Hiatal hernia occurs where the stomach protrudes into the lower chest, worsening heartburn and weakening the esophageal sphincter.
Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia
Symptoms of hiatal hernia are distension, regurgitation, belching, pain, heartburn (which worsens when lying down or stooping), feeling of food ‘sticking in the gullet’. These symptoms may worsen when straining to stool.
Causes of Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernia may occur as a result of injury, dietary insufficiencies or excesses, constipation (where one often strains to stool), abdominal pressure and constant strong coughing. Hiatal hernia is more commonly seen in pregnant women, people over 50 years of age and individuals who are overweight.
Remedies for Hiatal Hernia
Foods to avoid:
- Alcohol, carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, tomatoes, garlic, onions, spicy foods, and spearmint are irritating to the esophagus.
- Coffee and chocolate relax the esophageal sphincter and increase the risk of reflux.
- High-fat foods worsen symptoms because they stay in the stomach longer and increase the time the esophagus is exposed to stomach acids.
- Avoid drinking water or other liquids with your meals.
- Avoid or minimize cream, butter, ice cream, gravy, oils, fried foods, sausage, and processed fatty meats and cream soups.
Foods to include:
- Drink caffeine-free herbal teas that contain chamomile, ginger, marshmallow, and slippery elm, herbs that are soothing and help relieve heartburn.
- Drinking fluids between meals rather than with meals will also help prevent reflux.
- Eat vegetables, non-citrus fruits, and green juices.
- Eat moderate meals instead of excessively large meals where you feel overly full, you should feel just satisfied at the end of the meal. The principle ‘chew’ your juices and ‘drink’ your solids apply here. Swish your juices around your mouth as if chewing before you swallow to get juices mixed with the saliva. Also, chew your solids thoroughly until they become liquid in your mouth. This will prevent excess production of stomach acid and is also less stressful to the esophageal sphincter.
- Don’t eat within three hours of bedtime.
- Don’t recline after eating, stay in an upright position to allow for proper digestion.
Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
- Lose excess weight by eating healthy and exercising regularly.
- Do not bend over, lie down, or exercise right after eating. Wait two hours after eating to exercise and three hours after eating before lying down.
- Do not wear tight belts or pants that are tight at the waist.
- Don’t smoke.
- Raise the head of your bed—use pillows or a block under the head of your bed. Keeping your head higher than your stomach will help prevent acids from refluxing.
- Reduction of weight favourably affects a sliding hiatus hernia. Relief from sleeping on the left side is supported.
- Practice yawning and relaxation techniques.
- Practice deep breathing exercises daily.
Exercises for Hiatal Hernia
These exercises may reduce the risk of developing hiatal hernia as well as relieve some symptoms:
1. Strengthen the Stomach Muscles – this exercise involves lying on the floor flat on your back and bending the knees, letting your feet touch the floor. Lift your lower back and buttocks off the floor, leaving your shoulders and feet on the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds. This is to be done several times for the day.
2. Strengthen the Diaphragm – this exercise that involves lying on your back with a pillow placed under your head and knees. Place one of your hands on your upper chest and your other hand below your rib cage and breathe in slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for a moment, then tighten your stomach muscles while you breathe out through your mouth.
3. Yoga Chair Pose – this exercise involves standing with your arms perpendicular to the ground, move your arms above your head and press your palms together. Exhale and press your knees, making your thighs parallel to the floor as possible. Stay in the position between 30 seconds to one minute.
4. Drop Down Exercise – this exercise involves first drinking a cup of warm or room temperature water first thing in the morning. After you have drunk the water, stand up straight lifting both arms, bending them at the elbows and bringing them to the chest. Stand on the tip your toes and then drop back heavily on the heels, repeat this several times. This exercise helps to push the stomach down back into position.
Fasting for Hiatal Hernia
Dr. Sebi was presented with a question on inguinal hernia and he suggested an individual fast along with taking the herbs in order to seriously address the issue, this recommendation could also be extended to hiatal hernia.
Fasting is one way to heal the body very quickly. There are various methods of fasting. If you are going to do water fasting for more than seven days, it is advised that you seek the assistance of a professional in this area. Otherwise, ‘fast’ with a combination of herbs, juices, and water. This is less rigorous than a water fast but it can be extremely effective at cleansing the body and correcting health issues.
Teas: Wood Betony. (Dr. John Clarke) To prevent reflux: Hops, Black Horehound, Meadowsweet; Day-starter: Chamomile tea; Fennel seed: Quarter of a teaspoon crushed seeds in cup boiling water.
Tone, cleanse and strengthen the GI (Gastro-intestinal track).
Herbal teas, tinctures, and formulas may be used to help cleanse, tone, strengthen and correct issues affecting the body, these are some you could use:
Herbal Formula (Dr Sebi’s):
Chelation 2: Cascara Sagrada, Prodijiosa, Pao Periera, Rhubarb. Dosage: 2 to 3 Capsules in the A.M. & P.M. (If you are not having regular bowel movement start with. Remove toxins, acids, and mucus. Increasing bowel movements to 3-6 times daily.)
Iron Plus: Elderberry, Chaparral, Blue Vervain, Hombre Grande, Palo Guaco, Bugleweed. Dosage: 2 Tbsp in AM and PM. It is designed to fight inflammation, purify and strengthen the entire system.
Bio Ferro (Capsules): Chaparral, Burdock, Nettle, Nopal, Yellowdock. 3 Capsules in the A.M. & P.M.
Herbal Formula (Dr Morse’s):
Stomach & Bowel #2: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Slippery Elm Bark, Gentian Root, Wild Yam Root, Plantain Leaf, Fennel Seed, White Oak Bark, Cape Aloe Leaf, Ginger Root. Acute: 3 Capsules‚ 3 times a day. Chronic: 2 Capsules‚ 3 times a day. (If you are not having regular bowel movement start with #2)
Cold water packs to upper abdomen.
- Iron phosphate herbal formula, seaweeds (sea moss, bladderwrack, kelp etc.) and shavegrass to oxygenate the blood and strengthen connective tissues.
- Bromelain and/or papain digestive enzymes, for a short period of time while you transition to a healthier lifestyle (if symptoms are severe after eating).
- Clear the bowels, you want to address any issues of constipation.
- Fast with juices and herbal formula for a minimum of 21 days OR
- Eat a healthy diet of fruits (note above), juices and herbs (herbal formula for calcium and connective tissue weaknesses and iron).
- Practice deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques daily (yoga, meditation, relaxation music etc.).
- Take note of the foods that will aggravate the symptoms (as noted above).
Following the steps outlined above could help in addressing hiatal hernia.
Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Thomas Bartram