Health benefits of Hops

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Health benefits of Hops

Hops Quick Facts
Name: Hops
Scientific Name: Humulus lupulus
Origin Europe, western Asia and North America
Shapes 1 1/4 -2 inches long, in a rounded, oblong shape with a number of overlapping, yellowish-green bracts, attached to a separate central point containing a small fruit (achene) at the base
Taste Bitter
Health benefits Beneficial for Cancer and Good for Heart Health
Hop (Humulus lupulus), a member of the Cannabaceae family, is an herb that was traditionally used to provide relaxation, sedation and treat insomnia. This perennial climbing vine is native to Europe, western Asia and North America.  Being a temperate European plant, hops is grown in Czech Republic, Poland, England and Germany. It is also found in the United States, South America and Australia. Apart from hops it is also known as Asperge Sauvage, Common Hops, Couleuvrée, Couleuvrée Septentrionale, European Hops, Hop, Hop Strobile, Hopfenzapfen, Houblon, Humulus lupulus, Lupuli Strobulus, Lupulin, Lúpulo, Pi Jiu Hua, Salsepareille Indigène and Vigne du Nord. Hops are actually a female inflorescences of the plant Humulus lupulus L. They are used mostly in beer brewing to add bitterness and flavor. Hops are also used as an herbal medicine for mood disturbance and insomnia and to treat menopausal symptoms.

Plant Description

Hop is a dioecious, rhizomatous, vigorous, twining perennial, herbaceous climbing vine or plant that grows about 7 meters tall. The plant is found growing in woodland Garden Sunny Edge, Dappled Shade, Shady Edge and Hedgerow and normally grows in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils. It also prefers moist, rich soils, but has some tolerance for drought as well. It has stout and perennial root systems. Stem is of a twining nature, reaching a great length, flexible and very tough, angled and prickly, with a tenacious fiber.


Opposite leaves are up to 6 inch long and 4 inch across; smaller leaves are usually oval-cordate in shape, but larger leaves are palmate with 3 lobes (rarely with 5). These leaves have a rough texture and coarse serration along the margins; they are medium green or yellowish green on their upper surfaces, and whitish green below. The long petioles are light green or light tan, stout, and prickly-bristly. At the base of each petiole is a pair of lanceolate stipules.


Flowers are dioecious, i.e. male and female flowers are on separate plants. The male flowers are in loose bunches or panicles, 3 to 5 inches long. The female flowers are in leafy cone-like catkins, called strobiles. When fully developed, the strobiles are about 1 1/4 inch long, oblong in shape and rounded, consisting of a number of overlapping, yellowish-green bracts, attached to a separate axis. Flowering normally takes place from Jul to August.


The fruit of the female plant is called strobiles and resemble small pine cones. When fully ripened the strobiles measure about 1 1/4 -2 inches long, in a rounded, oblong shape with a number of overlapping, yellowish-green bracts, attached to a separate central point containing a small fruit (achene) at the base. Both the bracts and achene contain the bitter principle lupulin, which gives hops its tonic qualities. Strobiles are typically collected in September-October with the seeds dried for use in the manufacture of beer. Flowers emit a pine-like fragrance and are attractive to butterflies.


The five varieties of this species (Humulus lupulus) are:

