Tag Archives: hiccups

Cure for the Hiccups

The informant is a 58-year old woman from Trinidad, who has lived in the United States for 45 years. She was raised by her parents in Trinidad and lived in a house with her parents, grandparents, and nine siblings. She attended primary school, and then began working as a housekeeper and nanny. She loves cooking, mainly without recipes or set amounts of any ingredients, having learned her recipes “from my mom and aunts and from trial and error.” The following is a cure for hiccups that she shared with me.

 

Informant: “When you have the hiccups, take a piece of cotton—you can use a cotton ball, that works well, or you can even use tissue if you don’t have any cotton—and get it wet. Not soaking, but wet enough. Then place it on your forehead, a little above your eyebrows.”

Interviewer: “And that’s all?”

Informant: “Well, you hold it there for a minute, or even a few minutes. And the hiccups should go away.”

Interviewer: “Where did you learn that?”

Informant: “My grandma told me to do it when I was younger. And it worked. It always worked. So I kept doing it. And it always works, I don’t know why but it does.”

 

Thoughts:

The power of belief is amazing! I have actually tried this remedy to alleviate the hiccups and it has worked all three times I have tried it. I doubt it is from the wet cotton but rather from my belief in its potency that stops the hiccups. This is something like the placebo test in its effective nature despite lack of “scientific” evidence.

Hiccups are a sort of naturally occurring phenomena–it makes sense that there are such a vast array of remedies for this common ailment, so to speak. While homeopathic magic often seems silly at first glance, or roundabout, it was so interesting to read about how so much modern medicine — 80% of it in fact–comes from remedies known to indigenous people; a lot of the medicines that cure ailments and illnesses, even diseases as pervasive and previously considered deadly as cancer (such as the rosie periwinkle plant native to Madagascar is known to be able to do with Leukemia), come about from bio prospecting folk remedies.

 

No More Hiccups

This informant is a sophomore student at USC.  I explained all the different types of folklore there were and he decided to share his his recipe for getting rid of the hiccups that his mother swore by.

First you eat a lot of grapes, like 6-8 until your mouth is pretty full.  Then chew them up and swallow them quickly followed by a big glass of water.  After the water goes down, hold your breath for as long as possible and only let out small amounts of air at a time.  Finally when you absolutely have to, take a deep breath and your hiccups will be gone!

I really didn’t even know what to make of this hiccups remedy, the grapes seem to be completely out of left field.  However, I have heard before that holding your breath can help.

Hiccups Cure – Sugar Under the Tongue

“If you ever have the hiccups, just put some sugar under your tongue to get rid of them.”

My informant told me this one day when I had a severe cases of the hiccups.  I was just telling him that I had tried many other folk remedies (holding my breath, gulping water, etc.) but none of them worked.  He then told me that one of his friends at work had told him that putting sugar under the tongue can eliminate hiccups.  He also told me that he had tried it before, and it really worked for him.  So, I proceeded to put sugar under my tongue, and sure enough, all my hiccups went away.

I think this remedy probably originated from somebody who was experimenting methods to get rid of hiccups.  While this method works for me, I am still somewhat skeptical if the act of putting sugar under your tongue really is a cure for hiccups.  Part of me believes that this whole thing is probably just a placebo effect.  My informant told me that he also believes that it is a placebo effect.  Despite this, he still tells other people about this cure when they have the hiccups

Remedy

Original script/version:

“I was told that when I had the hiccups, the best way to get rid of them quickly was to scare them away! It is a little difficult to be scared when you are expecting it, but the idea is to somehow have someone startle me enough to get rid of my hiccups.”

“I was originally told this trick by my older brother when I was about seven. I had a really bad case of the hiccups and I was almost in tears. My brother really liked to give me a bad time, so I think that was part of it. It did actually work the first couple times I had the hiccups. Then I think I expected it too much and it stopped working.”

Kyla said she thinks this might have just been a way for her brother to screw around with her. I don’t know very much about hiccups, and have never tried to have them “scared” away, but it doesn’t seem very plausible to me.

This could be related to a form of shock treatment. Some native Americans would alternate between sitting in a sauna and jumping in a ice cold river because they thought it was good for their body. Likewise, it could be believed that a sudden jolt would cause the body to change enough to stop the hiccups.

Remedy

Original script/version:

“Another was I was taught to get rid of the hiccups was to eat apple sauce or drink water from a cup while hanging upside down.”

“I must have gotten the hiccups often when I was younger because I have so many way for getting rid of them. Both of these suggestions came from my best friend. We were both 12 at the time, I think. We were hanging out at her house and I had a case of the hiccups. First she suggested eating apple sauce. I did, and it didn’t work. Then she suggested drinking water upside down. I don’t know if the water actually helped or I was so distracted by the whole process that I forgot about my hiccups. I have used apple sauce since then and it has stopped my hiccups.”

“I sometimes wonder if these techniques are successful only because of the placebo effect. Because I believe they will get rid of my hiccups, my hiccups stop.”

Eating foods is not a bad guess for stopping the hiccups. Because hiccups originate in the diaphragm, it is only logical that the first attempts to cure them would be directed at the chest. Drinking water inverted could be a way to change someone’s breathing pattern, or the more forceful swallowing action required to drink water upside down could also account for the effectiveness of this folklore remedy.