Can cannabis cure the hiccups?

Can cannabis cure the hiccups?
Steven Voser

In 1998, doctors came across a patient with a rare case of chronic hiccups. Nothing worked to control the symptoms. Until they tried weed.

We’re currently entering the golden age of cannabis research, and one of the latest findings to make headlines is this; cannabis can cure the hiccups.

But unlike most of the research into cannabis making it into the news nowadays, the science behind these findings dates back to the 1990s, when a patient suffering from intractable hiccups only found relief using weed.


Let’s be honest; we all get the hiccups sometimes. But a regular case of the hiccups will usually last a few minutes. However, some people suffer from severe, long-term cases of the hiccups which end up disrupting their daily routine, eating and sleeping patterns, and more.

Intractable hiccups is a legitimate medical condition and, no matter how bizarre it might sound, is very serious. Patients suffering from an intractable case of hiccups can suffer for days on end. In fact, WebMD claims the longest recorded case of intractable hiccups lasted for over 60 years (take that with a grain of salt, please).[1]

Intractable hiccups is usually a symptom caused by one or more underlying cause/s. These can include everything from injury to meningitis, encephalitis, or even a stroke. Once the underlying cause is treated, the hiccups will usually subside on their own.

Chronic hiccups can have devastating effects on a patient and greatly interrupt their life and daily routines. They most commonly affect a patient's eating/drinking and sleeping patterns, which can ultimately lead to more serious problems like extreme weight loss, dehydration, and exhaustion.

Besides this, intractable hiccups can have a very profound effect on a patient’s mood. Most people will agree that having the hiccups is uncomfortable, even when they only last for a few minutes. When dragged out over extended periods of time, however, they can become extremely difficult to deal with.



According to a study published in The Lancet medical journal, cannabis can in fact cure intractable hiccups.[2]

The study was published in 1998 and focused on a patient with AIDS and a history of esophageal candidiasis, an infection of the esophagus, which is a muscular tube connecting the throat (pharynx) with the stomach. After undergoing minor surgery, the patient developed a chronic case of the hiccups.

Doctors first prescribed him chlorpromazine (better known by its brand name Thorazine), an antipsychotic medication often used to manage psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, but also regularly prescribed as hiccup medication. For this particular patient, it only helped to control the hiccups during sleep.

The patient was then prescribed nifedipine, valproate, lansoprazole, and intravenous lidocaine, all of which had no effect. On day 6 following the onset of the hiccups, the doctors treating the patient tried acupuncture, which managed to control the symptoms for about 1 hour following the session.

The doctors also tried other alternatives, such as removing a hair from the patient’s ear canal before anesthetizing it with marcaine. Unfortunately for the patient, nothing they tried provided any solid relief.

On day 8, the doctors prescribed the patient medical marijuana, and it worked; the hiccups subsided. The next day they returned, but the patient managed to send them on their way with another dose of cannabis.


The study published in The Lancet was the first and last of its kind. It’s also important to realize the study was conducted in 1998, which is equivalent to the stone age for cannabis research.

Even the authors of the study acknowledged that despite their discovery, it was unlikely that other studies will look into the possibility of using cannabis as a treatment for intractable hiccups. And at least until now, they were right.

Because there has been no more research into this topic, it’s virtually impossible to come to any solid conclusions or hypotheses about how cannabis could work to combat the hiccups.

There’ll undoubtedly be those who take the info from this study and advocate that cannabis is a new miracle cure for hiccups. And who knows, it might be.

So, if you feel the need to light up in order to combat a particularly nasty case of the hiccups, feel free to try it. But let’s be honest, your hiccups will probably be gone by the time you’re done rolling your joint or loading up the bong.


  1. ^ Web MD, What are Intractable Hiccups?, retrieved December-18-2018
  2. ^ The Lancet, Marijuana for intractable hiccups, retrieved December-18-2018

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.