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General Information

Hops, a common flavouring agent used in beer, is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. It has been used in herbal medicine for many medical conditions. The strobile (the flowering part of the hops plant that looks like a pine cone) has been used for its medicinal effects.

Common Name(s)
Scientific Name(s)
Humulus lupulus L.(Cannabaceae)
How is this product usually used?

Hops is taken by mouth and can be prepared as an infusioninfusionthe process of steeping or soaking plant material in hot or cold water to isolate its active ingredient (similar to a tea), a fluid extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredient (i.e., soaked in alcohol or water to pull the active ingredients out of the dried leaves), or a tincturetincturea desired active ingredient that is extracted from alcoholic solution (similar to an alcohol extract).

The usual dose for people 12 years and older ranges from 0.5 g to 6 g of dried strobile per day, usually taken before bedtime.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Hops has been traditionally used in herbal medicine to help with:

  • digestion (and to increase appetite)
  • nervousness
  • sleeplessness

Hops has been shown to improve sleep when used in a combination product with valerian before bed. However, more evidence is needed to confirm this and other benefits of hops.

Hops has also been used to treat asthma, circulatory problems, coronary heart disease, to improve menopausal symptoms and to prevent heart diseases. However, there is conflicting scientific evidence on the effectiveness of hops in these uses and additional studies are required to confirm its benefits.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Although hops appears generally safe for most people when taken in the recommended daily amount, it can cause side effects such as drowsiness, sedation and reduced alertness. Be careful if you are driving, operating heavy machinery, or doing any other activities that require alertness after taking hops.

The hops plant contains pollen, which may cause allergic reactions such as skin irritation, asthma, hay fever, and lung sensitivities. Stop using hops immediately and see a doctor if you have an allergic reaction.

Hops should be used with caution if you have the following conditions:

  • high or low blood sugar
  • bleeding disorders
  • depression or other related conditions such as bipolar disorder
  • pregnancy or breast-feeding

Hops should not be taken with other sedativesedativean agent that induces sleep, relaxes, and reduces tension agents (i.e., agents that can slow brain function) because it may increase the chance of side effects. This includes prescription medications (e.g., sedatives, anesthetics) and natural products or supplements with sedative effects.

Other medications that may interact with hops include:

  • alcohol
  • central nervous system (CNS) depressant
  • hormonal agents (e.g., tamoxifen, hormone replacement therapy)
  • agents metabolized by the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme system

Some examples of supplements that should not be used while taking hops include:

  • 5-HTP
  • calamus
  • California poppy
  • catnip
  • Jamaican dogwood
  • kava
  • St. John’s wort
  • skullcap
  • yerba mansa

Do not use alcohol while taking hops. Since hops may cause CNS depressant effects when used with anesthetics, stop using hops at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Do not use hops if you are allergic to it or to any plants from the Cannabaceae family (e.g. peanuts, chestnuts, bananas).

If sleeplessness continues for 3 or more weeks, contact a health care provider.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

  1. Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Hops. . Accessed April 10 2017.
  2. Natural Database. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Hops. [updated 2011 September 14; cited 2011 September 15]. Available from:
  3. Natural Standard – the Authority on Integrative Medicine. Hops. (Accessed July 1, 2014)

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.