Hops extract may ease knee joint pain, help sleep: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Christopher Hopefitch / Getty Images
© Christopher Hopefitch / Getty Images

Related tags Hops Joint health Osteoarthritis Anti-inflammatory healthy aging

Supplementation with a standardized extract from hops may ease knee joint pain for people with osteoarthritis, and reduce pain-associated sleep disruptions, says a new trial.

Data published in the Austin Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism​ indicated that 14 days of supplementation with either one or two grams per day of the standardized hops extract led to significant improvements in WOMAC perceived pain scores, compared to placebo.

“One critical success factor for nutritional supplementation to improve joint health is a fast reduction of perceived pain to motivate the individual to continuously take the supplement,” ​wrote scientists from Increnovo, Ashland, Theo’s, Inc, Tucson, Pharmachem, and Lindenwood University.

“Hops extract intake, especially at the 2-gram dose, showed a fast-acting effect on mean pain relief with significant improvements occurring in two hours when compared to placebo.”

The study used the Perluxan ingredient containing 30% alpha and iso-alpha acids (humulone and cohumulone). The ingredient is produced by Pharmachem Laboratories, and New Jersey-based company funded the study. One of the co-authors of the study is affiliated with Wilmington, Delaware-based Ashland, which markets Perluxan.  

From adding flavor to beer to supporting joint health

The female flower cone of the hops plant (Humulus lupulus​ L.), a climbing vine native to North America, Europe and Asia, is primarily used to add flavor to beer. Numerous cultivators of hops are selectively utilized by brewers to balance the sweetness of malt with bitterness, adding flowery, fruity and herbal aromas.

Dr Ralf Jaeger, Managing Member of Increnovo LLC and lead author on the new paper, told NutraIngredients-USA that hops have numerous traditional therapeutic applications, including the treatment of anxiety and insomnia due its mild sedative and relaxing effects, and is used during menopause for its high phytoestrogen content. For an extensive review of the botany, historical and medicinal uses of hops, please see HerbalGram​ #87​.

“However, it was not until recently that the anti-inflammatory activity of certain hops fractions was discovered. The so-called alpha acids have shown great potential in helping support the body’s natural response to inflammation and pain,” ​he said.

“Proven joint health supplements such as glucosamine provide long-term benefits, including recently discovered gut health benefits, and especially if taken prophylactically,” ​he added. “However, consumer tend to use joint health supplement only when they experience issues, and it takes weeks for users to experience the benefits and to get relief. Too long for some, and they discontinue taking the supplement.

“By combining glucosamine with an hops extract, consumer experience a quick onset of relief and tend to take supplements for a longer period of time, allowing them to be effective in the long run.”

Study details

Thirty-three men and women with an average age of 57 participated in the randomized, double-blind, multi-dose study. Volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Placebo, one gram per day of Perluxan, or two grams per day of Perluxan.

After 14 days of intervention, the data showed that improvements in WOMAC Pain While Walking on a Flat Surface values were recorded just two hours after the first two-gram dose of the hops extract.

WOMAC self-reported pain levels improved in both dose groups, compared to placebo, with improvements noted already after two days of intervention.

The researchers also noted that both hops extract groups reported reductions in pain while lying in bed during the study.

Anti-inflammatory action

Commenting on the potential mechanism(s) of action, the scientists noted that hops extracts have been shown to have anti-inflammatory potential by inhibiting cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme that is well known to be responsible for inflammation and pain.

“In addition, further effectiveness of hops extract supplementation is supported by the limited use of rescue medication in HOPS1G and HOPS2G in comparison to placebo,” ​wrote the scientists.

Importantly, Dr Jaeger and his co-workers reported no clinically meaningful changes in blood or urine markers.

“Considering the small sample size and limited data available, additional, larger randomized, placebo-controlled trials are needed to confirm these results,” ​they concluded.

Source: Austin Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism
2022; 9​(2): 1124, https://austinpublishinggroup.com/nutrition-metabolism/fulltext/ajnm-v9-id1124.pdf​ 
“Effects of Standardized Hops (​Humulus lupulus L.) Extract on Joint Health: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Multiple Dose Study”
Authors: R. Jaeger et al.

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