Hiatal hernia is a very common disease, especially in people who are above the age of 60. Hiatal hernia originates in the chest area and then disturbs the entire digestive system. It starts from the diaphragm and travels down to the stomach which lies right under it. When it occurs, the lower esophageal sphincter does not shut down properly. Therefore, the stomach contents flow back towards the esophagus or gut. This process is also known as acid reflux or GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) in severe cases.
What Is A Hiatal Hernia?
Food enters the mouth and goes to the stomach via a path called the esophagus. The diaphragm is an important organ that helps with breathing and lies between the lungs and stomach. The esophagus passes through a hole in the diaphragm called the esophageal hiatus.
A hiatal hernia is a condition where the upper part of the stomach, located just below the diaphragm, protrudes through the esophageal hiatus and rests within the chest. Other hernias can happen in the abdomen, upper thigh, belly button or in the groin but the bulging tissue is in your stomach and diaphragm in this specific type of hernia.
A hiatal hernia can be extremely painful because the stomach keeps pushing on the diaphragm muscle. In order to manage a hiatal hernia, we need to address the cause of the hernia which is the inflammation of the intestines and pH imbalance.
What Causes Hiatal Hernia?
The most common cause of a hiatal hernia is an increase of pressure in the abdominal cavity. (The abdomen consists of the lower part of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and bladder). This pressure can occur due to coughing, vomiting, straining during a bowel movement, heavy weight lifting and physical strain. Pregnancy, obesity or extra fluid accumulation in the abdomen can also lead the situation to a hiatal hernia.
Types of Hiatal Hernia :
Sliding hiatal hernia: This type of hiatal hernia is the most common. Your stomach and esophagus slide in and out of your chest through the esophageal hiatus. These are usually small and don’t cause noticeable symptoms. Therefore, there is no need for treatment of this type of hernia.
Fixed hiatal hernia: This type of hernia is also known as a Paraesophageal hernia and is not that common. In a fixed hernia, part of your stomach pushes through the diaphragm and stays there. This hernia has a risk that blood flows to your stomach could create a blockage there. If it happens, the patient’s condition becomes very critical and it is considered a medical emergency.
What Not To Do :
There are certain home remedies that have no significant clinical evidence to support that they are effective in the treatment of hiatal hernia. Below is a list of home remedies that potentially do more harm than good in the long run:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Slippery elm
One remedy which actually makes a difference is aloe vera. However, aloe vera is not a solution. It will control the symptoms to a certain extent but it cannot be a standalone treatment.
Many medical practitioners prescribe proton pump inhibitors to treat hiatus hernias. These may not be totally effective for the hernia because the basic function of these drugs is to reduce the acid production in the stomach for relief of acid reflux symptoms. However, you have to take these medicines daily for years and symptoms can reoccur if you stop consuming these drugs. Additionally, the US FDA suggests no more than a 15 day course of any antibiotic drug for a maximum of 3 times a year. The following is a partial list of the most commonly known side effects:
- Red patches or hives on skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Stomach pain
- Bloating and gas
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Surgical Procedures
Sometimes, hiatal hernia is treated with the help of a minor surgery. The surgeon does this process to put the stomach back into its place, to correct the hernia. Surgery is usually reserved for patients who develop complications such as recurrent bleeding, ulcerations or strictures. However, there is another less invasive way to fix this problem with ayurvedic oral medication
Surgical Procedures :
Hiatal hernias are sometimes treated with surgery. The surgeon attempts to pull the stomach back into the abdomen, correcting the hernia. Surgery is usually reserved for patients who develop complications, such as recurrent bleeding, ulcerations, or strictures. However, there is another less invasive way to fix this problem.
Traditional Line of Treatment For Hiatal Hernia:
If you are diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, via a doctor’s visit and subsequent endoscopic exploration, then you may be prescribed pharmaceutical medications. These can have mild to severe side effects or complications.
Medical practitioners usually prescribe proton pump inhibitors and antibiotics as a first line treatment of hiatal hernia. The FDA has issued several warnings that proton pump inhibitors should not be used for more than 14 days, 3 times a year as these medications can lead to osteoporosis and other side effects.
