hops helps menopause, depression, anxiety, stress safely without drug interactions

Hops is best known, not as a medicinal herb, but as an ingredient in beer. Turns out it’s valuable for both.

Hops does not usually make the long list of herbs that help women navigate their way through the myriad troubles of menopause. But perhaps it should.

A little discussed study found that hops can be of huge help for both the physical and psychological trials of menopause. The study was double-blind, and it lasted 90 days. The 120 women in the study were all suffering from hot flashes. They were given either a placebo or 500mg of hops.

Why hops? Because hops contains prenylcaringenin, and prenylcaringenin is a powerful phytoestrogen. And the gentle phytoestrogens must be pretty powerful because hot flashes dropped by 94.5% in the hops group while they moved by an almost imperceptible .8% in the placebo group. On the Greene Menopausal Scale, the women on hops had significantly lower total symptom scores: there was a 90% decrease in the hops group versus only a 3.6% drop in the placebo group. The women had significantly better scores for physical symptoms, hot flashes and loss of interest in sex.

But what about the psychological symptoms? On the Greene Menopausal Scale, there scores for anxiety and depression were also significantly better. As an important bonus, the hops was very safe, and there were  no adverse events, and important consideration when considering menopause treatments (Complement Ther Clin Pract 2016;23:130-5).

But, menopausal women are not the only people whose depression and anxiety can be helped by hops. It turns out its powers are wider.

A small study of 36 students over the age of 18 who all suffered from at least mild depression, anxiety and stress were given either a placebo or 400mg a day of hops dry extract for 4 weeks. Anxiety, depression and stress all improved significantly more in the hops group. As in the menopause study, hops was safe and caused no side effects (Hormones 2017;16(2):171-180).

Despite the safety of hops in both of these studies, there have been suggestions that hops could inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes that metabolize drugs, raising the question of drug interactions.

But a new study has put those concerns to rest. The study gave 16 perimenopausal or menopausal women a hops extract twice a day for two weeks and measured its effect on several P450 substrates. The drugs included caffeine, the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam (Xanax), the cough suppressant dextromethorphan, and the diabetes drug tolbutamide. There was no inhibition of the enzymes and, according to FDA guidelines, no clinically relevant interactions with the P450 substrates (J Agric Food Chem 2020;68(18):5212–5220).

Taken together, these three studies suggest that hops may be a safe and important new herb to consider for menopause, depression, anxiety and stress.


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For much more on preventing and treating menopause, depression and anxiety, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

For comprehensive help with menopause, depression, anxiety and stress, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven now. Linda’s clinic is now open for virtual appointments.

 

The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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