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The hop can be found growing naturally in Europe, Asia, and North America. Hops are the cone-like, fruiting bodies of the plant and are most frequently harvested from cultivated female plants. Hops are also used in beer and other beverages.

Hops offer a variety of health benefits. It is believed that hops may be useful when used for insomnia, anxiety, restlessness and related conditions. It is still used for sedation, often in combination with other sleep-promoting herbals such as valerian, but little scientific evidence supports the use of hops medicinally.

In a few small laboratory studies, chemicals in hops have shown to have some anti-infective activity. Hops may also have anti-cancer properties. In several small studies of laboratory cultures and animals, hops prevented different cancer types from starting, growing, or spreading. Perhaps more significant, a chemical derived from hops has caused laboratory cultures of leukaemia cells to disintegrate. Whether any of these effects may apply to humans has yet to be determined.

Dosage and Administration

Hops are available as capsules, liquid extracts, tea leaves and other dosage forms. Directions for use vary considerably. If you decide to take hops then follow the instructions on the manufacturer's label. The standard dose is 0.5 g (about 1 heaped teaspoonful) taken 1 to 3 times daily.

If you are taking sedative drugs, do not take hops except under a doctor's supervision.

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