If you’ve heard of hops, you probably know they’re an ingredient used while brewing beer. They’re acidic and give the beer you drink its flavor.
But if you’ve never heard of them and are wondering what they are, hops are the dried flowers of a plant called Humulus lupulus. Besides giving beer its flavor, hops also have great medicinal value. They’re antibacterial and have recently also been found to help women suffering from menopause and breast cancer.
How To Identify If You’re Going Through Menopause
Menopause is often accompanied by a number of painful symptoms, most of which are related to decreased production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. How each woman’s body reacts to the decrease in the levels of these hormones can vary, resulting in varying symptoms. If you’re over 45 and are experiencing these symptoms, chances are you’re going through menopause.1
- Hot Flashes: This is a symptom most menopausal women experience. You feel heat either in your upper body or entire body, sometimes leaving you sweaty or flushed.
- Infrequent Periods: You don’t get your period often and, when you do, you may bleed heavier or lighter and for shorter or longer than usual.
- Dry Vagina: Lower levels of progesterone and estrogen can make your vagina dry; this may also lead to discomfort while having sex. You may also experience itching and burning.
- Trouble While Urinating: Your vaginal and urethral tissues lose their elasticity during menopause, making urination painful. You may also feel like urinating when your bladder isn’t even full. Urinary tract infections are also a common occurrence in menopausal women.
- Low Sex Drive: Low estrogen levels may make you feel uninterested in sex.
- Mood Swings: Hormonal changes during menopause make you moody, resulting in irritability and, sometimes, depression.
- Insomnia: You might have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during menopause.
How Hops Helps When You Have Menopause
Women who go through menopause often resort to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. Vasomotor symptoms are those related to the expansion and contraction of blood vessels; estrogen is said to play a major role in this. HRT has been found to increase the risk of breast cancer and endometrial cancer. Not just that, it has also been linked to heart disease.
However, in the recent past, women have been switching to natural alternatives like hops to reduce the harmful effects of HRT. Hops are rich in phytoestrogens – plant sources of estrogen. This makes them a suitable choice for hormonal imbalance resulting from menopause.
A study to prove the benefits of hops for menopausal women was conducted on 67 menopausal women for 3 months. These women were either given a placebo or a hops compound called 8-prenylnaringenin – a phytoestrogen. After a period of 6 and 12 weeks, the women who took the hops extract reported a noticeable reduction in the vasomotor symptoms experienced.2 This study was followed up by further research, which confirmed the findings, making hops a great natural alternative to HRT.
How To Identify If You Have Breast Cancer
It’s often hard to detect breast cancer in the early stages. Although many women often suspect breast pain to be a sign of breast cancer, this is rarely the case.3
- Lumps In Breasts: Most often, when women notice a lump in their breast they didn’t have earlier, they suspect it to be breast cancer. However, more than 90 percent of any lumps you might get are noncancerous. A hard lump with irregular edges is likely to be cancerous.
- Change In Breast Shape/Size: If you notice that one or both your breasts have changed in size or shape, this could be a sign of breast cancer.
- Discharge From Nipples: A bloody or extremely clear discharge from one or both nipples could mean breast cancer.
- Nipple Rashes: If you have any swelling, itching, or rash on your nipple, you might consider consulting your doctor to rule out the possibility of breast cancer.
How Hops Helps When You Have Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is more likely in women whose estrogen and progesterone levels keep changing, which is prevalent in menopausal women. In the U.S., breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women.
Women are often given hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to relieve menopause symptoms. But research suggests that long-term use of HRT could lead to breast cancer.
Because hops compounds worked well as a natural method for easing menopause symptoms, researchers believed it could also work well for preventing breast cancer. They tested the effectiveness of a hops compound by applying it on two different breast cell lines. The compound, which is called 6-prenylnaringenin, was found to activate a pathway in the mammary cells that prevent the development of cancerous cells, making it possibly effective against breast cancer.4
However, more research is required to confirm the extent of effectiveness of hops compounds against breast cancer.
That said, hops are becoming increasingly popular as a natural alternative for both menopause and breast cancer because of minimal to no side effects. So, women are feeling encouraged to opt for them instead of other medications.
|↑1||Menopause – Symptoms. NHS Choices.|
|↑2||Heyerick, Arne, Stefaan Vervarcke, Herman Depypere, Marc Bracke, and Denis De Keukeleire. “A first prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the use of a standardized hop extract to alleviate menopausal discomforts.” Maturitas 54, no. 2 (2006): 164-175.|
|↑3||Breast cancer (female) – Symptoms. NHS Choices.|
|↑4||HOPS EXTRACT STUDIED TO PREVENT BREAST CANCER. University of Illinois Cancer Center.|