Let me start off by saying this is not the kind of article I'd usually write. Generally Skytopia.com covers more sciency, techie stuff (like the Mandelbulb or latency), but this had to be done. There are so many 'good health' articles out there that cover vague "it could work, in a month, maybe" cures, or just generally tell you to "exercise, drink plenty of fluids, and eat better". This is all generally very good advice - don't get me wrong - but there's a distinct lack of articles listing cures which "just work". Instant ones, really instant. Not the fluffy "Do this x hours per day, and it could help you further down the road" type. If this article helps even one person (at least for those evil leg cramps), it'll have been worth making. The information provided on this page is free of charge - one thing's for sure, I certainly don't intend to sell you anything (I might stick an advert on if I can be bothered).
I am not a doctor. Instead I use a good dose of logic with some decidedly creative research and experience to offer the solutions on this page. Some of the 'remedies' shown below are rarely heard (if at all), but should probably work to a high degree for many or most people. Obviously, we can't promise they'll work 100% of the time for everyone. If anyone thinks I should add (or take away/modify) to this small but sweet list, please email me here. However, I'll want at least a few people saying the same thing (followed by a further research on my part), as anecdotal evidence can be dodgy.
DISCLAIMER: Anyone using this page for health advice does so at their own risk. Always seem the advice of a medical professional if in doubt.
Heartburn / acid reflux
Let's start with an easy, almost trivial one.
It seems almost everyone by now knows an instant cure for hiccups. Indeed, if you look on Youtube, everyone and their pet dog is desperate to show or tell you their favourite way of curing the affliction. However, it turns out that some methods have a better chance of success than others. Wikipedia is relatively mute on the issue, restricting solutions to mostly anecdotal references
. We can go one better though, by using meta-analysis and hunting for those videos on Youtube which focus on a given technique and also have a ton of comments (for a hope of some semblance of statistical accuracy), and seeing whether people say yay or nay. Yes, I sifted through thousands of comments to get these results (most comments are more obsessed with giving their own hiccups cure (when they're not uploading videos of their cat), and most probably didn't even have hiccups at the time to test the given video solution, but there will always be some who go out of their way to look for a cure). We'll start with the least promising technique:
"Knife in glass cure"
What you do:
Dip a knife in a glass of water (blade side down!) and drink it with the edge resting against your head.
74% sucess rate (37 worked, 13 didn't)
With a 74% success rate, even this technique will work for most people most of the time. However, it's far from a miracle solution.
"Teaspoon of Sugar cure"
What you do:
Swallow a teaspoon of sugar in one go.
79% success rate (41 worked, 11 didn't).
Better than before, but can we do better...
"Suffocate and swallow cure"
What you do:
Block your ears hold your breath, and swallow several times for about 30 seconds.
91% success rate (20 worked, 2 didn't).
A lack of data on this technique is slightly dodgy, but statistically, this is... interesting (assuming a 75% success rate, the chances of the technique working only for 2 or less people out of 22 is only 6%, so the result could be coincidence, but unlikely). A potentially better solution might be here
which uses a similar technique.
"Mind over matter cure"
What you do:
Make strange hand gesture and hold your breath
96% success rate (26 worked, 1 didn't).
The best cure for hiccups so far appears to be this strange, almost mind-over-matter technique (read: concentration diversion). Assuming no bias in the comments (and assuming the people replying aren't lying!), the significance of this approach is noteworthy and much more trustworthy than the above. There's only a 0.42% chance this result could have happened by a fluke (presuming the real result to have a 75% success rate).
Conclusion: There's probably some sample bias here and there, and at least for the latter two, more opinions/testing is needed, but it does provide an insight into the perfect hiccups/hiccoughs cure which you probably won't find any other way (unless a massively orchestrated experiment on the population is performed).
This one's particularly insidious. Not insidious because of the pain (well, okay that too), but because out of the top 15 Google results for "foot cramp" or "foot cramp cure", only one or two briefly mentioned this solution, and even then, only as something to do when it's actually too late. One or two others also hinted at the solution, but didn't quite make it all the way. Instead, typical web 'solutions' tend to vary from vitamin intake (magnesium), sitting down, proper fitting shoes, fluid intake, and foot massage, and something involving putting a bar of soap in the bed (placebo anyone?). Regardless of whether those help, it turns out that the one which can actually work (and work REALLY well) goes practically unmentioned.
Foot cramp of course can be excruciating. Its only 'plus' (if such a thing can be said) is that the pain goes almost as quickly as it comes, lasting only a few seconds in most cases, though the dull ache can last the rest of the day or week if you're unlucky. Some people have it multiple times nightly, perhaps severely for a minute or more, and I can only sympathize what kind of living nightmare that must be.
Bear in mind, the below cure should at least work for night-time foot cramp (the sport/exertion type - I'm not so sure, but heck, it's definitely worth a shot).
SOLUTION: Whenever you even *begin* to feel the slight twinges which lead to foot cramp, you'll have under a second or two in which to carry out this solution. In these fractions of a second, you need to do one of two things:
a: Immediately point your toes upward (towards you) and pull your foot upward too and hold for 10 to 60 seconds.
b: Opposite to the above - immediately point your toes the other way downward and push your whole foot downward too, and hold for 10 to 60 seconds.
