There are many cures for hiccups. Drink a glass of water through a straw with you ears plugged without taking a breath. Eat a spoonful of peanut butter whilst upside down. Pinch yourself. Scream for as long as you can. Fart. Say the word, “pineapple” and, my personal favourite, name seven bald men not including Yul Brynner.
Whether this cures your hiccups or not, it is a journey nonetheless but one possibly not to be exercised in public.
Although most bouts of hiccups last only minutes, they can last far longer. Lisa Graves, a 27-year-old beautician from Lincoln, has been hiccuping non-stop for eight years. Often she hiccups once an hour, but she can also do 100 hiccups a day.
Hiccups occur when the diaphragm – the muscle that lies between the stomach and the lungs – contracts, leading to a sharp intake of breath which is suddenly stopped by the vocal cords clamping shut.
Unborn babies can hiccup in the womb two months after conception. One theory is that this prepares the baby’s muscles for breathing, another that it prevents amniotic fluid getting into the lungs.
Wild yam, a close cousin to the sweet pink yam found on supermarket shelves, is a herb used to alleviate intestinal cramping and flatulence. It was originally called colic root and contains compounds called saponins which, when shaken in water, produce soap-like qualities.
This foaming action in plants has traditionally been used to aid digestion and alleviate cramping in the colon. It also helps with muscular cramps, the spasmodic breathing of asthma and, also, hiccups.
Fennel is a plant which is easily grown in the garden or in pots. The fresh stems of fennel can be eaten much like celery and the seeds add a lovely, almost aniseed-like flavour to dishes.
The seeds also act as an excellent aid to relieve hiccups as well as digestive complaints such as cramping, bloating and nausea.
Other methods of relieving hiccups are pulling your tongue out, taking a teaspoon of vinegar, draping a paper towel over a glass of water and drinking it and other remedies best not repeated here.