About the author
Sources
Sources

[1] Bolton JL, Dunlap TL, Hajirahimkhan A, et al. The multiple biological targets of hops and bioactive compounds. Chemical research in toxicology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6643004/. Published February 18, 2019. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[2] Franco L, Sánchez C, Bravo R, et al. The sedative effect of non-alcoholic beer in healthy female nurses. PloS one. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3399866/. Published 2012. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[3] Franco L;Sánchez C;Bravo R;Rodriguez A;Barriga C;Juánez JC; The sedative effects of hops (humulus lupulus), a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm. Acta physiologica Hungarica. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22849837/. Published 2012. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[4] S; SSB. Treating primary insomnia - the efficacy of valerian and hops. Australian family physician. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20628685/. Published 2010. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[5] Kyrou I;Christou A;Panagiotakos D;Stefanaki C;Skenderi K;Katsana K;Tsigos C; I. Effects of a hops (humulus lupulus L.) dry extract supplement on self-reported depression, anxiety and stress levels in apparently healthy young adults: A randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, Crossover pilot study. Hormones (Athens, Greece). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28742505/. Published 2017. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[6] Lee YM;Hsieh KH;Lu WJ;Chou HC;Chou DS;Lien LM;Sheu JR;Lin KH; Y-M. Xanthohumol, a prenylated flavonoid from hops (humulus lupulus), prevents platelet activation in human platelets. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22611436/. Published 2012. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[7] Erkkola R, Vervarcke S, Vansteelandt S, Rompotti P, Keukeleire DD, Heyerick A. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover pilot study on the use of a standardised hop extract to alleviate menopausal discomforts. Phytomedicine. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711310000231?via%3Dihub. Published February 18, 2010. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

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Everything You Need to Know About Hops

Everything You Need to Know About Hops

Hops may have made a name for themselves as a key ingredient in beer, but there's much more to this well-established flower. Keep reading to learn how decades of holistic use, combined with recent scientific studies, have unearthed several potential benefits associated with hops.

What are hops?

Most commonly used in brewing beer, hops are the flowering part of the hop plant, favoured for their bitter flavour. However, there's much more than first meets the eye with this sought-after commodity. And it isn't modern science we have to thank for an initial interest in the holistic qualities of hops, but decades of sleepy farmhands.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the influence of hops first came to light when field workers harvesting hops would fall asleep more easily, despite it being no more difficult to harvest than other crops. Of course, without access to sophisticated lab equipment, there was no way they could confirm their suspicions, but the evidence pointed toward hops' resin.

As it turns out, the field workers were pretty close in their estimations. We now know that the sleep-promoting properties they witnessed may be, in part, because of several important flavonoids and terpenes, including xanthohumol, humulene, and lupuline.[1] We'll explain more about these essential compounds shortly, but first, let's quickly cover a few bits of important hop-related information.

Where do hops come from?

The hop plant (Humulus lupulus) is a perennial climbing vine native to the Northern Hemisphere. However, it isn't the plant itself, but the flowers from female plants, that brewers use to make beer—a practice that is said to have started around the 9th century.

After somewhat of a turbulent rise to fame (once proclaimed a "wicked and pernicious weed"), the hop plant has become an important commercial crop throughout Germany, the UK, Poland, the US, and parts of Asia. Brewers even use several varieties of hops to alter the bitterness and aroma of pale lagers, ales, and popular beers.

Health influence of hops

Despite being around for several centuries, research into the proposed therapeutic qualities of hops is less extensive than you might think. Below you'll find a summary of the most prominent studies.

Sleep disorders

Hops' influence on sleep may have started with anecdotal reports, but how does the evidence stack up now that researchers have had a chance to examine the flower under a microscope?

A 2012 study involving 17 female nurses found data to indicate that consuming non-alcoholic beer impacted sleep latency and overall sleep duration.[2] Researchers proposed that hops' key components acted via the GABA system, a network of receptors and neurochemicals linked to the central nervous system.

Similar results were also observed in university students when researchers compared 1, 2, and 11mg capsules of hop extract with a placebo.[3] The 2mg group saw the most favourable results, linking hop extract consumption with a balanced circadian rhythm. This is key for well-being, as a healthy circadian rhythm helps the body combat the effects of various sleep disorders.

Some research also suggests that the sleep-promoting quality of hops is further enhanced when taken alongside valerian root.[4] The evidence is only provisional, mind, with further "randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials" needed to give a definitive answer.

Anxiety and depression

A collaborative study from 2017 examined the impact of hops supplements among healthy adults as part of a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover pilot study.[5] The aim was to understand if hops could impact "depression, anxiety and stress levels in young adults". After ten weeks of observation, researchers noted a decrease in self-reported scores for all three mood disorders, while the placebo group reported a noticeable increase.

