“When I was younger, in like elementary school, I was at my friend’s house and I got the hiccups and they wouldn’t go away and my friend’s dad told me to get rid of hiccups you have to drink water out of a cup with a paper towel on top of it upside down. It was really confusing, but I mean the thought of it actually made it work.”
Informant is a first year student at the University of Southern California who grew up in Pleasanton, California. She learned this method from a childhood friend’s father, and has used it ever since.
I asked the informant if she had any home remedies that she likes, and she shared this cure for hiccups.
The folk belief that hiccups can be cured by drinking water upside down is quite common, but it is interesting to see the variation in this belief with the addition of placing a paper towel on top of the cup. It was most likely added as an attempt at keeping the water from spilling while the children struggled to drink the water upside down, but the informant still follows this to this day.
As a piece of folk medicine, it is evident that this practice is not based in science. It is interesting to see that not only do so many people follow this belief, but also the informant herself even seemed to recognize that this practice does not actually make scientific sense, admitting that just “the thought of it actually made it work.”