Perhaps best known as an ingredient in beer, Hops have a well-established sedative and tranquillising effect and so make a valuable remedy for sleeplessness and excitability. This is due at least in part to the 2-methylbut-3-en-2-ol which is one of the main constituents of the hop strobile (female flower). This substance, which is present in fresh extract, is not always found in commercial preparations.
Studies in Germany demonstrated that hop preparations reduced the spontaneous locomotor activity, increased the ketamine-induced sleeping time and reduced body temperature, confirming a central sedating effect.
Other pharmacological actions include spasmolytic, antimicrobial and anti-fungal activity. Hops also contains phytoestrogen, 8-prenylnaringenin, that may have a relative binding affinity to oestrogen receptors.
Researchers from King's College, UK, identified a potent phytoestrogen in Hops, 8-prenylnaringenin, which has an activity greater than other established plant estrogens. 8-Prenylnaringenin competed strongly with 17ss-estradiol for binding to both the alpha- and ss-estrogen receptors.
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