Hiccups can accompany a host of conditions, including pneumonia,
kidney failure, and Addison’s disease. Chronic constipation
can also aggravate the condition, according to Ayurveda, the
traditional Indian system of health. Usually, however, hiccups
pose no serious threat, nor do they always have an obvious
cause. Swallowing air when eating fast, irritating the diaphragm
by eating too much, eating fatty foods, or drinking alcohol—the
drunk hiccup—can put you at risk for hiccups.
Most anti-hiccup tactics center on increasing blood carbon dioxide levels. This goal lies behind techniques like holding your breath. Stimulating your vagus nerve can also relieve your hiccups. Drinking water (especially drinking a glass of water backwards, by bending over the glass and putting your mouth on the opposite edge of the rim) or pulling on your tongue does just that. For tough cases, pressure on the Heimlich Maneuver spot in the abdomen might work. Hippocrates himself appears to have favored the sneezing method. “Sneezing coming on, in the case of a person afflicted with a hiccup, removes the hiccup,” he said.
Of course, the remedies don’t stop there. For a creative approach to an age-old problem, try these methods, gathered from around the world:
Kaki cure. Michael Tierra, founder of The American Herbalists Guild, asserts, “The standard Chinese treatment is a tea made from the calyx of the persimmon called kaki.” (The calyx is the green outer whorl around the stem.) Kaki is used almost exclusively for hiccup management. For added effect, combine kaki with cloves. Use kaki at three to nine grams per day, brewed, for chronic conditions. Two
Kaki cure. Michael Tierra, founder of The American Herbalists Guild, asserts, “The standard Chinese treatment is a tea made from the calyx of the persimmon called kaki.” (The calyx is the green outer whorl around the stem.) Kaki is used almost exclusively for hiccup management. For added effect, combine kaki with cloves. Use kaki at three to nine grams per day, brewed, for chronic conditions.
Citrus and herbs. Chinese herbalists also use tangerine and other citrus fruits. To abort an attack, eat a tangerine or brew a tea from dried tangerine or mandarin orange or from orange peel. Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners also recommend sucking on slices of fresh ginger root or some cardamom seeds.
Tincture tactic. Ed Smith, founder of Herb Pharm and recent past member of The American Herbalists Guild board of directors, mentions the case of a patient hospitalized for a couple of weeks with persistent hiccups. Various drug therapies had no effect. Then the person took, remembers Smith, “one dose of a lobelia/skunk cabbage compound, and the hiccups ceased entirely in about one minute.” This compound, made from lobelia seed, skullcap, skunk cabbage, and myrrh with black cohosh and cayenne, was made legendary by Jethro Kloss in his famous Back to Eden, in which he named it an “antispasmodic tincture.” Herb Pharm sells a version of it through many health food stores.
Pressure points. Bill Schoenbart, professional herbalist and acupuncturist, advises, “To stop hiccups in another person, locate UB 17 on the back. It’s about one and a half inches lateral to the seventh thoracic vertebra on both sides. Press the points while the person leans back. It usually works.”
The American Journal of Gastroenterology details a Korean hand