The People's Perspective on Medicine

Readers Favor Both Classic and Unusual Hiccup Remedies

Q. Years ago while eating in a restaurant I started hiccupping badly. I asked the bartender for his suggestion and he gave me a slice of lime with a few drops of Angostura bitters. I sucked on the lime as instructed and the hiccups stopped immediately.

I hate hiccups, so since then I have always kept a fresh lime and a bottle of bitters on hand. This remedy has never failed me. I have tried the lime alone and the bitters alone–neither worked but the combination works like magic.

A. Thanks for the recommendation. We’ve heard of numerous hiccup remedies over the years. A wedge of lemon or lime with Angostura bitters is a bartenders’ favorite. A spoonful of granulated sugar is another old-fashioned option for getting rid of hiccups.

More recently we have heard from people who favor chocolate for hiccups. One reader wrote:

“The chocolate cure really works. I was at a hair salon when a bout of hiccups started. I looked around me for anything that might help, and I saw a box of Hershey kisses, milk and dark chocolate.

“I don’t favor dark chocolate so I took two milk chocolate kisses. I ate them but my hiccups continued so I tried two dark chocolate ones instead. I shoved them into my mouth quickly and within a minute my hiccups were gone.”

You will find other hiccup cures in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
4.9- 17 ratings
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. .
The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies
$16.95

Home remedies can be surprisingly effective for a number of common ailments. They're less expensive with fewer side effects than prescription drugs. Time-tested solutions for minor health problems.

The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 20 comments
Comments
Add your comment

I’ve said this before but I think it works very well so here goes: hold your nose and drink water. Works for me every time. I read the tip somewhere on the ‘net few years ago. Thanks to the person who put it out there.

I learned to use Jacobson muscle relaxation techniques on myself, and have used them on people at parties who got hiccups. Take them to a quiet room do the Jacobson and voila’! I have cured myself of them often this way. I think it works by totally focusing concentration on other parts of the body and letting the hiccup muscles relax.

It did not work on a set of hiccups started by a bite of habenero peppers, which lasted 24 hours!

Of course Jacobson it quite useful for lots of things, but I don’t see it anymore. It was used in systematic desensitization starting in the 60s (when I quit clinical psych).

Very relaxing.

I hold my breath and drink a glass of water all at once — 10 swallows minimum — not ice water just tap water. Works for me and I don’t spill any of it!

For many years, I’ve used the teaspoon of sugar and it has never failed me. Don’t know why it works but I try not to look a gift horse in the mouth :)

Several times in the past when I’ve gotten the hiccups that wouldn’t go away,I would start to laugh because it was so embarrassing!I noticed when I did get the giggles and joked about it,they went away.Watching or listening to something or someone funny works great too!I can’t say why it works-maybe we relax when we laugh?-but it does!Sometimes we just have to laugh at ourselves!

I seldom get hiccups, but when I do I hold my breath and take a sip of water and swallow. Hiccups are gone.

A sure-fire cure for hiccups is a spoonful of dill pickle juice. It works every time, and my grandchildren ask for it now when they get the hiccups, because they know it works.

As a bartender for several years, I heard several remedies. This one never failed me: Fill about a half a glass of water, then bend over with the glass, and drink it from the opposite side of the glass. Not always easy for some people to do, but it works everytime.

I’ve tried that one and it does work, but I typically spill a lot of water all over me in the process! Someone told me to try drinking a glass of water with a pencil between my teeth – that worked too! I think it’s the process of gulping air while swallowing the water that gets rid of the hiccups.

Try this: look someone in the eye and say, “Watch me hiccup.” Keep looking them in the eye until you realize your hiccups stopped. It works with kids and adults.

Twice I have had violent hiccups which lasted for DAYS (and NIGHTS).
Nothing I tried worked for more than a few minutes.
Both times, the hiccups were brought on by a cortisone shot in my knee.
This was many years ago, and at the time my Dr. actually laughed at me when I suggested that cortisone was to blame.
If your hiccups may be coming from cortisone shots, Google “cortisone and hiccups”. There are some things listed that worked for others.

I sometimes get hiccups, and I read somewhere that sticking a finger in each ear for a couple of minutes, and swallowing normally, will stop the hiccups. I tried it, and it really worked. Sometimes it needs to be repeated, but it is a trick that can be done anywhere, and it really worth a try.

I have been a bartender for almost 30 years. I found the lemon, bitters and sugar (yes, all 3) in the mid-90s and it has worked on every single person but one (and I am pretty sure this individual was simply too stubborn for this to work on… he was convinced that my remedy would not work–so it didn’t). 99.999% cure rate. Stand up, bend over and drink a glass of water from the other side. This has about a 75% cure rate… and it’s much more fun to watch! LOL
Hope this helps!

I’ve used this hiccup cure for over 40 years and it has never failed. Drink 6-8 oz of water from the wrong side of the class. It’s a bit awkward to do in public but it never fails.

a spoonful of peanut butter works and another one is to hold your breath and take a couple of drinks of water… works every time!
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
See our message to JT regarding the dangers of peanut butter.

Several years ago, a friend of mine suggested peanut butter for hiccups. It works every time and a small spoonful is usually enough. I’m surprised that I’ve never seen or heard it recommended anywhere else!
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
We have actually heard about this remedy from many visitors to this website and have even mentioned it on a few occasions. But here is the problem. Read the following Q&A we published March 13, 2006. This is why we are VERY cautious about the peanut butter remedy:
Q. You’ve discussed remedies for hiccups in your column. You got a warning about eating peanut butter off a spoon and responded: “If someone has trouble swallowing, it would be prudent to avoid peanut butter. But for most folks, we can’t see how it would matter much if the peanut butter were on a piece of celery or just licked off a spoon.”
Actually, it could be a matter of life and death! I lost a good friend in January because she choked to death on two tablespoons of peanut butter. Her husband found her and by the time paramedics arrived she was brain dead.
I have no idea whether she was suffering from hiccups, but she certainly took too much peanut butter either for that or for a snack.
Everyone I’ve talked to has been horrified by this. I suspect she might have survived if she’d eaten her two spoonfuls gradually on crackers or celery, or maybe stayed away from peanut butter altogether.
This is the only time I’ve heard of such an event, but…considering how the story ended, it might be worth revisiting in your column. My friend did not have problems swallowing! She was a very bright, capable person in her early 60s.
A. Thank you for alerting us to this danger. We will no longer suggest peanut butter as a hiccup remedy.

TWO (2) tablespoons of peanut butter? that’s alot of peanut butter at one time, hiccups or not! But if the deceased was found dead, how did anyone know how much peanut butter she had consumed unless she attempted to swallow that much at one time and choked. Perhaps the peanut butter, per se, may not have been the cause of death, rather the volume of same.

My grandmother’s remedy was a teaspoon of sugar with vinegar. It works. I wonder whether it’s the acidity of the lime or the vinegar that help. I love lime, so I’ll try that next time.

Whenever I got hiccups as a kid my mother would have us take a teaspoon of damson preserves which worked instantly every time. I rarely get them anymore but it sure is a tasty way to clear the hiccups. My mother made our damson preserves but Garner Foods in Winston Salem still package them for retail sale.

Fresh oranges will stop hiccups, too!! I found that sucking on a fresh orange has never failed to stop my hiccups (since my accidenatl discovery in the 1970’s). By the time I’m finished eating the orange, the hiccups are completely gone. However, drinking orange juice has no effect on hiccups. It’s interesting that a lime works as well. There must be something about the citrus and sucking action combined.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^