The People's Perspective on Medicine

Unusual Remedies for Hiccups

Hiccups often disappear when a home remedy is applied; an astonishing range of remedies will work.

We have been collecting hiccup remedies for 40 years. We thought we had heard of all of them, from swallowing a teaspoon of granulated sugar to breathing into a paper bag. But here are some new ways to stop hiccups that you may not be aware of:

“My cure for hiccups: I got this remedy a long time ago from a very old man in a bar, and he got it from his grandmother.

“You take a 1/4 cup of any liquid in your mouth. Stand up and bend over with your head as close to your knees as possible and drink it down. Bam! The hiccups are gone! I have tried this on many people besides myself and it works. I think the water pushes all the air out and down to the stomach.”

Tim in Fishers, Indiana

Sniffing Peanut Butter as a Hiccup Remedy:

Q. My daughter who is 12 years old has been using your remedy for hiccups. She was taking a spoonful of peanut butter and that successfully stopped her hiccups.

Now she claims she only has to open the jar and the SMELL of peanut butter stops the hiccups! We think that is pretty cool. What do you think?

A. It seems your daughter has successfully associated the smell of peanut butter with the nerve stimulation that stops hiccups. She is very smart. This is a safer way of handling hiccups, since some people choke on a spoonful peanut butter. We have been taken to task for recommending a spoonful of peanut butter because of this potential risk.

Other Surprising Remedies for Hiccups:

Some other remedies have taken us by surprise. One reader offered this:

“Hold a pencil in your mouth like a horse’s bit. With the pencil still in your mouth take a couple of gulps of water and try to swallow. I have tried this many times and it works!”

Currant Jelly for Post-Surgical Hiccups:

Another suggested a home remedy that was used for life-threatening post-surgical hiccups:

“Please take this home remedy seriously, as it could help many people with hiccups. After major surgery my husband almost died from severe hiccups. They were draining all his strength.

“A doctor recommended placing currant jelly under the tongue. Within seconds my husband was free from hiccups. They returned periodically and the jelly never failed to work.”

Acupuncture as a Hiccup Remedy:

A meta-analysis of five randomized controlled trials found that acupuncture may stop post-stroke hiccups quickly (Yue et al, Acupuncture in Medicine, March 2017). Randomized controlled trials of hiccup remedies are rare. These authors called for more and higher-quality studies of this approach.

A Hiccup Remedy That Needs a Helper:

Some hiccup cures require an accomplice, as this one does:

“Here’s a hiccup cure that I’ve used all my life and passed on to my kids: Have someone stand behind you and pull straight up on your ears while you take sips of water. I do this by myself by taking a mouthful of water and swallowing it in small amounts while pulling up on my ears. No kidding, it works every time!”

Vinegar for Hiccups:

Not all remedies are beloved by everyone in the family:

“I wanted to tell you about my hiccup remedy that I have used since I was a kid. I don’t remember how I got started with this, but I think I just tried it on my own and it worked. Whenever I get the hiccups, I just swallow a teaspoon full of vinegar. My husband thinks it’s disgusting, but it always seems to work. I usually use apple cider vinegar, but it would be interesting to try a milder type, such as rice wine vinegar and see if it works!”

Chocolate for Hiccups:

One of our favorite hiccup remedies: a few chocolate chips. Others have reported that several spoons full of chocolate-chip mint ice cream does the trick.

Do you love reading about such remedies? If so, you are likely to enjoy our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies: Q&As for Your Common Ailments. You will find lots of other hiccup remedies along with hundreds of simple solutions to everyday health problems.

And if you have a favorite or unusual hiccup remedy, please tell us about it in the section below for your thoughts.

Revised 4/17/17

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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What is effective depends on what is causing the hiccups. Intractable (won’t go away) hiccups after epidural steroid are long-lasting and resistant to treatment. Long-acting steroid administered with this procedure stays ‘on board’ for an extended period, peaking in about a week. Candied ginger has been effective for 3-4 hours but has not been a permanent solution.

I learned to drink water upside down.

