Hops
Part(s) Used: Strobiles
Constituents/Active Ingredients: 5-30% bitter substances including acylphloro-glucides, humulones, lupulones; essential oil containing mono- and sesquiterpenes (myrcene, linalool, farnesene, caryophyllene); tannins; flavonoids including kaempferol and quercetin; xanthohumol and other chalcones. Traces of phenol-carboxylic acids (ferulic and chlorogenic acids). Phytoestrogen flavonoids include: 8-prenylnaringenin, and structurally related hop flavonoids. At the base of the hop scales are two hard nuts covered in aromatic, yellow glands or grains called lupulin. Lupulin can also be found in the scales but to a lesser degree. To extract lupulin from hops, the strobiles are rubbed and the grains sifted.
Overview: The female flowers of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus, have long been used as a preservative and flavoring ingredient in beer. The cultivation of hops dates back to at least 860 A.D., based on written records. The therapeutic use of hops for treating anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness is first noted in Europe in the 9th century. It was introduced in England in the sixteenth century but was soon banned by King Henry VIII whose public believed it spoiled the taste of drinks, caused melancholy, and endangered the people. Young hops shoots can be eaten but it is the strobiles (oval-shaped, semi-transparent scales otherwise known as hops or hop cones) and grains that are used in medicinal teas and manufacturing beer. Hops are primarily used as a sedative and relaxant. Sleeping on a pillow filled with hops is believed to help insomnia. Hops have traditionally been used for insomnia, as a bitter to stimulate the appetite, increase the flow of digestive juices, relieve indigestion, and treat ulcers, skin abrasions, and bladder inflammation.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve nervousness (sedative and/or calmative, as a sleep aid (hypnotic), and as an aromatic bitter to aid digestion and to increase appetite (stomachic).
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.