Heart health

One of the flavonoids highlighted earlier, xanthohumol, was the focus of a 2012 study on heart health.[6] The study notes that the compound might exhibit "antiplatelet activity", which can help with the build-up of harmful elements inside arteries. Unfortunately, blocked arteries are one of the leading causes of several cardiovascular diseases.

Menopause

Several leading universities collaborated to explore the impact of 8-prenylnaringenin (a flavonoid found in hops) on menopause, and uncovered some interesting results. It turns out the compound is a phytoestrogen, a plant-based compound with a similar chemical structure to estrogen.

Among 36 menopausal women, the control and placebo groups reported similar outcomes after eight weeks.[7] Interestingly, it wasn't until after week sixteen that the group given 8-prenylnaringenin reported better overall scores for relief of menopausal symptoms. The outcome is promising, but points to the need for further studies clarifying the extent of 8-prenylnaringenin's estrogen-mimicking abilities and the long-term impact of hop extracts.

Side effects of hops

First, hops seem to be well-tolerated, with few reported side effects. However, as is the case with any dietary supplement, it's important to discuss the implications with your doctor first. They will be able to offer case-specific advice and help you determine if taking hops could support your wellness goals.

Second, the most documented influence of hops is its sleep-promoting effect, so you must consider when and where you take hops supplements. For example, you shouldn't consume hops if you plan to drive or operate heavy machinery afterward. Similar caution applies to people who are awaiting surgery. Hops may cause sleepiness, impacting anaesthesia and other medications, so it's best to cease use at least two weeks before any scheduled operations.

The holistic properties of hops — bottom line

Hops may have made a name for itself as the main ingredient in beer brewing, but as we can see from the provisional research, it may have far more to offer than just a pleasantly bitter flavour. Even with the potential benefits of hops, it's still important to balance the flower's influence with your own wellness needs. Just remember, you'll want to focus on hops supplements rather than having a few beers before bed if you're looking to capitalise on the holistic benefits.

Ready to explore the soothing influence of hops extract? Why not try Stay Asleep Capsules to encourage an all-natural sleep experience. Or, to learn more about the importance of sleep and how plant-based compounds can help, visit our CBD Encyclopedia.

Author
Luke Sholl

Title/author.

Luke Sholl
With over a decade of experience writing about CBD and cannabinoids, Luke is an established journalist working as the lead writer for Cibdol and other cannabinoid publications. Committed to presenting factual, evidence-based content, his fascination with CBD also extends to fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention.
Luke Sholl

Title/author.

Luke Sholl
With over a decade of experience writing about CBD and cannabinoids, Luke is an established journalist working as the lead writer for Cibdol and other cannabinoid publications. Committed to presenting factual, evidence-based content, his fascination with CBD also extends to fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention.
Sources

[1] Bolton JL, Dunlap TL, Hajirahimkhan A, et al. The multiple biological targets of hops and bioactive compounds. Chemical research in toxicology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6643004/. Published February 18, 2019. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[2] Franco L, Sánchez C, Bravo R, et al. The sedative effect of non-alcoholic beer in healthy female nurses. PloS one. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3399866/. Published 2012. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[3] Franco L;Sánchez C;Bravo R;Rodriguez A;Barriga C;Juánez JC; The sedative effects of hops (humulus lupulus), a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm. Acta physiologica Hungarica. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22849837/. Published 2012. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[4] S; SSB. Treating primary insomnia - the efficacy of valerian and hops. Australian family physician. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20628685/. Published 2010. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[5] Kyrou I;Christou A;Panagiotakos D;Stefanaki C;Skenderi K;Katsana K;Tsigos C; I. Effects of a hops (humulus lupulus L.) dry extract supplement on self-reported depression, anxiety and stress levels in apparently healthy young adults: A randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, Crossover pilot study. Hormones (Athens, Greece). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28742505/. Published 2017. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[6] Lee YM;Hsieh KH;Lu WJ;Chou HC;Chou DS;Lien LM;Sheu JR;Lin KH; Y-M. Xanthohumol, a prenylated flavonoid from hops (humulus lupulus), prevents platelet activation in human platelets. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22611436/. Published 2012. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

[7] Erkkola R, Vervarcke S, Vansteelandt S, Rompotti P, Keukeleire DD, Heyerick A. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover pilot study on the use of a standardised hop extract to alleviate menopausal discomforts. Phytomedicine. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711310000231?via%3Dihub. Published February 18, 2010. Accessed February 21, 2022. [Source]

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