Basically take a glass of water. Bend over forward and drink for maybe ten seconds from the glass. You will notice the water comes in through the top of your mouth. I understand it releases the pinched diaphragm by stretching.

Power of concentration-stare at something, anything, continue to hold your stare, until you see nothing but what you are staring at, you will feel a little gurgle and they will be gone.

I learned my go-to hiccup remedy from my first child when he was just a nursing infant. He got hiccups fairly often, and they would always go away when my milk “let down” while he was nursing. At that point, he went from sipping to swallowing rapidly and continuously. So I tried drinking a glass of water by swallowing continuously without pauses between swallows, and it worked. The standard “drink a glass of water” advice doesn’t work if you just sip it. I do try to be careful not to swallow air along with the water because sometimes swallowing air triggers hiccups for me. My son is 40 now, and I’ve been using this remedy all this time.

Sometime within the past 5 or 6 years, I read about a doctor who suggests eating a couple of olives as a cure for the hiccups. I think they were Spanish olives – the kind stuffed w/pimento. Saves on the water bill.

This hiccup cure was given to me 45 years ago by a friend’s grandmother and it has worked without fail every time (even for long-lasting hiccups): you will need a cup, water and a book of matches. Pour approximately one third cup water into a cup. Detach 3 matches from the matchbook.

Light one match, immediately extinguish the flame in the water, then discard the soggy match. Repeat with the remaining 2 matches. Immediately drink the water. This also works well with wooden safety matches. The hiccups are instantly cured and will not return (as often happens with other methods)

Drinking warm water has stopped hiccups for me and my children.

Joann W.

My cure is simple: take a deep breath and hold it and stay still, as long you can, reasonably.

Like the one with the pencil between your teeth and drink 8 swallows of water without stopping from a coffee mug. I was buying some fishing stuff and the lady behind the counter had the hiccups for 3 hours. Get a coffee cup full of water, hold a pen between your teeth and drink 8 swallows of water without stopping and it works.

She gave me my purchase of 32 dollars, she said thank you, that now, she would never from hiccups again. It’s like your reader, I got that from a guy who ran a bar for 32 years.

By holding your breath “hard” you press down on the diaphragm, that is out of sync.
Stand still and hold your breath as long as you easily can, then slowly let it out.

This will usually stop the diaphragm from being out of rhythm. All these other cures that involve drinking, are just trying to overcome the diaphragm being out of sync, in a more convoluted way.

Hiccups solution: Stick your fingers in your ears while you sip water from the sink faucet. Always works.

My solution is a teaspoon of sugar held on the tongue until it dissolves. This may not be 100% effective and sometimes requires a second application, but it does not require any physical gyrations, unpleasant taste sensations, or mental effort…. and it has a pleasant taste. I thought it was worth a try and have since abandoned all other suggestions. I hate hiccups.

When my daughter was young, I knew a bartender that swore by the use of green olives for his customers that got hiccups.
I tried it with her and although she disliked the taste, the hiccups were gone in 30 seconds. 11 years later, we still eat 2-4 whenever anyone in the family has them!

Here is the absolute cure for hiccups it has never failed myself or anyone I shared it with. In 1976 a beautiful young barmaid told me to cut a lemon into quarters and bite into it and swallow the lemon quarter and instant relief, which again has never failed to do the job. Try it!!!!!

When we were children my dad cured hiccups by sitting down across from us, knee to knee. He had us extend our wrists, palms up, take a deep breath and hold it as long as possible while he encircled our wrists firmly with his own hands. By the time it became necessary to exhale, the hiccups were gone. My family still uses this method, but if alone, we fall back on some of the other remedies mentioned.

I drink a little dill pickle juice. Works every time. All of these remedies probably interrupt some signal to the brain and stop the hiccups.

Regarding your new website design of putting links to each segment of a newsletter at the bottom. I really like this. A definite improvement.

My wife has also had success using peanut butter to stop hiccups. It works immediately and every time. She just puts some on a spoon and licks a bit of it off. That’s all it takes for her.

