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Hiccups

General characteristics

General characteristics

Hiccups (or hiccoughs) are a sudden involuntary contraction or spasm of the diaphragm muscle. This reflex response is thought to be activated by stimulation from the phrenic nerve.

Common causes include an increase in stomach pressure, swallowing air, eating too quickly or too much at one meal, eating very spicy food (chilli hiccups!), fizzy drinks, alcohol, hiatus hernia, excitement or stress, noxious fumes, some medications (eg.antacids, tranquillisers), after abdominal surgery, and sudden changes in temperature. If they last for days or more there may be a more serious underlying cause such as a condition which irritates the nerves to the diaphragm (liver disease, lung disease, thyroid enlarged etc.), spinal or neck vertebrae misalignment, brain tumour or a tumour pressing on the phrenic nerve, nervous system disorders, diabetes, salt imbalances, kidney disorders and stroke.

Healing objectives are to treat any underlying cause first and try to relax the diaphragm by controlling the breathing.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly without stress or excitement. Don't drink whilst you eat and don't eat too much at one meal.

Avoid eating food that is either very hot in temperature or very cold as this can trigger a bout of hiccups.

Drink a glass of fresh citrus juice daily. It seems to help both prevent and relief attacks of the hiccups.

Avoid really spicy foods as these can irritate the nerves and trigger an attack of hiccups in those susceptible.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Try using an anti-spasmodic formula containing equal parts of the tinctures of skullcap, black cohosh, vervain, cramp bark and wild yam. Take 1 teaspoon in water up to 3 times daily or 10 drops every hour.

The aromatic culinary herbs like cardamon pods, cinnamon, black pepper, mustard seeds and ginger can help to relief hiccups. Place a pinch of each (powdered or crushed) in a glass of hot water, stand for 10 minutes, strain and drink.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Drink a large glass of water slowly as this tends to change the breathing pattern and therefore interrupt the hiccup reflex. Drinking through a straw may also help.
Some people swear by eating a teaspoon of peanut butter, honey or sugar as they are sticky and take a little while to get down, again, changing the breath rhythm and interrupting the reflex.
Try placing a finger in each ear for 20 seconds.
Feel behind your ear lobes for the hollow where the skull meets the top of the jawbone for an accupressure point called Yi Feng. Push a fingertip firmly but gently into each hollow and massage very gently for a few seconds to stop the hiccups.
Gently but firmly pull your tongue.
Suck a sweet.
Hold the breath for as long as is comfortable or practise deep, long, slow belly breathing for a minute or so.

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