  • Amarillo Hops: Amarillo hops have a flowery, citrus-like aroma with medium bittering value that is gaining acceptance as a substitute for Cascade due to its hardy nature.
  • Cascade Hops: Very successful and well-established American aroma hop developed by Oregon State University’s breeding program in 1956 from Fuggle and Serebrianker (a Russian variety), but not released for cultivation until 1972. It has a flowery and spicy, citrus-like quality with a slight grapefruit characteristic.
  • Centennial Hops: American aroma-type variety bred in 1974 and released in September 1990 by S.T. Kenny and C.E. Zimmermann, the breeders of this variety. Similar to Cascade and Chinook. Centennial is often referred to as a ‘Super Cascade’, since it has a strong citrus aroma.
  • Chinook Hops: This green bine cultivar was released in May 1985 in Washington State and Idaho from a cross between a Petham Golding and a USDA-selected male (63012M). Slightly spicy and very piney.
  • Citra Hops: Citra Brand hops have fairly high alpha acids and total oil contents with a low percentage of cohumulone content. Citra Brand hops imparts interesting citrus and tropical fruit characters to beer.
  • Crystal Hops: An American triploid variety developed in 1993 from Hallertau, Cascade, Brewer’s Gold and Early Green. It is spicier than Hallertau (cinnamon, black pepper, and nutmeg).
  • CTZ Hops: Columbus hops rank high on the bittering scale, yet is also valued for its oil content which creates a hop that is an interesting dichotomy of sharp and herbal.
  • Fuggle Hops: This variety was noticed growing “wild” in the hop garden of George Stace Moore’s house at Horsmonden in Kent, England in 1861. In 1875 it was introduced by Richard Fuggle who lived in the village of Brenchley and hence it was called Fuggle. The aroma is earthier and less sweet than Kent Goldings.
  • Golding Hops: Flowery tones that have produced some of England’s best bitters.
  • Magnum Hops: A high alpha acid bittering hop with mild flavor and low aromatic characteristics.
  • Mosaic Hops: Mosaic Brand HBC 369 cv is a daughter of the YCR 14 cv hop variety and a Nugget derived male. It has high alpha acids and tropical, blueberry, tangerine, floral, and earthy aromas.
  • Hood Hops: Mt. Hood rhizome is a Hallertauer triploid hybrid with good yield, good vigor. Mt. Hood is a half-sister to Ultra, Liberty & Crystal.
  • Northern Brewer Hop: Grown in Europe and America as a dual-purpose hop, but mainly used for bittering in combination with other hops.
  • Nugget Hops: Floral, resiny aroma and flavor. It is primarily a bittering hop.
  • Perle Hops: German dual-purpose hop. Often used in combination with other hops. Spicy and slightly floral/fruity.
  • Saaz Hops: An aromatic blend of earth and spice with a low bittering value.
  • Simcoe Hops: Simcoe Brand hops boasts several different aromas including passion fruit, pine, earthy, and citrus, and also has strong bittering qualities. It is used extensively in the craft and home brewing industry.
  • Tardif de Bourgogne Hops: French hop, used as an aromatic in continental lagers.
  • Willamette Hops: The king of aroma hops in the U.S. with its modest bittering value and sublime blend of flowers, fruit, earth and spice notes.

Health benefits of Hops

Hops plant consists of a variety of essential oils as well as various minerals and vitamins that give them their therapeutic benefits. Essential oils found in hops are myrcene, caryophyllene, farnesene and humulene. Vitamins found in hops include vitamins C, E and B6. These nutrients have powerful antioxidant properties which can help protect the body from disease, boost the immune system and slow down the body’s aging process. Listed below are few of the health benefits of Hops

1. Beneficial for Cancer

Research concluded that the xanthohumol present in hops is quite beneficial against certain types of cancer. So far, they have found it was effective against colon, ovarian and breast cancer cells. There are also indications that the compound may help prevent the development of prostate cancer. (1)

2. Goof for Heart Health

Xanthohumol found in hops is quite effective on heart health. Several research has discovered that it possessed powerful antiplatelet activity. Researchers concluded that it may have a role to play in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.(2)

3. Good for Menopause

Studies have found that hops have chemicals that act like estrogen. These chemicals help to relieve symptoms of hormonal changes which occur because of menopause.

Research done on 100 post-menopausal women found that a vaginal gel using hops as one of the major ingredients reduced dryness in the vagina. It also helped relieve painful intercourse, burning, itching and vaginal inflammation.(3)

4. Cognitive Health

Recent research has concluded that the compound found in hops may help protect the brain’s cells from oxidative stress. According to the researchers, this type of oxidative stress can lead to degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Another research concluded that xanthohumol may protect the brain from damage and reduce the risk of various brain disorders.(4)

5. For Improved Sleep

Hops have traditionally been used to help with sleep issues and several studies have evaluated its effectiveness as a sleep aid. Several research has found that hops were effective in promoting sleep in combination with valerian herb. The study found that the participants who drank non-alcoholic beer containing hops experienced much improved quality of sleep compared with the control group.(5), (6)

6. Alleviates Cough and Congestion

Inflammation and irritation are responsible for most of the common respiratory disorders. Using aromatherapy with hops essential oil helps reduce inflammation and soothe the irritated parts of your respiratory tract. Thus, it effectively reduces coughing and congestion too.

