It seems like everyone has a different "cure" for hiccups these days. Some folks swear by holding their breath for a short period of time, while others say getting a good scare from another person does the trick. But is there really one true cure for hiccups? Or, is there at least one way that works a little better than others?
Several years ago, a good friend of mine suggested eating a spoonful of peanut butter to stop my hiccups. Admittedly, I thought this idea was strange as heck. That is, until I actually tried it — and it worked like an absolute charm. Although I personally have never gone back to any other hiccup remedy besides peanut butter, I couldn't help but wonder whether this technique actually has any basis in science — or whether it would be helpful for people other than me and my friend. (Clearly, this home remedy would not be appropriate for anyone who has a peanut allergy, or who simply despises the taste of nut butter in general.)
But before you find out whether peanut butter for hiccups is the ultimate remedy for you, it's important to understand what hiccups actually are — and why they're so difficult to stop sometimes.
What causes hiccups?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a hiccup is an involuntary contraction of your diaphragm, which is a muscle that plays a crucial role in your breathing. These contractions are followed by a quick closure of your vocal cords — and that produces the infamous "hic" sound associated with hiccups. Experts admit that the best home remedy for hiccups is just as mysterious as hiccups themselves.
As the Cleveland Clinic reports, the exact cause of hiccups remains uncertain. That said, there are several reasons why mild hiccups might occur, including: eating or drinking too quickly, over-stretching your neck, drinking alcohol, eating too much, or even simply experiencing stress. Note: Long-lasting hiccups may be linked to a more serious condition and should be addressed by your doctor ASAP.
Would you try peanut butter for hiccups?
As you might imagine, experts say there are currently no large, scientifically-backed trials nor consensus statements on how to treat hiccups. However, internist Tyler Cymet, DO, did address the peanut butter remedy in an article published in The Guardian. This same story covered a woman who has hiccup spells "nearly every day," which is possibly linked to acid reflux disease she had as a baby.
This woman in question swore by a spoonful of peanut butter — eaten very slowly — as the remedy that works best for her, thinking that the creamy spread might be "coating" her esophagus. Cymet, however, had other thoughts on this practice.
"The peanut butter is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy, where you're controlling your breathing and thinking about what you're doing instead of getting anxious," explained Cymet.
So in other words, if you try peanut butter for hiccups and it does work for you, it may be that it actually has a mentally calming effect. And if it doesn't work, hey, at least you had an excuse to eat peanut butter straight from the spoon!