Can Thinking About Cows Help Stop Hiccups?
If you asked 10 people for THE cure for hiccups, there’s a chance you’d get 10 different responses. So does ANYTHING work consistently?
CNN recently asked doctors about a slew of different “hiccup cures,” and it’s possible that EVERYTHING works. At least a little. (Which makes sense. If something didn’t work at all, it wouldn’t be passed down over generations.)
Here’s a breakdown of the science behind hiccups AND all the silly cures:
For starters, hiccups are sudden spasms of the diaphragm muscle near the stomach. They send a message to your brain to close a flap in your throat again and again. Stopping them ideally involves the diaphragm, the “vagus nerve,” and the “phrenic nerve.”
1. Holding or Taking a Breath. Forcing any kind of unnatural breathing can be beneficial because it’s activating the diaphragm AND the phrenic nerve. In a way, this “tricks” your body, and makes it “forget” about the spasm.
2. Drinking Water. The remedies involving drinking in different ways can be effective because swallowing triggers the vagus nerve. And adding something a little complicated while drinking . . . like standing on one leg or drinking from the wrong side of the glass . . . can also distract your brain from the hiccups.
3. Downing a Spoonful. Eating a spoonful of sugar or peanut butter could also work . . . because those things don’t go down easy, they require suction, which stimulates the swallowing muscles and the vagus nerve.
Suction can also explain why plugging your ears might also work.
4. Sucking on a Lemon. Citrus and acidic or sour things also activate the vagus nerve.
5. Scaring Someone or Thinking About Cows. These seem too silly to be backed by science, but they can. Being scared is another trigger for the vagus nerve . . . and even though cows have nothing to do with hiccups, it puts your concentration somewhere else.
That combination of concentration and distraction can help “reset the brain to stop the hiccups.”