More Hiccups, Physiology in Chinese Medicine
Hiccups aren’t what most people would consider a medical concern, but persistent hiccups can be a major source of distress and frustration in those who experience them. Both western and Chinese medicine offer their own perspective on the condition, as well as treatment concepts that patients can adopt. Here, we’ll contrast the two perspectives and introduce the treatment modalities that Chinese medicine prescribes.
The Western and Chinese Perspectives on Hiccups
Western medicine is still working out the underlying mechanisms that drive hiccups. Currently, Houston physicians believe they’re caused by diaphragm irritation of some kind, but exactly where that irritation comes from is unknown. If a patient’s hiccups are severe enough to warrant treatment, western physicians will do so by prescribing anticonvulsants or tranquilizers.
Chinese medicine takes a different approach. Although hiccups can result from one of several causes in Chinese medicine, a common approach is to look for an imbalance of cold and warmth in the stomach and spleen. These two organs are closely linked in Chinese medicine, and the function of one can influence how the other one performs.
Houston Practitioners believe that cold foods and drinks are harmful to the stomach, and conditions arising from excess cold in the stomach can also produce vomiting, nausea, and other symptoms. Normally, this is treated with warm herbs. With hiccups, though, a different treatment approach is called for, as they are the result of a back and forth tug-of-war between warm and cold.
How Chinese Medicine Practitioners Treat Persistent Hiccups
To deal with persistent hiccups, Chinese medicine practitioners will typically rely on a combination of beneficial botanicals. A standard herbal formula is Shi Di (persimmon fruit) and Ding Xiang (clove). This herbal formula provides the warming effect that’s typically indicated for cold in the stomach, provided by the clove, but the addition of Shi Di balances out the cold/warm profile and helps direct energy flows from the lungs downward. This helps patients resist the compulsion to hiccup, thereby providing relief.