Repeated spasm of the diaphragm followed by sudden closure of the glottis.

What are Hiccups?

From Modern Western Medicine

Hiccups are a very common and usually minor disorder that occurs without obvious causes. In the vast majority of cases, hiccups stop without treatment. In rare cases, hiccups may arise from an irritation of the diaphragm or its nerve supply, conditions that may indicate several disease states, including pleurisy, pneumonia, disorders of the stomach or esophagus, pancreatitis, alcoholism, and hepatitis. Medications or surgery may be needed in those extremely rare cases of prolonged attacks.

From Traditional Medicine

Hiccups are an energetic imbalance of the stomach, spleen, and diaphragm, caused by foods, drinks, and ways of eating that have energetically conflicting affects on these organs. Typically, hiccups are brought on by rapidly eating a meal; by extremely cold or carbonated drinks that have a shocking or irritating affect on the stomach, spleen, and diaphragm; or by eating foods that have an expansive effect on the stomach and spleen (spices or sweets, for example), along with salty or highly alkaline foods (such as those rich in fat) that have a contracting effect. The two extremes cause the stomach, spleen, and diaphragm to go into spasm and bring on a case of the hiccups.

Some healers believe that high blood carbon dioxide level inhibits hiccups, a theory that has give rise to an endless array of home remedies, including holding one’s breath, placing a bag over one’s head, and drinking long gulps of water to inhibit breathing. Other common techniques are listed below:

  • Take 10 sips of water in rapid succession.
  • Lying on the left side for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Chew and swallow ice for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drink a glass of water from the opposite side of the glass.
  • Apply pressure with a flat hand just below the breast bone.
  • Hold breath while extending the head as far back as possible.
  • Eat some sugar.
  • Apply ice to neck.
  • Take a hot bath.
  • Stand on your head.
  • Take a roller coaster ride.


Foods to Eat

  • Lemon and lime juice
  • Raw onion juice every half hour
  • Tangerines


Foods to Avoid

  • Cold and/or carbonated water
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Tobacco


Herbs to Treat Hiccups

  • Chestnut leaves: 10 drops in warm water whenever needed
  • Skunk cabbage: make a tea and take teaspoons every 10 minutes; or take the tincture (15 drops in a cup of warm water)
  • Wild carrot: infusion, 3 – 9 g (contraindicated in pregnancy)
  • Pomegranate: 3 – 9 g
  • Elecampane: 3 – 9 g; tincture, 10 – 30 drops



  • Soak both feet in hot water 10 to 20 minutes, then massage them with a stimulating massage oil
  • Apply hot water fomentation over the stomach and chest. Make a tea from lobelia and apply.



Meditate while you wait ‘em out.