- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: hops
Other Names: Humulus lupulus
Drug Class: Herbals
What is hops, and what is it used for?
Hops is the common name of Humulus lupulus, a perennial vine cultivated for its female flower cones (strobiles) which are used as a bitter flavoring agent in beers. Hops has been traditionally used as an herbal remedy for insomnia, anxiety and mood disorders, digestive issues and many other ailments, although there is very little evidence to support any of these uses. The dried strobiles, extracts and tinctures are used medicinally and hops are also available in many other forms including beverages, tablets, capsules, creams, and gels.
Studies suggest hops may have sedative, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, digestive, diuretic and estrogen-like properties. The pharmacological effects of hops are believed to be from the various bioactive compounds it contains, including lupulin, an aromatic acid, flavonoids such as xanthohumol, bitter resins, phenolic acids, volatile oils and tannins. Some lab studies showed that hops extract promoted the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the brain's main inhibitory neurotransmitter, which may explain its sedative property.
Although the major use of hops is in brewing beer, the various compounds in hops and their properties are still being studied for possible medicinal use. Hops is often combined with other herbs such as valerian, passionflower and chamomile for use as a mild sleeping aid. Suggested uses of hops include:
- Hops contain phytoestrogens, which can act like the human female hormone, estrogen. Avoid taking hops if you have any hormone-sensitive condition including breast cancer and endometriosis.
- Hops may increase the sedative effects of anesthesia. Stop taking hops at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery.
What are the side effects of hops?
Common side effects of hops include:
- Hypersensitivity reactions
- Contact dermatitis
- Respiratory tract issues from inhalation of hops dust
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of hops?
There is insufficient information about what might be an appropriate dosage of hops. Check the manufacturer's label for dosages.
- Dried strobile: 1.5-2 g
- Extract combo with valerian: 60 mg
There is no information on hops overdose in humans. Hops are toxic to dogs and ingestion causes raised temperature, panting, vomiting, agitation, stomach pain, seizures and death. Hops overdose may be treated with symptomatic and supportive care.
What drugs interact with hops?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Hops has no severe or serious interactions with other drugs.
- Hops has moderate interactions with at least 25 other drugs.
- Hops has no mild interactions with other drugs.
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
What else should I know about hops?
- Hops is likely safe if consumed in small quantities as flavoring in food. Hops products are possibly safe for most adults when taken in recommended dosages for short terms.
- Take hops exactly as per label instructions. Natural products are not necessarily safe always and following suggested dosing is important.
- Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal product, including hops, particularly if you have any health conditions or if you are on any regular medication.
- Herbal products often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the hops product you choose.
- Hops is marketed as an herbal supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents. Exercise caution in choosing your product.
- Store hops products safely out of reach of children.
- In case of overdose, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.
Hops has been traditionally used as an herbal remedy for insomnia, anxiety and mood disorders, digestive issues and many other ailments, although there is very little evidence to support any of these uses. Suggested uses of hops include insomnia, sleep disorders, anxiety, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and others. Common side effects of hops include drowsiness, dizziness, hypersensitivity reactions, contact dermatitis, and respiratory tract issues. Avoid hops if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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