5 Shockingly Unexpected Cures for Common Health Problems

There are two ways to cure an ailment: go to the doctor and suck up whatever treatment they prescribe you, or let your friendly neighborhood shaman do the feathered snake dance on you while Jenny McCarthy screams bullshit about vaccinations in the background.

Well, that's the popular view, anyway. In reality, there are plenty of healing tricks hiding between the extremes of modern medicine and New Age insanity. Even better, a whole bunch of them are the sort of stuff you do every day! Well, maybe not all of you ...

#5. Fingering Your Asshole Can Cure Hiccups

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Note about that headline: This is not a fake article.

There are about a thousand home remedies for hiccups, with varying levels of effectiveness. You can hold your breath until your diaphragm resets. You can have the hiccups scared away. You can even eat a spoonful of sugar, which we're told is effective but carries a high risk of accidentally summoning Mary Poppins. But we hold ourselves to a higher standard. We strive to bring you the absolute best, most impressive way to get rid of that stupid diaphragm tic. We're prepared to dig as deep as it takes. Really, really deep. Butthole deep.

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Which, coincidentally, is where the Cracked editors go to defend against orcs.

Yes, science says it's possible to stop your intractable hiccups with a good rectal massage, and yes, they're being serious. It appears that the hiccups are closely connected with the vagus nerve, which runs all the way from your brain to your diaphragm ... and finally, near the rectum. The nerve interacts with others near the diaphragm, causing the fully formed "fuck you, body" experience that is the hiccups. The only moderately certain way to truly calm down that nerve is to confuse it with deliberate overstimulation (such as scaring someone to make their whole body flinch), and the most effective way to do that is to ... manually access it. Which, of course, means sticking stuff up your butt.

The proud researchers behind the Ig Nobel-worthy finding used something called a "digital rectal massage" to stimulate the vagus nerve, but for those of us with analog asses and/or an aversion to getting fingered by a robot, a simple human finger should suffice. Maybe your own. Maybe a friend's. You never know what will happen, come the next hiccups party!

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And suddenly people started hiding hiccups like they'd been bitten in the zombie apocalypse.

#4. Sprite May Cure Your Hangover

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People resort to all kinds of quackery to relieve hangovers, like eating a big greasy breakfast (which actually kind of works), but the fad among New Age types is drinks like fancy Chinese herbal teas (that one boasts an "ancient famous formula" that was perfected by the old, mystical drunks of the Orient). Well, scientists set out to test a bunch of popular beverages to see if there is one magical drink with hangover-curing properties. The winner was an elixir created by the healing artisans at the Coca-Cola Company called "Sprite."

AKA go right to hell [name of competitive lemon lime soda product omitted]

The reason this common soft drink appears to ease hangovers lies in some complicated chemistry. You see, hangovers are not directly caused by the alcohol itself -- the horrible things you feel after a Beefeater marathon are due to acetaldehyde, a metabolic byproduct of the aforementioned alcohol. Armed with this knowledge, researchers from Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou tested a variety of beverages to see how well they kick acetaldehyde's ass. Sprite came out on top (along with soda water, in case you think this is all just ham-handed ad insertion) due to chemistry reasons too complicated to delve into here.

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Our best guess.

So what about our mystical herbal teas from China? They were found to make the problem worse. Once again, traditional, all-natural remedies are trumped by the wonders of modern corporate junk food.

#3. Alcohol Can Stave Off a Cold

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There's no cure for the common cold, and there's practically fuck all you can do to prevent getting one. Drink all the orange juice you can muster and eat all the vitamin C supplements you can find -- they do little or nothing to prevent you from getting sick. Luckily, it's far from your only option for staving off a cold. In fact, you don't need any medication or supplements at all. All you need to do is get a little drunk.

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"Way ahead of you."

According to the American Journal of Public Health, good old-fashioned alcohol can indeed decrease your susceptibility to the common cold and other respiratory illnesses. Sadly, this is not an open call to get wasted ("Oh, that bottle of whiskey? Look, boss, I'm just trying to save some sick days"). There are, in fact, some very specific circumstances for the alcohol to take effect: You need to be a non-smoker, and you need to keep the consumption at a moderate level -- although, we're happy to report, it's less "a small glass of wine with dinner" and more "Sure, feel free to throw down three or four Jack and Cokes a day."

Researchers think the reason for alcohol's magic flu-stopping power lies in more complicated chemistry (specifically, ethanol's ability to boost our cyclic adenosine monophosphate levels to a Hulk-like degree, which allows our bodies to combat flu symptoms much more efficiently). It's worth noting that not every scientist vehemently agrees with the whole "just keep yourself tipsy and the virus won't stand a chance" argument: One Spanish study found that the consumption of beer and spirits had no correlation whatsoever with the risk of getting the flu. However, red wine seemed to do the trick, although the researchers are quick to point out there's a chance it could be just a glitch.

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"Drinking trial #159: Inconclusive. Back to the laboratory!"

But even those mixed results mean that alcohol has a better scientific record for cold prevention than shit in your supplement aisle like Airborne.

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