URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/856.html


What is it?

Hops is a plant. The dried, flowering part of the plant is used to make medicine.

Hops is used for anxiety, inability to sleep (insomnia) and other sleep disorders, restlessness, tension, excitability, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness, and irritability. It is also used to improve appetite, increase urine flow, start the flow of breast milk, as a bitter tonic, and for indigestion. Other uses include prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, high cholesterol, tuberculosis, bladder infections, intestinal cramps, an intestinal disorder called mucous colitis, nerve pain, and prolonged painful erection of the penis (priapism).

Hops is sometimes applied to the skin for leg ulcers and as an antibacterial agent.

In foods and beverages, the extracts and oil are used as flavor components. Hops are also used in brewing beer.

In manufacturing, the extract is used in skin creams and lotions.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for HOPS are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Body odor. Early research suggests that applying a deodorant that contains hops and a specific zinc salt to the underarm can reduce body odor.
  • Insomnia. Some research suggests that taking a combination of hops extract plus valerian extract at bedtime helps some people fall asleep faster. It appears to take 28 days of treatment to see these benefits. However, a combination of valerian extract and hops extract seems to improve sleep quality similarly to bromazepam (Lexotanil) when taken for only 14 days. Sleep quality does not appear to be improved by taking a combination of hops, soya oil, soya lecithin, and Cannabis sativa (Cyclamax) for one month.
  • Menopausal symptoms. Early research suggests that taking hops extract daily does not improve menopausal symptoms after 8-12 weeks of treatment. However, it might improve the severity of hot flashes after 6 weeks of treatment.
  • Postmenopausal conditions. Some research suggests that applying 1-2 grams of a vaginal gel that contains hops, hyaluronic acid, liposomes, and vitamin E can reduce vaginal dryness, burning, itching, and rash in postmenopausal women.
  • Leg ulcers. Early research suggests that applying a cream containing bladderwrack, English ivy, horse chestnut, gotu kola, butcher’s broom, horsetail, and hops (Idrastin), together with compression therapy, might help decrease pain and inflammation in people with leg ulcers and poor blood circulation in the legs.
  • Tenseness.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Improving appetite.
  • Indigestion.
  • Prostate cancer.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Intestinal cramps.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Pain and swelling (inflammation) of the bladder.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Start the flow of breast milk.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of hops for these uses.

How does it work?

The chemicals in hops seem to have weak estrogen effects.

Are there safety concerns?

Hops are considered LIKELY SAFE when consumed in amounts commonly found in foods. Hops are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for medicinal uses.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking hops if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Depression: Hops may make depression worse. Avoid use.

Hormone sensitive cancers and conditions: Some chemicals in hops act like estrogen. People who have conditions that are sensitive to hormones should avoid hops. Some of these conditions including breast cancer and endometriosis.

Surgery: 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.

Are there interactions with medications?

Be cautious with this combination.
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.
Hops might have some of the same effects as estrogen. Taking hops along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.

Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hops might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking hops along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking hops, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include chlorzoxazone, theophylline, and bufuralol.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hops might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking hops along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking hops, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hops might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking hops along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking hops, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include theophylline, omeprazole, clozapine, progesterone, lansoprazole, flutamide, oxaliplatin, erlotinib, and caffeine.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hops might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking hops along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking hops, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include some calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, nicardipine, verapamil), chemotherapeutic agents (etoposide, paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, vindesine), antifungals (ketoconazole, itraconazole), glucocorticoids, alfentanil (Alfenta), cisapride (Propulsid), fentanyl (Sublimaze), lidocaine (Xylocaine), losartan (Cozaar), fexofenadine (Allegra), midazolam (Versed), and others.
Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Hops might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking hops along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might cause sleepiness
Hops might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking hops along with other herbs and supplements that can also have this effect might cause too much sleepiness. Some of these herbs and supplements include 5-HTP, calamus, California poppy, catnip, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John's wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, and others.

Are there interactions with foods?

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.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of hops depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for hops. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

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, Vigne du Nord.


To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.


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Last reviewed - 07/22/2015