Hops is a medicinal plant that has been valued for its sedative and antispasmodic effect. What are its main applications? What other properties are attributed to it? In this space we detail it.
In ancient times, the Romans used hop flowers to fill their pillows and reduce sleep problems. This use, although lacking evidence, was extended to the present day in popular culture.
In fact, today the flowers of the plant are still used for therapeutic purposes, not only in relation to difficulties with sleeping, but also for problems with nervousness and the digestive system.
Hops health benefits
Hops is a climbing plant native to China, which is also cultivated in many regions of the world. From the same family as cannabis, it features male and female cone-shaped flowers. These are the most used in natural medicine.
The plant is known for being one of the main ingredients in beer; in particular, it is responsible for giving it its characteristic bitter taste, in addition to its aroma. Contrast with the sweetness provided by the malt.
However, it is also known for its content of substances with pharmacological activity. The most prominent include the following:
- Flavonoids, such as quercetin, rutin, or campferol.
- Phenolic acids.
- Bitter principles.
The benefits and properties of hops began to be studied in the middle of the 20th century. Due to its composition, certain properties are attributed to it. Below we detail the most popular.
- Sedative of the central nervous system.
- Hypnotic. This property is only present in essential oil.
- Antispasmodic. It helps to mitigate pain and muscle stiffness situations.
- Eupeptic bitter. Plants that have this property stimulate the taste buds and prepare the body for digestion.
- Estrogenic. This activity was observed in more than one study , and has been corroborated in different tests in vivo.
After knowing the components of the hops and the properties attributed to it, it is not surprising that the plant is recommended under certain conditions. However, it is important to clarify that it is not a substitute for conventional treatments and should only be considered as an adjuvant.
Nervousness and anxiety
The infusions of the plant help calm the nerves in states of anxiety and agitation. The sedative effect of hops was discovered when observing that the gatherers of the plant often presented more drowsiness and fatigue than usual and fell asleep during working hours.
The German Commission (a therapeutic guide to medicinal plants and their pharmacological uses accepted with scientific studies) approves the use of hops for sleep disorders. However, your intake should be supervised by the doctor, especially if sleep problems are persistent.
Lack of appetite
The bitter principles of hops stimulate gastric secretions and help to whet the appetite. They also help improve digestion, especially in large meals or in cases of empacho.
Hops have active ingredients with estrogenic properties . This is why today it is used in many preparations to treat the negative effects of menopause, such as hot flashes, anxiety and insomnia.
Rheumatic pain and neuralgia
In these cases, the positive effect of hops is achieved with an external application. You can do scrubs or plasters of the infusion of the plant, and apply on the areas that present pain. Relief is temporary, so it will be necessary to repeat the treatment.
Hops preparations and presentation
Hops have properties and benefits for some health problems. One of the best ways to take advantage of its benefits is by taking it in dried female flower infusions. However, it is also available in the form of tablets or liquid extracts.
Both can be found in herbalists and specialty stores . It is advisable to ask and follow the administration advice so as not to exceed the recommended doses.
To enhance its sedative effects , and take it in situations of nerves and insomnia, it can be accompanied by other plants with the same properties. For example, it can be combined with valerian root, passionflower or lavender flowers.
Read more: 7 contraindications of ginger
Contraindications and possible drug interactions
Medicinal plants have effects on the body that help improve many situations of discomfort. Despite this, they are not always suitable for everyone.
Hops is not recommended in pregnant women. Having estrogenic properties, it could induce miscarriages. It is also wise to avoid them while breastfeeding, as there are no studies on their safety at these stages.
In fact, for this same reason, its use should be avoided in people with syndromes that are hypoestrogenic or in patients who have or have had hormone-dependent cancer.
As for possible interactions, the plant can increase the sedative effect of barbiturates, benzodiazepines, antihistamines and alcohol.
Among other things, it is not recommended when handling dangerous machinery or driving , since its relaxing effect can cause drowsiness and accidents.
Hops have a long history of medicinal uses to improve health
Hops is indicated in case of insomnia, stress or anxiety, and can be taken alone or accompanied by other related plants. It also appears to be a good supplement to stimulate relief from difficult digestions.
It is even present in some preparations to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, but more scientific evidence is needed in this field. It is recommended to consult the doctor before starting your regular consumption.