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Hops is believed to be nontoxic. However, as with all herbs, some people are allergic to it. Interestingly, some species of dogs, greyhounds in particular, appear to be sensitive to hops with reports of deaths occurring. 1 The mechanism of this toxicity is not yet known. Those taken with the popular hobby of brewing beer at home are advised to keep pets away from the relatively large quantity of hops used in this process.
As noted above, hops has estrogen-like effects. Like estrogen itself, hops might stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. 2 On this basis, women who have had breast cancer, or who are at high risk for it, should probably avoid hops until more is known. (Beer does not appear to contain enough of the active phytoestrogen in hops, 8-prenyl naringenin, to matter). Children should also probably abstain from hops to avoid producing unwanted estrogen-like effects. Safety in pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
One animal study suggests that hops might increase the effect of sedative drugs, 3 so do not take hops with other medications for insomnia or anxiety except under a physician's supervision.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking sedative drugs , do not take hops except under a physician's supervision.
- Duncan KL, Hare WR, Buck WB. Malignant hyperthermia-like reaction secondary to ingestion of hops in five dogs. J Am Vet MedAssoc. 1997;210:51-54.
- Rong H, Boterberg T, Maubach J, Stove C, Depypere H, Van Slambrouck S, Serreyn R, De Keukeleire D, Mareel M, Bracke M. 8-Prenylnaringenin, the phytoestrogen in hops and beer, upregulates the function of the E-cadherin/catenin complex in human mammary carcinoma cells. Eur J Cell Biol. 80(9):580-5.
- Lee KM, Jung JS, Song DK, et al. Effects of Humulus lupulus extract on the central nervous system in mice. Planta Med. 1993;59(suppl):A691.