In my experience, the most common but nearly unknown cause for violent persistent (48 hours or more) hiccups is a “rare” reaction to cortisone. I think it is much more common than one would think because while it may impact a very small percentage of folks who had had a cortisone shot, the number of recipients of the treatment is huge.

In the 1960’s I received a cortisone shot in my knee two different times and both times I had violent hiccups for two solid days and nights. I told the Dr. that I suspected Cortisone was the cause and he literally laughed. “Not possible” he said. In the 1990’s an elderly friend was having a series of surgeries for hip trouble, and he dreaded each visit to the hospital because each time he got violent hiccups. I told his wife to ask the Dr. about cortisone, and sure enough that was it. In this case, the BEST CURE is PREVENTION! Use a different medicine if possible.

Take a mouth full of water, push your head back wards as far as you can open your mouth wide as you breath through the nose as you allow d water to gaggle for a minute then split out the water. It has worked for my bro who has been suffering for 3 days post surgery. Above all pray. God still does wonders

My mom’s absolute CURE for hiccups: drink 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with small amount of water. Everyone who tries this is amazed at the almost instant success.

My cure for hiccups is to get a glass of water and quickly take 7 small sips without stopping. I don’t know where I read this “home cure” but for me it works every time. It even works on my husband who usually gets hiccups for days. When I can finally talk him into trying the 7 sips of water….voila….hiccups gone. Hope that helps someone :)

It might sound impossible but this is how I cure my hiccups,Whenever I experience hiccups I take a deep breath lasting for about 45 seconds.When am done stubborn hiccups are gone.This helps me especially when am in a place that I can not access clean water to drink.

My remedy is very similar. Immediately after a hiccup, hold your breath and take 10 small swallows of water. DON’T BURP! Exhale, and your hiccups will be gone.

Here’s what my husband uses, for hiccups/hiccoughs:

An acupressure point, pressed on gently but firmly is this:

Press (with fleshy part of finger, opposite the nail), on the little dimple, just under the nose, and above the middle of the upper lip.

This works.

Another thought to consider: Some people have DF/Diaphragmatic Flutter, which can cause hiccup-like events. For those whose hiccups last way too long, get checked for possible Diaphragmatic Flutter (DF).

There’s a medical test called “Plethysmography”, that can determine whether one has or doesn’t have DF.

DF is very treatable! The phrenic nerve is sometimes the cause of the DF, and there is a treatment called “Phrenic Nerve Crush”, that has helped many to conquer their DF. What happens, with this “crush” of
the faulty part of one’s phrenic nerve, is that the destroyed part REGROWS, and regrows normally.

Before getting the Phrenic Nerve Crush treatment, savvy doctors will inject something as a trial, first, and if there’s improvement, THEN, the docs can proceed with that Phrenic Nerve Crush option!

Hope this helps some.

Carol (VCD lady) in Colorado

An additional thought: Some people have hiccup-like events that are not actually hiccups. These hiccup-like sounds, can be “tics”. Tics can happen as a result of an “auto-immune” response to infections, such as strep (streptococcal bacteria), Lyme disease organisms, and others, too.

The “tics” in such cases are part of a syndrome called PANDAS, which means Pediatric Auto-immune Neuro-psychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal bacterial infections (and lots of other possible infections).

Such PANDAS patients, who were previously thought to just have long-lasting hiccups, need to be diagnosed and treated by PANDAS expert docs.

Some treatments for hiccup-like tics, from PANDAS, include 1 or more of the following:

1) antibiotic treatment to get rid of the lingering infection(s),
2) IVIG (Intra-Venous Immune Globulin): This really helps many.
3) homeopathic treatments
4) not just accepting a “Tourette’s Syndrome” diagnosis, and not just accepting a “hysteria” diagnosis.
5) Read “Saving Sammy” about a PANDAS patient’s mom, who got her son cured.
6) Research PANDAS, online, to find PANDAS-savvy docs in your area.

Sincerely, Carol (VCD lady) in Colorado

I don’t get hiccups often, but my husband and granddaughter do (also they both have reflux problems). The last time my husband had them (for over a day) I’d read a teaspoon of honey was a cure; and it worked for him. A couple weeks later I got hiccups while eating. I took a long 3-gulp drink thru a straw without trying to catch my breath between drinks and it worked. Next time I was with my granddaughter and she got hiccups I had her try it and it worked for her too.