Antibiotics are used so often that they are becoming ineffective at eradicating bacteria. Many patients report recurring symptoms after treatment of H. pylori with antibiotics, while test results remain negative.
Hiatal Hernia Treatment Without Surgery:
We are going to discuss an advanced ayurvedic hernia kit by Grocare, which is becoming very popular these days. Patients who have used these supplements experienced significant improvement in their health. The symptoms and pain decreased to a great extent within a short amount of time.
In order to manage hiatal hernia, we have to address its underlying cause. The pH imbalance and inflammation of the digestive system is what we need to target. Xembran®, Hernica® and Acidim® have been especially effective in hiatal hernia.
Let’s take a brief look on the active ingredients of these ayurvedic formulas individually to better understand their activities.
The active ingredients are:
Pongamia glabra: this plant has a chemical substance known as karanjin and some other essential oils in it. All of these constituents have strong anti-inflammatory and healing effects. This plant also provides a great relief from hernia pain and also helps to repair the damaged layer by working as a rejuvenating agent.
Cassia angustifolia: This plant contains 2 main glycosides called sennosides A and B. These glycosides work as laxatives and purgatives. They treat the digestion problems such as gas, constipation, bloating and keep the gut free of food irritants to avoid food allergies and other complications.
Holarrhena antidysenterica: It is a potent antispasmodic agent and used to relax the smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. This plant is also used as a digestive aid to treat problems such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating and colic. All these mentioned problems worsen the hernia symptoms therefore; it is given to patients to avoid these complications.
Ferula asafoetida: This plant has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used as a treatment for chronic patients suffering from Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. It helps to decrease the inflammation plus pain in gastrointestinal tract and stomach in patients of hiatal hernia. It also works as an antispasmodic agent and emmenagogue.
Some other active ingredients are also present in this formula to enhance the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effect of it.
The main active ingredients in this are the following:
Ipomea turpethum: This plant tends to have laxative and cathartic properties. Therefore, used as a digestive aid in people who suffer with irritable bowel disease (IBD) and different hernias.
Eugenia cryophyllata: This is also known as clove and used as a condiment often especially in Asian countries. It possesses some essential oils such as eugenol, caryophyllene, kaempferol, tannins, flavonoids and vitamin A and C. These all are very effective antioxidants plus analgesics and used prevent and treat digestive health issues. These essential oils may also help to rejuvenate the tissue to repair the hernia if its size is small.
Cyperus rotundus: This plant also has antioxidant properties which give a protective effect to the abdominal lining to repair hernia and other stomach issues.
Emblica ribes: This is also known as false black pepper and has potent anti-bacterial, anti-flatulence and antiprotozoal activities. Therefore, it is included in this formula to treat digestive ailments such as gas, bloating, inflammation which may worsen the hernia symptoms.
The active ingredients in this medicine are following:
Shankha bhasma: It is a great anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, antispasmodic agent and used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). It also reduces the pain related to hiatal hernia in patients and gives a soothing effect.
Myristica fragrans: It is a great anti-inflammatory, pain relieving (analgesic) remedy if you are suffering from a stomach ache and hiatal hernia pain. The chemical constituents in are myristicin, elemicin and safrole. These all are potent analgesics and contain anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, relieve stomach pain and stimulate internal organ health. It is used as a carminative to aid digestion problems in chronic patients.
Zingiber officinale: It is a natural anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agent. Therefore, is used to treat several digestion problems such as stomach infections and pain. Zingiber officinale also possess a miraculous natural healing effect. This is the reason that it is used as a remedy to treat internal injuries and internal bleedings from centuries.
Some other constituents are also present in this medicine in small concentrations.
As a result of using this kit, the stress and inflammation of the stomach and other organs is reduced over time. The stomach is able to slowly return back to its position, healing the hiatal hernia. As the kit addresses the root cause of the hernia, chances of recurrence are minimal. This kit is equally effective for post-surgical complications
Preventive Measures To Reduce The Risk of Hiatal Hernia:
You may not be able to avoid a hiatal hernia entirely, but you can avoid making a hernia worse by taking these preventive measures.
