Herbal and Ayurvedic Treatment of Hiccups

By: Tom alter

Hiccoughs or hiccups are caused when the chest cavity gets suddenly contracted due to the irritation of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscular partition that divides the chest and the abdomen. Its contraction leads to the sound box (larynx) to shut temporarily, producing the characteristic hic sound of the hiccough.

In Ayurveda, there are five types of hiccoughs. They are all classified under Hikka Roga. Since hiccoughs are expulsions of wind from the chest cavity, they are caused due to vitiation of the vata dosha, which represents the air element of the human body. Especially the prana and the udaan vata sub-doshas are responsible for hiccoughs.

The exact cause of hiccoughs is not known to medical science. But Ayurveda holds the gastrointestinal tract responsible for them. They can be caused due to minor problems such as flatulence and constipation. In such cases, hiccoughs are not serious and they can be taken care of easily. But hiccoughs that are caused due to chronic conditions must be considered with great care.

Out of the five types of hiccoughs, the first three - annaja, yamala and kshudra - are considered by Ayurveda to be born out of gastrointestinal causes, due to problems such as constipation and flatulence. The remaining two types, gambhira and mahati, are caused due to serious complications. These hiccoughs cannot be treated easily.


(1)Useful Herbs/Plants in the Treatment of Hiccoughs

1.Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Inhaling black pepper powder can induce a person to sneezing. Sneezing is a violent movement of the respiratory tract. Therefore, it can put an end to hiccoughs.

2.Cardamom (Elattaria cardamomum)
Cardamom is another spice that is used for the treatment of hiccoughs. If the hiccough is persistent then a half teaspoon of cardamom powder is mixed in a cupful of water and then boiled to half its quantity. This solution is then filtered and drunk.

3.Mustard (Brassica junpea)
Due to its strong taste, mustard has capacity to stimulate the nerves in the throat region.Slowly swallowing a tablespoonful of mustard seeds mixed with ghee helps to reduce hiccoughs.

(2)Dietary Treatments for Hiccoughs

Most hiccoughs are due to indigestions in the stomach. Hence, the diet must be formulated so as to be light on the stomach. Take more fibers in the diet which will help in the proper digestion of food. Avoid too much spicy food, as spices take a long time to digest. White meats must be preferred over red meats.

If the person has recurrent hiccoughs, then a vata pacifying diet must be prescribed. Such a diet is one that is not totally dry - all dishes are moistened with a little ghee or oil. Lots of fresh juicy fruits and water must be consumed.

(3)Ayurvedic Treatments for Hiccoughs

The treatments of the five types of hiccoughs cannot be done in a general manner. The first step in the Ayurvedic treatment of hiccoughs is to investigate its cause. Minor hiccoughs will disappear in some time, and are not much of a problem. But if the hiccough is persistent, then the following therapies must be followed:-

(i)For acute hiccoughs, Mayurpichcha mashi is given along with ginger and honey. Mayurpichcha mashi is the ash of burnt peacock feather. This mixture is to be licked repeatedly, after every few minutes. It stops the hiccoughs in some time.

(ii)For persistent hiccoughs, take Chitrakadi vati in quantities of 250 milligrams thrice a day. Treatment is to be continued for two weeks. It is advisable to give carminative foods such as ginger, black pepper, fennel, cardamom, etc. to cure the gastrointestinal problem that may be causing the hiccoughs.

(iii)Somnath rasa is also a commonly prescribed medicine for hiccoughs.

(4)Home Medications

There are many household remedies used for controlling hiccoughs. But it must be borne in mind that if the hiccoughs do not stop with these remedies, then there is some serious cause, which must be investigated properly.

1.The age-old remedy is to get someone to suddenly frighten you. Like, get someone to scare you by suddenly shouting in your face. This will divert your nerves and stop the hiccoughs.

2.Drinking a glassful of water or even gargling with water helps to reduce hiccoughs. The best way to do this is to cover the ears and then drink the water in fast gulps, without stopping to breathe. This is the surest way to stop minor hiccoughs.

3.Eating something spicy and pungent can stop hiccoughs.

4.Try massaging the region at the back of the neck. This is the place where the nerves are much accessible. Massaging these nerves stimulates them into stopping the hiccoughs.

5.In case of children with hiccoughs, a spoonful of peanut butter or honey is a good remedy. It should be swallowed at once, without retaining it in the mouth. Alternatively, a spoonful of curds sweetened with sugar can also be given to children.

6.Another remedy that works for children is to make them hold some sugar below their tongues and then drink a glassful of water. Relief from hiccoughs is immediate.

7.Sudden jerking movements of the body, especially the neck and the chest, help in reducing the hiccoughs. This includes pulling the head back or forth vigorously, jumping, swaying to and fro, etc. Lying on the back for a while can also provide relief.

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