Hop, Hops, Humulus lupulus, Uses of Hop, Herb, Herbal Remedy

Humulus lupulus Cannabaceae

Growing at altitudes if up to 1500m in the hedgerows and forests if Europe, the hop is a climbing perennial. The tough, twisting stem bears heart-shaped leaves, divided into sharply indented lobes. Flowers if different sexes grow on separate plants. It is the female flowers that produce the decorative cone-like {hops' that have been used since ancient times in medicines and in brewing.

Parts used

Female flowers (cones)

The female flowers, or cones, are picked when they are yellowish green in colour in autumn.

Once dried, the cones have an aromatic, bitter taste. They are mainly used in brewing, but are also made into infusions, powders and extracts for medicinal use.In balneotherapy (therapeutic use of baths), they are employed for their calming properties.


The aromatic taste of the plant is due to an essential oil composed of mono and sesquiterpenoid hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds. The compounds that cause its bitter taste include humulone and lupulone. Oestrogenic substances are also present.


  • Two of the bitters found in hops, humulone and lupulone, may have toxic side effects.
  • Hops are not recommended for people who have a tendency to suffer from depression.
  • Hops can cause contractions of the uterus, and are therefore not recommended during pregnancy.
  • Women who are breastfeeding are advised to take only small amounts of any hop preparation.
  • Some people have an adverse allergic reaction to preparations that contain hops.


For internal use

TO TREAT insomnia
INFUSION Put 10g of hop cones into 1 litre of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes. Drink 1 cup, just before going to bed.

TINCTURE, LIQUID EXTRACT Take 20 drops in water, three times a day.

For external use

TO TREAT nervous problems INFUSION Prepare as above and add 1 litre to a warm bath. Soak for 20 minutes.


Medicinal uses

The sedative and sleep inducing properties of the hop, particularly of the essential oil and its oxygenated compounds, have been confirmed by various studies. Indeed, clinical trials in Germany showed a preparation of hops and valerianto be as effective as benzodiazepines in remedying sleep disorders. This combination was also shown to be effective as a treatment for nervous problems in adults and children.

The bitter compounds are known to help the digestive system to work more efficiently, and research has also revealed that the humulone and lupulone bitters can destroy bacteria and are antispasmodic.

The hop, along with several other plants that contain compounds with similar properties to the female hormone oestrogen, are beingstudied for their potential use in treating problems relating to the menstrual cycle and menopause.


Cuttings taken in autumn can be planted out in spring in rich, well-drained soil, in sun or light shade. Or buy ready-grown young plants.


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