Hiccups are little more than a reflex. You get them when the vagus nerve or one of its branches, which runs from the brain to the abdomen, is irritated. Experts say hiccups are most often a reaction to common digestive disturbances. And they're usually more a nuisance than anything else. Even infants hiccup, and the reflex continues, about three to five times a year, throughout life.
The home remedies used to stop hiccups are believed to work on two principles. One way to stifle hiccups is to overwhelm the vagus nerve with another sensation. The vagus nerve signals the brain that more important matters have arisen, so it's time to knock off the hiccups. Other methods interfere with breathing, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. This probably causes the body to become more concerned with getting rid of the carbon dioxide than making hiccups.
Here are some tried-and-true remedies for hiccups from both "camps."