Most commonly used for the treatment of anxiety or insomnia, hops are also studied for reducing menopausal symptoms, digestion, muscle pain and tightness.
Hops are most well known for contributing it’s bitter properties to the beer brewing process. However, the primary use of hops medicinally has been as a sedative. Hops increase the activity of GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter that acts on our central nervous system. This mode of action makes hops very useful in the treatment of anxiety or insomnia. It is commonly combined with valerian as an agent to treat sleeplessness, and has been shown to be just as effective as diphenhydramine (the ingredient in most OTC sleep aids) for occasional insomnia.
In additional to the CNS, hops also exert a relaxation effect on the musculoskeletal system and may be helpful for muscle pain and inflammation, restless leg syndrome, and delirium tremens.
Hops have also been studied for their estrogenic effects. It may help to reduce many of the symptoms of menopause, especially in women who experience sleeplessness or insomnia during the menopausal years.
The bitter properties of hops make it a great stomachic herb when taken as a tea or tincture. It acts by toning the stomach, increasing gastric juices and improving appetite. That said, it IS a bitter herb, and may not be the most enjoyable herb to add to a tea without some other tasty herbs alongside.
Hops can be find in health dispensaries as a tincture (herbal extract), dried herb, or in tablet or capsule form. Talk to your healthcare provider or naturopathic doctor before adding any new supplements into your treatment plan to ensure the right dose, form, and to prevent any unwanted interactions with other herbs or drugs.
Contraindication: Do not use hops if you experience depression, as the sedative effects may exacerbate symptoms