Scientific Facts

Hops, also known by their scientific name as Humulus lupulus, are the green, cone-shaped flowers of the female hop plant, and have been used in brewing since the 11th century to improve the taste of beer and preserve it. They have medicinal properties and have a long history of use in the alleviation of anxiety, restlessness, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sleep disturbance. Xanthohumol is the principal prenylated flavonoid in hops and this flavonoid possesses potent neuroprotective activity which is mediated, at least in part, by inhibition of inflammatory responses apoptosis and platelet activation, resulting in a reduction of infarct volume and improvement in neurobehavior in animals with cerebral ischemia.[1] Xanthohumol protects your brain cells from the sort of impairments that may lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Hops Health Benefits

Hops have traditionally been used for centuries to flavor and preserve beer. The bitter, aromatic taste of beer is mostly due to the hops substance. Hops are commonly used orally for anxiety, sleep disorders such as the inability to sleep (insomnia) or disturbed sleep because of rotating or nighttime work hours (shift work disorder), restlessness, tension, excitability, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness, irritability, and symptoms of menopause among other uses.[2]
Researches demonstrate that hops exert significant antidepressant effects through their interaction with serotonin and melatonin receptor subtypes, which lead to dampened stress levels and improved relaxation and sleep patterns.[3][4]
The common health benefits of hops include:

  • Reduce depression, anxiety and stress [5]
  • Relieve insomnia and improves sleep quality [6]
  • Are used as anxiolytics and hypnotics [7]
  • Help people with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [8]
  • Relieve menopausal symptoms [9]
  • Help people who have Alzheimer’s disease [10]
  • Improve cognitive function [11][14]
  • Improve relaxation [12]
  • Enhance estrogen levels [13]
  • Helps people fight cancer [15]
  • Improves mood [17]

The flavonoid compound called xanthohumol, which is contained in hops may have antiviral, anti-clotting, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor activity. This dietary supplement has been used by women as a sleep aid and for postmenopausal symptom relief. In addition to its efficacy for menopausal symptoms, hops can also modulate the chemical estrogen carcinogenesis pathway and potentially protect women from breast cancer.[16] Again, a standardized mix of sedative herb Valerian and Hops, called Ze91019, is used as a sleep aid. Moreover, hops have an anti-anxiety effect, for which you actually feel less tense after drinking hoppy beer.


How Hops works

The hop (Humulus lupulus), a plant used for brewing because of its aromatic characteristics, has also traditionally been used as a soothing agent. The main mechanism of action of hops is to increase the activity of the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) through modulation of brain GABA(A) receptors. The sedative effect of hops on the nervous system has been widely reported in research using animal models, as also has the narcotic effect at high concentrations due to the 2-methyl-3- buten-ol component. In addition to its use in people with sleep problems, the sedative action associated with the components of hops has been used to correct temporary sleep onset and sleep interruption disorders in human populations with treatments applying a combination of valerian and hops. Again, the central nervous effects of hops as far as GABAergic neurotransmission is concerned, hops does also affect serotonin (5-HT), a further neurotransmitter involved in nocturnal sleep regulation. Moreover, 5-HT is involved as regards the activation of the hormone melatonin, an endocrine agent that entrains circadian rhythms. There are also effects of hops on the neuronal receptors of adenosine which are extensively involved in the mechanism of sleep. Therefore, beer and its hop component are thought to enhance the CNS’s neuroendocrine response via GABA, adenosine, and the biogenic amines serotonin and melatonin with an effective sedative action that both modulates the sleep/wake rhythm and favors the induction of sleep.


The side effects of hops are rare when used in moderation. Also hops are possibly safe when taken for short-term medicinal uses. As there is not enough reliable information, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid using hops and stay on the safe side. Consult your physician or healthcare provider before using any new supplement. Also there are some chemicals in hops which act like the hormone estrogen. So, people having breast cancer and endometriosis like conditions that are sensitive to hormones should avoid hops. Stop taking hops at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery as it may cause too much sleepiness when combined with anesthesia and other medications during and after surgical procedures.


At this moment, there is no standard dosage of hops. While selecting an appropriate dose of hops for you, keep in mind that it completely depends on several factors such as your age, health, and several other conditions. Ask for help from your physician or healthcare provider to determine an appropriate range of doses for hops for you. A study shows that hops supplement has been used as a mild sedative or sleep aid, with the dried strobile given in doses of 1.5 to 2 g. An extract combination with valerian, called Ze91019, has been studied at a hops dose of 60 mg for insomnia.