The People's Perspective on Medicine

Doctor Supports Sugar for Hiccups

Q. I have seen some of your articles on curing hiccups and noted my favorite remedy was not mentioned. Just swallow a teaspoon of granulated sugar dry. I learned in med school that this works by stimulating the vagus nerve through reflex irritation of the palate.

A. We wrote about this remedy in our first book, The People’s Pharmacy, in 1976. It was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine (Dec. 23, 1971), and we have been recommending it ever since. It is a simple approach that is usually effective.

When this remedy fails, there are many others. We discuss quite a range in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies, and others are described at www.peoplespharmacy.com.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I just tried the sugar and my hiccups seem to be gone. WOW

don’t need it. I have a remedy for hiccups that works for me every time, and doesn’t require any supplies.
I take a deep, full breath, then exhale slowly until I can’t exhale any more, so that my diaphragm is compressed, then I hold that position for as long as I can, until I have to take a breath. It’s not pretty, and my face is pink when I’m done, but it works every time.
I’ve had limited success explaining the procedure to others, because they don’t exhale completely enough, or compress their diaphragms for long enough, but if I show them how i do it, they usually get it. And they’re usually amazed at how simple it is.

My mother taught me to use sugar for hiccups when I was a child (I’m a senior citizen now); 1/2 a tsp is enough for me. I just let it sit on my tongue and the movement of trying to swallow it alters the hiccup rhythm and makes them stop.

What always works for me: Drinking a glass of fluid with ears and nose closed tight. I don’t stop in the middle, but drink straight through.
Easier with help.
If doing by myself, I hold ears with thumbs, nose with index fingers, paper/plastic cup with outer fingers, and a half glass is usually enough.

A glass of water, a straw and two fingers: drink the water through the straw while plugging your ears. Never fails for me. Plus it’s sugar-free!

Yes, I have been using this remedy for years as well, except I use any brand of sugar substitute that is available. Just a small amount on the tongue – and the hiccups are gone.

My grandmother used a sugar remedy, too. Hers was a spoon of sugar saturated with white vinegar. It makes you shudder to swallow it, but it works!

I have used this remedy since the ’70s also. I has always been effective in relieving my hiccups. I usually follow it with a little bit of water.

Hiccoughs are acid reflux, aren’t they? Or a form of it. So what works for one may work for the other. Anyway it feels like hiccoughs are liquid or food, coming back up and your body trying to stop it.

This always works for me, but you don’t need a teaspoon of it. Just a good-sized pinch of sugar — let it melt on your tongue — and the hiccups are gone. I always keep a white sugar packet in the glove box of my car for this purpose.

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