These are completely opposite, so which one do you pick? You should hopefully receive a 'hint'; if your foot or one of your toes 'wants' to go down (i.e. the toes take on a life of their own!), that means you must pull the foot and toes UP. If on the other hand, the toes/foot 'wants' to go up, then push your foot and toes down.
If you're in a blind panic, and you're not sure whether to do (a) or (b), try (a) first (see diagram) as it appears to be more common.
The good news is that even if you're wrong, and it makes things suddenly very painful, that means you can do the other way (b) immediately, and still have a good chance of preventing any cramp. This guy
on Youtube has the right idea, so if you're not clear on any of the above, take a look, but also be aware that he doesn't mention that all this should be done when you feel any slight twinges/symptons to prevent
the cramp in the first place.
Of course. you don't have to stand up to do any of this (which will waste valuble time!), though if the cramp is severe, you may need the full force of your weight on it as was mentioned here
Also, I know many will be thinking "this won't help if you're asleep", and that's a fair point (though we often toss and turn when asleep to allow for blood circulation, so maybe one can train oneself to anticipate foot cramp, even when asleep?).
It's strange how some of the more painful conditions in the world are otherwise benign. Cluster headaches
are an extreme example of this, and can be described as a "red-hot poker inserted into the eye", or words to that effect. To quote Wikipedia:
"Cluster headache is probably the worst pain that humans experience. I know that’s quite a strong remark to make, but if you ask a cluster headache patient if they’ve had a worse experience, they’ll universally say they haven't."
An instant cure for that condition would be wonderful, but for now we'll concentrate on something far more common, and also very painful (usually without any long-term lasting damage) - leg or calf cramp - also known as "charlie horse". We'll focus on the nocturnal version of this, rather than during exercise (in which case, you probably won't go far wrong with this Youtube video
, but it's not an instant cure!).
Partial 'instant' solutions to leg cramp at night may involve pointing your toes/feet upwards, but as long as you're awake (or catch the first twitches early enough), there's a cure which works immediately for me every time, and seems to logically make sense.
SOLUTION: As soon as you move to a new position in bed (rotation, movement, *anything*), this often immediately triggers the first twinges in your calf/leg. What you now choose to do with the next half second of your time will determine whether you receive no pain at all, or alternatively, severe pain.
You must *immediately* restore yourself to the previous/old position. Example: You're lying on your stomach, and start to turn over (and maybe move one leg, and not the other), and start to feel the first signs; immediately, go back to lying on your stomach with your previous leg position as you were before. If you must turn over afterwards, wait a bit, and do so very slowly, especially if moving from (or to) any 'twisting position'.
Alternatively, if you are a masochist and enjoy the severe pain of leg cramp, ignore the above paragraph, and don't move back to your previous position.
Other potential instant fixes come from the comments on this long Youtube thread
"just when? u are about to feel it coming quicky stretch ur leg. stick it up and keep it straight. if ur too late then ur screwed"
"quick pain fix..stand up and put all ur weight on? leg thats cramped nd it goes away instantly!"
Heartburn / acid reflux
There's a popular site on the net called Earthclinic.com which is probably the number one site dedicated to er... natural folk remedies and 'holistic' cures. For all the noise in its message board system, it has at least one redeeming feature:- people try, almost at random, different foods/liquids to treat a particular health problem. From a rigid scientific perspective, at first it appears terribly messy, open to abuse, and unreliable. However, what it lacks in clinical precision, it more than makes up for in sheer numbers. So many people vote whether a particular remedy works or not, that you begin to see a statistical picture emerge from the noise and almost like magic, the best solutions can easily rise to the top.
So that's the site where our next piece of instant cure inspiration comes from. If we take a look at their Acid Reflux page, we can see that Apple Cider Vinegar is the most popular cure for heartburn. However, 'popular' does not mean best. To find something closer to 'best', we need to dig deeper and find the ratio of 'nays' to 'yays' that the site conveniently includes.
Although there are 305 "yea"s and only 18 "nay"s, there also are many "maybe"s, so let's split them in half and add them to both sides leaving:
Yea: 305+29 = 334
Nea: 18+29 = 47
...resulting in an 88% cure rate for Apple Cider Vinegar if we take things at face value.
It turns out that the less popular cure 'Pickle Juice' has 47 "yea"s, and 0 "no"s (100% success so far!!), so I'm going to stick my neck out, and say that:
Pickle Juice is the best cure for Heartburn (so far).
With that kind of evidence, it would seem to make Wikipedia's solution of: "H2 receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors" a little overkill? (unless those are meant for much more severe cases).
If the idea of drinking pickle juice makes you want to puke, then apples have an approximate 94% success rate subject to moderate margins of error (only 33 votes). For convenience, especially at night, apple juice also seems to be effective, and surely far far better than milk or water will ever be.
For long term solutions and if you're not happy with the above, you might want to make dietry changes or see your doctor (at least for more serious cases), but then those aren't instant solutions are they?
Content copyright 2011 onwards Daniel White.