Skip to main content

Natural and Alternative Treatment Study Report: Hop Water and Allergies

IMAGE Hops (the fruiting bodies of the hop plant) is most famous as the source of beer's bitter flavor. However, it also has a long history of use in herbal medicine as well. Its most common herbal use today is as a mild sedative, possibly helpful for anxiety and insomnia . In addition, hops has a constituent with strong estrogen-like properties, and for that reason it has been proposed as a treatment for menopausal symptoms. However, neither of these proposed uses is supported by reliable scientific evidence.

In recent years, an entirely novel and rather surprising potential use of hops has come to light: treating hay fever.

For reasons that are not at all clear, a water extract of hops (called, unsurprisingly, “hop water”) may reduce allergic reactions. The first evidence came from an animal study performed in Japan in 2005. Based on these results, as well as a subsequent animal studies, Japanese researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial.

In this study, 39 people were given a daily drink containing either 100 mg of hop water or placebo. All of these study participants were known to have allergies to the Japanese cedar. This plant is a strong allergen—as famous in Japan for causing hay fever symptoms as ragweed is in the US.

The results of this small trial were promising. Over the weeks of the study, use of the hop water extract significantly reduced nasal symptoms as compared to placebo.

Note that this level of evidence has to be classified as “preliminary.” Larger studies (particularly, studies conducted by researchers not connected to any hop water product) will be necessary to establish whether this reported benefit is real.

For more information, see the full articles on hops and on allergic rhinitis .

  • Segawa S, Takata Y, Wakita Y, et al. Clinical effects of a hop water extract on Japanese cedar pollinosis during the pollen season: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem . 2007 Aug 7 [Epub ahead of print].

  • Segawa S, Takata Y, Kaneda H, et al. Effects of a hop water extract on the compound 48/80-stimulated vascular permeability in ICR mice and histamine release from OVA-sensitized BALB/c mice. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem . 2007;71:1577-81.

  • Takubo M, Inoue T, Jiang S, et al. Effects of hop extracts on nasal rubbing and sneezing in BALB/c mice. Biol. Pharm . Bull. 2006;29:689-692.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. TriStar Health does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.