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What Is Hops Extract?

by
author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
What Is Hops Extract?
Hops extract should not be used during pregnancy. Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Hops, known botanically as Humulus lupulus, is a plant commonly known for its use in the beer brewing industry. However, hops extracts are also used in herbal medicine. Hops have a history of use in China to treat leprosy and tuberculosis, according to Purdue University. Today, hops extract is marketed as a sleep aid and for reproductive health. As with all herbal medicine, consult your doctor before taking hops extract.

Uses

Historically, hops extract was used in folk medicine as a tonic, sedative and anti-inflammatory agent to reduce swelling. Today, the cosmetic industry uses hops extracts in lotions and creams for its skin-softening properties. The food manufacturing industry uses hops extracts to flavor candy, baked goods and frozen dairy desserts. Hops is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's list of items generally recognized as safe.

Sedative

Though hops extract has several uses, many lack clinical data support. Using hops extract as a sedative is most commonly supported. Hops extract is clinically proved to have sedative capabilities. According to a study published in the September 2006 issue of the journal "Phytomedicine," hops exerts a sedative effect on your central nervous system. It has the capacity to reduce locomotor activity and body temperature and to promote sleep.

Estrogenic Properties

Estrogens are female sex hormones responsible for the menstrual cycle. Phytoestrogens are plant hormones with weak but similar actions as human estrogen. Estrogen levels decrease during menopause, which causes uncomfortable symptoms, such as night sweats and hot flashes. Phytoestrogens are being explored as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because of an increased breast cancer and stroke risk. According to a study published in the July 2005 issue of the journal "Phytomedicine," hops extract has estrogenic properties. Keep in mind that clinical data to prove that plant estrogens are safer than synthetic estrogens are lacking. More research is necessary.

Safety

Hops extract dosages range from 1.5 to 2 g, according to the Drugs website. Use hops extract as directed on the label and only after consulting your doctor. All herbs have the capacity to cause side effects and interact with your medications. Hops extract side effects are not well documented, but that does not mean they do not exist. Some individuals are allergic to hops. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience allergy symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swelling of your lips, tongue and face.

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