7. Relieves Anxiety

Due to its sedative abilities, Hops have been traditionally used to ease feelings of anxiety and stress. Studies have also showed that hops are more effective as a sedative when used in combination with valerian.(7), (8)

8. Treats Headache

Hops essential oil helps to ease tension and the symptoms of headache. Soothing and sedative effects help to loosen the muscles of your shoulders and the neck while helping relax the mind and providing relief from mental conditions like paranoia and dementia. Apart from that soothing effect allows you to end your headache woes and helps you start your day with renewed energy!

9. Good for Weight Loss

Flavanoid – xanthohumol extracted from hops helped reduce body weight and fasting glucose levels in obese rats. Researchers also concluded that the results demonstrated the extract may have a beneficial effect on some of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.(9)

10. Reduces Hair Fall and Dandruff

Hop extract can also be directly used to wash your hair. First, rinse the hair with a mild shampoo, then use hop extract on the scalp. It is helpful in the treatment of scalp and dandruff. Essential vitamins and oils present in the hops help to open the tiny pores of the scalp and reduce the hair loss. The oils in this herb help to cure the dead skin on the scalp and remove dandruff, which blocks the pores of the scalp. It is easily available in the market, but can also be used directly from beer, which has high contents of hops.

11. Beneficial for Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are caused by a buildup of calcium in the body. Hop supplements can help reduce your body’s level of calcium and prevent the formation of these painful stones.

12. Provides Relief from Toothaches

Anti-inflammatory property of hops provides relief from a toothache and other oral diseases. It can be used in several different ways to cure many diseases. The benefits of hops are not just limited to its beer making. It is also used as an active ingredient in flavoring yeast, which is further used in different medicines and baking products.

13. Treats Menstrual Cramps

Hops essential oil’s soothing properties and sedative effect help to ease menstrual cramps and pain. The sedative quality helps loosen the muscles and reduces pain. It can help you naturally overcome the discomfort during menstruation!

14. Improves Sexual Performance

Hops essential oil helps men enhance their sexual prowess. Hops essential oil helps extend your performance. It can help you effectively counter the problem of premature ejaculation. As hops essential oil has a soothing effect on the body, it helps desensitize certain vital elements that lead to premature sexual stimulation.

15. Fights Osteoporosis

Hops consist of organic compounds that are thought to help fight osteoporosis and even help keep it from developing in the first place. Research has shown that drinking beer, hop tea or taking a hops supplement can help fight bone loss and even reverse the process. Another benefit for those with osteoporosis is that hops seem to fight inflammation within the body.

Traditional uses and benefits of Hops

  • Hops have a long and proven history of herbal use, where they are used mainly for their soothing, sedative, tonic and calming effect on the body and the mind.
  • Strongly bitter flavor has the ability to strengthen and stimulate the digestion, increasing gastric and other secretions.
  • Female fruiting body is anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, stomachic and tonic.
  • Hops are widely used as a folk remedy to treat a wide range of complaints, including boils, bruises, calculus, cancer, cramps, cough, cystitis, debility, delirium, diarrhea, dyspepsia, fever, fits, hysteria, inflammation, insomnia, jaundice, nerves, neuralgia, rheumatism, and worms.
  • When given to nursing mothers, lupulin found in hairs on the fruits increases the flow of milk.
  • Decoction from the flower is said to remedy swellings and hardness of the uterus.
  • Hop flowers are much used as an infusion or can also be used to stuff pillows where the weight of the head will release the volatile oils.
  • Fruit is also applied externally as a poultice to ulcers, boils, painful swellings etc.
  • It is said to remedy painful tumors.
  • Alcoholic extracts of hops in various dosage forms have been used clinically in treating numerous forms of leprosy, pulmonary tuberculosis, and acute bacterial dysentery, with varying degrees of success in China.
  • Female fruiting body contains humulone and lupulone, these are highly bacteriostatic against gram-positive and acid-fast bacteria.
  • Cataplasm of the leaf is said to remedy cold tumors.
  • It is quite effective for nervousness and insomnia.
  • Tincture is stomachic and is used to improve the appetite and digestion.
  • Pillow of warm Hops will often relieve toothache and earache and allay nervous irritation.
  • An infusion of Hops is much in demand in combination with chamomile flowers or poppy heads as a fomentation for swelling of a painful nature, inflammation, neuralgic and rheumatic pains, bruises, boils and gatherings.
  • It is used to treat ADHD.
  • It is use to enhance appetite.
  • It is used to treat leg ulcers.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Hops

