Hops have been known for
their calming abilities for centuries. This is thought
to be partly due to the
xanthohumol it contains, which induces mental and physical wellbeing, and
enables sound and healthful sleep*.
Menopause, also known as the second puberty, is an important stage
of women’s life associated with various complaints and distresses. Vasomotor
symptoms (VMS), such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and
fatigue, are the most common menopause symptoms affecting about 50% to 80% of
middle-aged women. Although VMS generally subside after five-seven years, some
women have to deal with these symptoms for much longer. Along with
psychological and physical effects, menopause can also cause VMS and these
symptoms can affect the quality of life. Obviously, these symptoms, resulting
from oestrogen deficiency during menopause, can exert negative effects on
women’s health and quality of life and thus require to be managed through
approaches such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, according to the
Women’s Health Initiative and other clinical trials, HRT can increase the risk
of various health issues in postmenopausal women. Oestrogen deficiency is
associated with complaints that may increase the risks for both illness and
early death, including increased cognitive changes and osteoporosis. For this
reason HRT for menopausal women seems the most appropriate answer. However, other
health conditions may result during its use.
During the past decade, growing attention has been paid to
the use of herbal medicines for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Many
herbal treatments for menopausal symptoms contain hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and
its components such as 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN; a potent phytoestrogen), 6-PN
and isoxanthohumol (two well-known flavanones), and xanthohumol (a prenylated
chalcone). The high oestrogenic potency of 8-PN has the ability to interact
with oestrogen receptors. For this reason it must be avoided by anyone with an
oestrogen receptor breast cancer. On the other hand 6-PN showed a very weak
estrogenic activity as isoxanthoumol did, while xanthohumol is inactive.
Hops containing terpenoid, flavonoid glycoside and catechin
are widely used to treat tension, headache, sleep disorders (through
impact on the central nervous system), activating the stomach and appetite.
Other beneficial effects of this plant are for reducing joint pain, anxiety and
nervousness, thus reducing and effect on kidney’s. Despite its confirmed
benefits, the mechanisms through which hops relieves menopausal symptoms are
not clearly understood. Considering possible negative effects of HRT,
prenylated flavonoids extracted from hops can serve as a useful alternative
treatment for the alleviation of sleep problems during the menopause.
*EFSA Article 13.1 botanicals
on hold list.