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Hops, botanically Humulus lupulus, is a plant that is best known for its role in beer brewing. In addition to its use in beer, however, it also has a long history in traditional medicine. In this article, we look at the discovery of hops, its many uses, dosages, therapeutic properties, possible side effects and much more.

Hops: discovery and historical use

The use of hops in beer has been documented since the 9th century, but there is evidence that the plant was used medicinally even earlier. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used in Europe, both in folk medicine and in monastic medicine. Even then it was used for sleep disorders, digestive complaints and as a sedative.

Methods of administration and dosage

Hops can be taken in various ways, including as a tea, tincture, extract or capsule. The dosage of hops depends on the form and the intended use:

  • Tea: Pour a cup of hot water over 1-2 teaspoons of dried hop flowers. Leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
  • Tincture: A few drops as indicated on the product.
  • Extracts and capsules: According to manufacturer’s instructions.

Hops: Medicinal use and effect on the body

Hops are used for a range of complaints, including

  • Sleep disorders: It has a calming effect and can help to improve sleep.
  • Digestive disorders: The bitter substances it contains can stimulate digestion.
  • Anxiety: Its calming properties can be helpful for anxiety.

It contains substances such as xanthohumol and humulone, which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These ingredients support the body in coping with various ailments and promote general well-being.

Recommended intake and contraindications

Although hops are safe for most people, there are certain groups of people for whom the use of hops is not recommended:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Due to hormonal effects.
  • People with severe depression: The sedative effect can increase depressive symptoms.

Hops: Additional medicinal plants and dietary supplements

The following medicinal plants and dietary supplements can also be taken to support the effect of hops:

Foods containing hops

Hops are mainly found in beer, although the hop content in commercially available beers is often low. Specialty beers or craft beers may contain higher concentrations.

Possible adverse effects and overdose

Side effects of hops are rare, but can lead to stomach complaints, allergic reactions or headaches. An overdose can lead to drowsiness and excessive sedation. In extreme cases, this can lead to an impairment of daily activities.

Hops in naturopathy

In naturopathy, hops are often used in combination with other herbs to make the most of their calming and healing properties. Traditional forms of application such as baths, poultices or herbal pillows are popular ways to benefit from the advantages of hops without having to ingest them.

Integration into everyday life

For those who want to integrate hops into their daily health routine, there are various approaches:

  • Hop tea in the evening: a cup of hop tea before bedtime can help calm the nervous system and promote a peaceful night’s sleep.
  • Hop capsules as a dietary supplement: For a controlled dosage and easy intake, hop capsules, especially in combination with other calming herbs, can be a practical solution.

However, they should always be taken in moderation and tailored to personal needs. It is advisable to consult a health expert before starting a new dietary supplement.

Cultural and culinary uses

Apart from its medicinal properties, hops are also a culturally important herb. In many cultures, it is not only used to make beer, but also in the kitchen to give certain dishes a slightly bitter note. Even if it is not ubiquitous in everyday cooking, it still has its place in special culinary circles.

Hops: future research and potential

Science continues to explore the full potential of hops in medicine. Current studies are investigating its effect on hormone balance, possible anti-cancer properties and its use as an antioxidant. In the future, this research could lead to the development of new therapies based on the active ingredients contained in it.

Risk management and safety

It is important to emphasize that hops, like all medicinal plants, should be used with caution and under medical supervision. Possible interactions and contraindications must be taken into account, especially for people with certain pre-existing conditions or who regularly take medication. The quality of the hops used also plays an important role, as not all products have the same active ingredient content.


Hops are more than just a basic ingredient for beer, they are a versatile medicinal plant with a rich history in traditional medicine. Whether as a sedative, to aid digestion or as a sleep aid, in the right dosage and form of use it can help to improve quality of life. However, it should always be used with caution and in consideration of the individual’s state of health.

It is an example of how a plant can be valuable in both folk medicine and modern therapy. Its many uses, from improving sleep to aiding digestion, make it a valuable addition to natural health care. By understanding and respecting its history and properties, we can use it safely and effectively to promote our health naturally.

Published on: 22. April 2024


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