  • Indigestion: Add honey, black horehound. Drink three to four times a day.
  • Dandruff: Boil handful of coarsely ground roots of Hops in a liter of water. Boil until it remains half. Let it cool and strain. Rinse hair with this water after shampooing hair. Wrap it with towel or shower cap and leave it for half an hour. Wash hair with normal water. OR Purchase Hops extract from market. Dilute it with water and rinse hair.
  • Insomnia: Prepare a hop tea. Drink one cup twice a day. OR Take one tbsp in the form of tincture twice a day.
  • Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Prepare tea from hop. Take it once a day. OR Purchase extract of hop from market. Put 2 drops in luke warm water and take it once a day.
  • Anxiety: Have a cup of hop tea at bed time.
  • Insomnia: Take Hops, Valerian and Jamaica dog weed in equal amount. Make a decoction. Have it twice a day.
  • Insomnia: Mix Aniseed, Chamomile, Dill and hops in equal amount. Soak 1 tbsp of this mixture in ½ cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Add some honey in it. Take at night before you sleep.

Culinary Uses

  • Female fruit of hops is used to flavor beer and prevent decay during fermentation from bacterial processes.
  • Young leaves and young shoots can be cooked.
  • Young leaves can be eaten in salads.
  • Fleshy rhizomes are sometimes eaten.
  • Tea is made from the leaves and cones.
  • Dried flowering heads of female plants are used as a flavoring and preservative in beer.
  • Essential oil in the flowering heads is used as a flavoring in cereal beverages and mineral waters.
  • Extracts from the plant, and the oil, are used as flavoring in non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods and puddings.

Other Uses

  • Fine brown dye is obtained from the leaves and flower heads.
  • An essential oil from the female fruiting heads is used in perfumery.
  • Extracts of the plant are used in Europe in skin creams and lotions for their alleged skin-softening properties.
  • Fiber is obtained from the stems, not strong and is used to make a coarse kind of cloth.
  • It is sometimes used for filler material in corrugated paper or board products.
  • Fiber is very durable but it is difficult to separate, the stems need to be soaked beforehand for a whole winter.
  • Paper can also be made from the fiber, it is brown in color.
  • Extract is used in skin creams and lotions.


  • Skin contact with the plant causes dermatitis in sensitive people.
  • Handling of this plant may cause skin rashes (allergies), breathing difficulties and dry cough.
  • Removed hairs from the plant can irritate the eyes.
  • Avoid use in case of depression.
  • Avoid during pregnancy (due to antispasmodic action on uterus).
  • Avoid with breast, uterine and cervical cancers.
  • Hops might cause too much sleepiness when combined with anesthesia and other medications during and after surgical procedures. Stop taking hops at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Alcohol can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Hops might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking large amounts of hops along with alcohol might cause too much sleepiness.
  • It may cause breathing difficulties, facial swelling, and hives.
  • Prolonged use may cause menstrual cycle irregularities.
  • Hops use may also cause minor side effects such as diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting and at some extent seizure.
  • Hop is not to be used by very young children.
  • Combining hops with other sedative herbs such as catnip, St. John’s wort, valerian, or kava kava may result in excessive sedation.






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