Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and health expert. Her work often appears in media such as First For Women, Women’s World and Natural Health.
Arno Kroner, DAOM, LAc, is a board-certified acupuncturist, herbalist and integrative medicine physician, practicing in Santa Monica, California.
Hops are flowers of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus) used for brewing beer. In addition to imparting flavors to malt and Pilsner beer, people also believe that hops are good for health. Many of these are due to compounds found in the plant artichoke-shaped buds, including the flavonoids xanthohumol and 8-prenylnaringenin as well as the essential oils humulene and lupinine.
Alternative practitioners believe that these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, analgesic (pain relief) and even anti-cancer properties. Some of these claims are better supported by research than others.
Hops have been an important ingredient in beer brewing for more than 1,000 years and have been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages. Today, herbalists and supplement manufacturers claim that adding hops to your diet can improve your overall health and even prevent certain diseases.
Early doctors observed that hop pickers were easily fatigued during harvest, and believed that the effect was caused by the sticky resin secreted by the cut plants. In recent years, scientists have confirmed that the humulene and lupinine found in hops have mild sedative effects and may have medical applications.
Some small studies have investigated the effect of hops on the sleep-wake cycle using non-alcoholic beer. In a study published in PLoS One in 2012, female nurses on shifts or night shifts drank non-alcoholic beer for two weeks at dinner. Researchers used a wristband sleep tracker to monitor the subjects’ sleep patterns and found that beer not only helped them fall asleep 8 minutes faster, but also reduced their anxiety levels.
These results are similar to a 2014 study of 30 college students. The three-week study used sleep quality index questionnaires to determine sleep habits. After the first week, the students were asked to drink non-alcoholic beer at dinner for the next 14 days. The authors of the study reported significant improvements in sleep scores and time to fall asleep.
Other research has focused on the use of hops and valerian to treat insomnia. Based on a 2010 review of Australian studies, pairing hops with valerian may help treat insomnia. Of the 16 studies reviewed, 12 found that this combination improved the quality of sleep and reduced the time it takes to fall asleep.
In some cases, this means sleeping an extra two and a half hours a night and waking up at night by 50%. These effects may be particularly beneficial to people working in shifts, and may even prove to be useful for treating mild anxiety.
The combination of hops with valerian and passionflower may be an effective alternative to prescription sleep medicines. A 2013 study compared the sleeping pill Ambien (Zolpidem) with herbal combinations of hops, valerian, and passionflower and found that both were equally effective.
The flavonoid 8-prenylnaringenin found in hops is classified as a phytoestrogens-a plant compound that mimics the estrogenic activity of the female sex hormone. Some people believe that 8-prenylnaringenin can help increase the activity of estrogen in the body and overcome the symptoms of estrogen deficiency (estrogen deficiency).
Since the hot flashes and night sweats that usually accompany menopause are caused by a drop in estrogen, hops may help relieve them.
According to a 2010 study in Finland, menopausal women experienced fewer hot flashes, night sweats and even low libido after taking hop extract for eight weeks compared with women taking placebo.
In addition, this extract does not seem to have some of the side effects of traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT), such as bloating, leg cramps, indigestion, and headaches.
Atherosclerosis, commonly referred to as arteriosclerosis, is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. The compound xanthohumol in hops is believed to have an anti-restenosis effect, which means it can help relax blood vessels and improve blood circulation.
A 2012 Japanese study found that mice fed with hop xanthohumol extract had a significant increase in “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which corresponds to a reduction in the risk of atherosclerosis.
In addition, this increase was observed in high-density lipoprotein rich in apolipoprotein E, a protein essential for fat metabolism and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
According to research by Oregon State University, these same effects may benefit obese people by promoting weight loss, reducing belly fat, lowering blood pressure, and increasing insulin sensitivity.
There is little evidence that hops can directly prevent cancer. However, the compound xanthohumol seems to have anti-cancer effects and may one day lead to the development of new cancer therapies.
According to a review of Chinese studies in 2018, xanthohumol can kill certain types of cancer in test-tube studies, including breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, melanoma, leukemia, and non-small cell lung cancer.
Flavonoids seem to do this in multiple ways. In some cases, xanthohumol is cytotoxic, which means that it can directly “poison” and kill cancer cells (and other surrounding cells). In other cases, it triggers apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death.
Cancer occurs when cells mutate and no longer undergo the natural process of apoptosis, allowing them to reproduce endlessly. If scientists can determine how xanthohumol activates apoptosis in cancer cells, a hop-derived drug that can reverse certain cancers may one day appear.
Hops have also been studied as a potential treatment for depression and other mood disorders. A 2017 study published in the journal Hormones found that daily supplementation of hops can reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
In a placebo-controlled clinical trial, 36 young people with mild depression took 400 milligrams (mg) of McCarlin hops or placebo for 4 weeks. At the end of the study, people who took hops had significantly lower levels of anxiety, stress, and depression compared with the placebo group.
The researchers also measured the level of the stress hormone cortisol throughout the study, but did not find any correlation between the cortisol level and the use of hops.
When taken for health purposes, people believe that hop supplements are safe and have minimal side effects. Some people may feel tired; taking herbal supplements before bed can usually help reduce the effects of this symptom.
Hops can also cause allergic cross-reactions in people allergic to birch pollen (usually with mild rash and congestion).
It is not clear at what dosage hop supplements are beneficial or under what circumstances may be harmful. Hop supplements are usually offered in 300 mg to 500 mg formulas and are considered safe in this range.
Hops should be avoided in certain groups, including depression patients whose symptoms may worsen. People with estrogen-dependent diseases, including endometriosis, gynecomastia (gynecomastia) and certain types of breast cancer, should avoid hops due to their estrogenic activity.
Because of its sedative effect, hop supplements should be stopped two weeks before surgery because they may amplify the anesthetic effect. For the same reason, you should avoid taking hops with alcohol, sleeping pills, or other central nervous system depressants.
Dietary supplements do not need to undergo rigorous testing and research like drugs. For this reason, the quality of supplements may vary from brand to brand. To ensure quality and safety, please only choose supplements from reliable and well-known manufacturers.
Although many vitamin manufacturers voluntarily submit their supplements for quality testing by independent certification agencies (such as the US Pharmacopoeia and consumer laboratories), this practice is not common among herbal supplement manufacturers.
No matter which brand you choose, keep in mind that the safety of supplements for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children has not yet been determined.
Does beer have medicinal value? It is difficult to recommend drinking beer to treat any disease. Although some doctors recommend drinking a glass of red wine a day to reduce the risk of heart disease, there is no data to show that beer has the same benefits.
Can you use fresh hops instead of supplements? As far as hops are concerned, they are very unpalatable and difficult to digest. But when infused with food, they give off a taste that many people find attractive (and, presumably, many flavonoids and essential oils are good for your health).
If you want, you can use them to flavor tea or add bitter citrus flavors to certain foods, such as custard, ice cream, and meat marinades.
To make hop iced tea, add ½ ounce of dry hops to a glass of water and a glass of sugar. Boil these and soak for 10 minutes. After cooling, add 2 liters (½ gallon) of lemonade and ice cubes and serve.
Where can I buy fresh hops? It is difficult to find fresh hops outside the planting area, although more and more home gardeners are now growing them in their backyards. Hops can also be purchased as dried pellets or leaves for home beer brewing.
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Post time: Nov-12-2021