And suddenly people started hiding hiccups like they'd been bitten in the zombie apocalypse.
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 ...
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.
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!
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."
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.
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.
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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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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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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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Here's the bad news: Pop culture makes weight loss seem way easier than it actually is (losing a lot of weight is borderline impossible without surgery). But when it comes to burning a few effortless calories now and then, there are all sorts of little things you can do -- for instance, we have previously pointed out that fidgeting burns 350 calories a day. Well, now a study says you can add horror movies to the list.
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Yep, watching horror movies gives you a sitting workout ... as long as the movie actually scares you. Settling in for 90 minutes of terror manipulates your adrenaline levels, heart rate, oxygen intake, and carbon dioxide output in a way that mimics actual physical exercise, and thus burns calories. Granted, it's not enough to take you from chubby to Size 0 by watching the entire Leprechaun series in one night (although it is a surefire way to lose 20 pounds via shame-sweating), but it will burn around the same amount of calories as a 30-minute walk in a single sitting.
The study actually boiled it down to which specific movies worked best. Out of the 10 movies they tested, the number one spot went to The Shining, with a very decent 184 calories burned per viewing. Jaws will chew 161 calories off you, The Exorcist will chant 158 away, and Alien is good for 152. A general rule of thumb is to always go for the movies that rely on jump scares, as they are the most efficient at giving you those short bursts of fear-induced adrenaline, which increase your metabolism rate and thus cause the increased calorie loss.
"Hey, Cracked," someone is no doubt saying. "Couldn't watching a nice porno do the same thing? Like if it made me excited enough ..." The study didn't mention that, but what we can say is ...
Yes, friends, there is a whole host of minor ailments that can be cured with literally a flick of your wrist. You could say you have the solution to all these things right in your hand. You might even say that these cures are as easy as manually stimulating your genitals, if you know what we mean.
We know the vast majority of our readers are not too familiar with the concept of masturbation, but basically it's this thing that you do with the little you that leads to an orgasm, which is the miracle drug you're looking for. For instance, you know that old joke about how men tend to fall asleep after sex? Scientific fact, baby! At the moment of orgasm, your brain releases a ton of chemicals, most of which do indeed make you sleepy. Incidentally, one of said chemicals, oxytocin, is known to enforce bonds between people, so if you're one of those folks who genuinely fall asleep after Bone Time, it probably just means you're really into that person. But the point is that, yes, jerking it is a natural sleep aid.
But acting like the world's most awesome sleeping pill is far from the only magic orgasms are capable of. Because the universe is not always a terrible place, orgasms can totally treat headaches and migraines, to the point where they can actually cure them completely. If the "I have a headache" excuse to avoid sex is something that actually exists outside of sitcom spouses, here's your answer.
As for your perpetually stuffy nose, you guessed it -- there's no need to look further than the ol' hands-pants dance. There's just one catch: You need to be a dude (sadly, science has yet to confirm this particular trick's effectiveness for women, as it seems to require physical ejaculation). During a male orgasm, the blood vessels all over the body constrict, including the ones in your nose. This full-body cardiovascular spasm should be enough to free your locked nasal passages.
And if you like to do butt stuff at the same time, well, you can say goodbye to those hiccups, too. You'll feel like a new goddamned man.
Related Reading: By the way, there are probably a few cures you believe in that just don't work. Don't tilt your head back to avoid a nosebleed or you're a terrible fool. And by the way, Ginseng does fill you with energy if you're just willing to take a shitload of the stuff. While we're at it, did you know decapitated ants make perfect stitches?