Most people get hiccups once in a while. There must be hundreds of cures for these involuntary spasms, which often go away spontaneously. Most of the following old remedies work because they shock the system into going back to the normal rhythm of breathing. Notice how many include some action on the tongue and inside of the mouth.
Norwegian villagers liked to use sugar dribbled into the back of the throat to stop hiccups.
Directions: Swallow a spoonful of white sugar. Allow the melting granules to trickle down the back of your throat. The sugar works on the nerve endings, and this interrupts the spasms. This same remedy recently turned up in an American medical journal.
Pull Your Tongue
Vikings restlessly roamed the world from the early time of Christianity to the time of the Crusades. Everywhere they went, to the east, south, and west, they were the agents of European expansion. Later they took perilous land trips to trade from fair to fair. ln the late seventeenth century, someone wrote about the best-of-all hiccup remedy-“from a Dane.” It requires a clean cloth, no mean achievement in those days, but more than possible today.
Directions: Grasp the tongue in a clean handkerchief and pull it forward, squeezing it firmly. At the same time, slowly and silently count from one to one hundred. These two actions apparently inhibit the entire zone in which most hiccups start and halts the hiccups.
Hold Your Breath
The early American settlers had an easy approach to hiccups and just recommended drinking something while holding the breath. This helps the breath get back into sync with the lungs.
In the Ozark Mountains, descendants of old settlers pass on this hiccup cure using reconstituted dried apples.
Directions: Place four teaspoons of dried apples in a cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, stirring occasionally. Strain out the apples, drink the juice while pleasantly hot.
Pliny recorded that in ancient Rome they cured hiccups by drinking small amounts of raw cabbage in vinegar (which sounds like Roman sauerkraut) with a little dill added to it. While the vinegar is the irritant that apparently stops the irritated cough, dill must also have some profound aromatic effect. Latter-day Poles favored a vinegar cure. It sounds drastic, so only use it when all else fails.
Directions: Make a paste of powdered mustard and table vinegar and cover up about a third of the tongue with this paste. Hold it on the tongue for a few minutes, then rinse out your mouth with lukewarm water. Polish scribes write, “The hiccups will stop instantly, sometimes even before the washing of the mouth.”
Simple water hiccup cures are legion. Most involve drinking water from a glass at some odd angle. Local Italian village healers advised the following remedy for simple (meaning uncomplicated) hiccups.
Directions: “Drink a glass of water, but not in the usual way. Drink from the farthest side of the glass by stretching out your neck and lowering your head, so that the lower part of your chin presses against the nearest edge of the glass.”
Along the early American frontier, cattle roundup cooks stopped cowboys from hiccupping by cutting off the rind of a lemon wedge and saturating the lemon in bitters-preferably the Angostura bitters (bitters help with digestion, so the cooks carried some in the chuck wagon). The cook added a large dollop of sugar and gave it to the patient to suck. This usually worked very quickly.
Ginger hiccup cures abound throughout the Old World. Here are two old Chinese hiccup remedies.
Directions: Mix ginger juice with an equal amount of honey. Drink slowly. An alternative is to use fresh ginger slices. Put one ginger slice in the mouth, chew it slowly, and swallow the juice. By the time you eat several slices, the hiccups should vanish. The Chinese advise patients with a mouth infection or laryngitis not to use this ginger juice remedy for the hiccups.
Breath With Hand Movements
In Sweden, villagers once combined breath and movement to cure hiccups.
Directions: Hold your breath. join the thumb of each hand with the little linger. Make wide circles with both hands. Evidentially, mental and physical exertion in creating wide circles and the touching of the four fingers nerves causes the hiccups to stop.