Expert Advice

How can I stop the hiccups?

Hiccups occur when you least expect it. Now you can breathe easy with these simple, natural cures for one of life's little annoyances.

How can I stop the hiccups?
Pin it Adam Levey

Hiccups happen when your diaphragm involuntarily spasms. The best way to stop them is to counter that action with a different sensory impulse. I've found two remedies that are particularly effective; the first is swallowing a teaspoon of sugar, which probably works by interfering with the nerve impulses that are telling the diaphragm to contract. Since this cure isn't always practical--you couldn't use it during a business meeting--I use another remedy that can be done anywhere. It involves adding two two-digit numbers [for example, 25 plus 45], in your head. By the time you've figured out the answer, your hiccups should be gone.
--Andre Dubois, M.D., a gastroenterologist in Kensington, Maryland

I've always had luck using acupressure to cure my hiccups. The Ge Shu point, which is alongside the seventh thoracic vertebra near the bottom of your shoulder blades, affects the diaphragm; pressing it can stop the spasms that cause hiccups. Unfortunately, you can't do this by yourself, so ask a friend to place her fingers on either side of the vertebra, about one finger's width away from the spine. She should press firmly until the hiccups cease; it can take anywhere from 10 seconds to a few minutes. It's an amazing cure--I've never seen it fail.
--Evan Fleischmann, N.D., a naturopathic physician who makes house calls in northern New Jersey and southern New York

TCM Practitioner
In Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM], hiccuping is linked to the stomach. Normally, stomach qi [pronounced "chi"] moves in a downward direction; hiccuping is the result of what's called rebellious or unruly qi--qi that moves in the wrong direction. TCM offers some wonderful hiccup remedies, including candied tangerine peels. The essential oils in the peel stimulate gastric function by opening the stomach sphincter and allowing chewed up food--called chime--to move through properly. The fruit of the herb Crataegus, also referred to as hawthorn, is used in TCM to treat food stagnation and can cure hiccups by balancing stomach qi.
--Bryn Clark, Dipl.O.M., chair of the NCCAOM Board of Commissioners, Beverly, Massachusetts