Of all the folk remedies for hiccups, only two have achieved the lofty status of mention in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, according to physicians at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The two:The ever-popular sugar cure. Put a teaspoonful of dry, granulated sugar in your mouth and suck on it till it's gone. One study found this stopped hiccups in 19 of 20 people, including a few who had been plagued for weeks.

The much less famous cotton swab trick. Rub the swab at the point on the roof of the mouth where the hard surface becomes soft, known as the junction of the hard and soft palates.

Both techniques deliver a sensory overload to the phrenic nerve, which normally maintains smooth breathing by regulating the motion of the diaphragm.

No one fully understands the mechanism, but most theories of hiccupping suggest that stresses on the diaphragm can launch attacks, while stimulation of the nerve can shut them down.