A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over pilot study was done to examine the efficacy of a hops extract for relief of menopausal symptoms. 36 menopausal women were randomized to take either a placebo or the hops extract for a period of eight weeks and then they were switched to the opposite group for another 8 weeks. Common menopause research reporting forms were used including the Kummperman Index (KI), the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) and a multifactorial Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). These reporting forms were used prior to starting the study, after 8 weeks and 16 weeks.
After 8 weeks, both the hops group and the placebo group had significant improvement in outcome measures compared to the baseline and actually higher average reductions in the placebo group. After 16 weeks however, only the group that was on the hops extract in the second 8 weeks had a reduction in all outcome measures whereas the placebo group in the second 8 weeks had an increase for all outcome measures. Although the overall treatment efficacy of the hops treatment compared with the placebo did not show a significant effect, the time specific uses did indicate significant reductions in the KI and the VAS for the hops group, and a marginal reduction in symptoms for the MRS after 16 weeks.
Commentary: This is the second study on an oral hops extract for menopause symptoms that I am aware of. The German Commission E (the German agency similar to our FDA), has approved hops for mood issues such as anxiety and restlessness, and for sleep disruptions. In the previous randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 67 menopausal women were given either a placebo or a 100 mcg or 250 mcg standardized hops extract for 12 weeks.[i] At 6 weeks, the 100 mcg dose was significantly superior to placebo, but not after 12 weeks. Even so, there was a more rapid decrease in menopause symptoms scored for both doses of hops extract , especially the hot flush score. The higher dose was not any better than the lower dose. Both the current study and this previous study, used a standardized hops extract at 100 mcg 8-prenylnaringenin. The current study used the lower 100 mcg dose.
This hops standardized extract may provide a useful herb for women suffering from common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes/night sweats. I have been using it in my clinical practice for approximately two years, usually along with one or more of the following: Black cohosh, St. John’s wort, Maca extract or a combination botanical of Dong Quai/burdock root/ wild yam root/ licorice root/motherwort. Hops do contain phytoestrogens and this is the likely mechanism of action.
[i] Heyerick A, Vervarcke S, Depypere H, et al. A first prospective, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study on the use of a standardized hop extract to alleviate menopausal discomforts. Maturitas 2006;54:164-175.