Here’s an easier, less awkward cure for hiccups: fill a glass with water or any liquid, place a clean paper towel over the glass, and drink a few sips through the paper towel. Can repeat if needed. When I was teaching and a child had them, I used this remedy and they thought I was a miracle worker!!!

Works every time for me… look at (concentrate on) the sharp edge of a knife.

Like Sandy said above, most cures involve intense concentration on what you are doing. This is a good example that follows that theory!

Yes-paper towel over a glass of water works everytime. You need to be patient and drink a full glass.

In the version I learned, you stare at any horizontal line, like the base of a wall, and while doing so, concentrate on the (infinitely-far-away) imaginary far-right and far-left ends of the line. You’re just trying to slow your breathing while concentrating on something other than the hiccups.

The drinking upside down trick is something our family has always used, but I was taught to lean over a sink and drink out of the “wrong” side of a cup… so essentially you have your chin inside the cup while your mouth is on the opposite side with your head and chest bent over and you can take several sips and swallows that way… usually works and is easy to do.

That is almost the same way my family has cured the hiccups for generations
First a teaspoon of sugar is swallowed then you drink a glass of water “upside down”
Leaning over and drinking from the rim of the glass away from you not closest to you aka the outside rim
This has worked for me since I was 2 years old!

Try gently pressing on an acupressure point, located under the nostrils, just above the upper lip, in the little “dimple” between bottom of nose and upper lip.

This acupressure point helps stop hiccups (hiccoughs).

Use fleshy underside of a finger (next to thumb), to use this acupressure point to stop hiccups.

That’s what we always do. When my wife gets hiccups, I immediately say “Drink some upside down water.” It hasn’t failed yet, and I’ve been doing it about 50 years!

I find it fascinating that the majority of cures for hiccups involve drinking small amounts of water in a way that requires intense concentration on what you are doing. My cure is the same. Drink out of the wrong side of the glass. Instead of drinking out of the glass normally, you must bend over until you can get a sip or two of water out of the side away from you. It is very similar to the idea above of taking a small amount of water in your mouth and bend over as far as you can before you swallow it. That sounds easier, so I will definitely try it. But, it seems to me that the common thread in many of these cures is strong concentration.

My mother-in-law shared the remedy of bending over and drinking from the far side of a glass of water. It has worked for my family for decades!

Hold your nose and drink water. It’s the drowning effect. Got it from someone on the ‘net years ago and it works every time. :-)

When I was eight, I thought up this hiccup cure as I was tormented often by them. Count between hiccups. The spasms seem to be very regular in seconds between them. When you next hiccup, do your count. Just as you are reaching the time when the next one will occur, take a couple of swallows of water. As a kid, I thought it drowned the coming hiccup. It has always worked for me and I’ve taught it to all of my children.

Cure that works: After the first hiccup (don’t wait for the second hiccup, or it’s too late!), just hold your breath for a few seconds. It works every time as long as you catch it after the first hiccup!

I rid hiccups by holding my breath and counting to 100. That sounds like a lot, but it’s really only about 30 seconds.

To rid yourself of hiccups:
Clasp your hands together to intertwine the fingers and press your clasped hands hard down on your head while holding your breath 20 seconds or more. No more hiccups. If this doesn’t work for you, ask someone else to assist you by looking them in the eyes as they press down hard with their intertwined hands on your head while you hold your breath as long as possible. Works for most people.

Cure that I have found to be helpful 100% of the time, and have shared with others. To their amazement it has worked for them as well.

Fill a small glass with water. Put a metal teaspoon in the water with the spoon in the water. Place the stem part of the spoon, which is out of the water, on your forehead.

Then, drink the water, continuing to keep the stem portion on your forehead. That’s it. It should immediately end the hiccups!

I always cure hiccups by taking a glass of water, and while standing over a sink, tip your head down and try drinking from the other side of the glass. By the time I have taken a few sips of water, they are always gone.

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