Hops: Your Favourite Herbal Sleep Aid

17 October 2021

Native to Britain, Hops is bright green vine, which is best known for adding a bitter taste to beer. It has been used for centuries in beer making, but also for its medicinal uses.

Hops has been used in Europe since the 14th century, with the Vikings using Hops and other herbs to create "Ale." Due to its bitter property, it was used to aid digestion, and increase bile. The young shoots of the plant were used for cleansing the blood, liver, and spleen, while its flowers were used in tonics to provide calming effects.

Hops actions include:

  • Strong Sedative
  • Nervine
  • Hypnotic¬†
  • Analgesic
  • Bitter

Hops is a great herb to use if you need a bit of help getting a restful sleep, reducing anxiety and nervousness, or if you struggle with digestive discomforts as it can help promote appetite and digestion. It can soothe delirium, inflammation, nervousness, and chronic sleeplessness. Hops has also been used to aid sluggish livers, and ease irritable bladders.

Our bodies run on a circadian rythym, which is a clock like function within the brain that regulates all systems of the body, both mental and physical. The internal clock is regulated by environmental cues such as light, which is why it plays such a big role with sleep. If the circadian rhythm is out of sync, sleeping problems may ensue.

Hops has been proven to effectively decrease night activity within the circadian rhythm. The volatile oil; humulene provides its sedative, hypnotic and analgesic actions helping to create a calm physical state for rest. The bitter resins within the plant provide its sedative actions, and it increases the activity on neurotransmitter GABA, which inhibits the central nervous system activity. Hops can also bind itself to serotonin and melatonin receptors, enhancing their activities and enlarging slow wave sleep to assist with getting back to sleep after waking up.

It is best used as an infusion or tincture, caution is recommended due to its strong deceptive and hypnotic actions as it may cause drowsiness. It can also potentate other medications effects such as antidepressants and sleeping medications.

Hops is used in one of our favourite sleep formulas: Somni Support. If you're having trouble sleeping, staying asleep, or feeling rested get in touch to chat with one of naturopaths to see how Hops can benefit your sleep!


Written by herbalist, Sheree Wall