- Losing excess weight
- Not straining during bowel movements
- Getting help when lifting heavy objects
- Avoiding tight belts and certain abdominal exercises
Lifestyle Changes To Reduce The Risk of Hiatal Hernia:
Hiatal hernias usually do not cause any significant problems in most people. Therefore, rarely need any treatment. However, many patients of hiatal hernia suffer with GERD symptoms and their treatment starts with management of these symptoms by different methods. Such as lifestyle modifications and diet control.
The first target of treatment is to prevent the refluxing of acid into the esophagus. Doctors recommend lifestyle changes for those with hiatus hernia and suggest these following things:
- Eliminate or quit such foods that cause stomach upset. As with symptoms, such foods cause allergies among individuals
- Try to make a habit of eating more compliant foods such as, aloe juice, yogurt, artichokes, almond milk, green beans, fermented foods, leafy green vegetables and herbal teas
- Eat small portions and more frequent meals to lessen the degree of stomach distension, to reduce the upward pressure
- Do squats instead of bending
- Maintain an average weight
- Lose some weight if you are obese
- Keep the pillow of the bed elevated about six inches while sleeping, all serve to reduce pressure on the diaphragm
- Smoking cessation is also important for reducing symptoms of hiatal hernia, as studies point to relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter due to smoking
- Patients should avoid lying down or sleeping right after eating and refrain from eating within 2 to 3 hours before bedtime
- The second object of treatment is to reduce stomach acid so that the situation is less irritating if acid reflux does happen. This is achieved by avoiding long periods without food in the stomach
- Avoid high fat foods and those drugs that stimulate acid secretion, such as aspirin and alcohol. If you eat something like that accidently then take appropriate medication right in time to save yourself from discomfort and pain
However, if there is no visible significance of trying to manage hernia with only dietary and lifestyle change then the second choice is to put the patient on some sort of drugs or surgery. This way, patients’ medical condition can be stopped at a stable point to avoid further damage to his/her health.
About the Author:
Christina Sarich is a Nasik, India Yoga Vidya Dham trained yoga teacher and prolific health writer. Her work has been quoted by Jesse Ventura in American Conspiracies, and by PhDs like Jamie Marich, PhD, LPCC-S, in Dancing Mindfulness: A Creative Path to Healing and Transformation, Dr. Gregory A. Smith of the feature film American Addict fame, and tweeted by the likes of Russell Brand (the wonderfully goofy actor/comedian who talks about enlightenment all the time). Christina’s writings appear at the Cuyamugua Institute, as well as in Nexis and Weston A. Price magazines. She’s also ghost written books on curing cancer without chemo, brain hacking, habit formation, nutrition, yoga, positive psychology, brain entrainment with binaural beats, and meditation. Work under her own name has been featured at over 3,000 different alternative-health and consciousness-raising websites over the past decade including: The Sedona Journal, The Mind Unleashed, Collective Evolution, Natural Society, Healthy Holistic Living, Common Dreams, Higher Density, Transcend, Atlantis Rising Magazine, Permaculture News, Grain.org, GMOInside.org, Global Research, AgroLiving, GreenAmerica.org, Global Justice Ecology Project, EcoWatch, Montana Organic Association, The Westreich Foundation, Ascension Now, The Healers Journal, Doctor Maggie, Higher-Perspective, Shift Frequency, One Radio Network, David Icke, Transcend.org, Saviors of Earth, New Earth, Food Revolution, Oases Network, Activist Post, InfoWars, Truth Theory, Waking Times, New Agora, Healers of the Light, Food Revolution, and many more.
Dr. Maithili Rembhotkar -
She is a registered Doctor and have a bachelors degree in Ayurveda (B.A.M.S.) from Bharatiya Vidyapeeth College of Pharmacy. She has been seeing patients since passing out of college and have seen over thousands of patients in just 2 years of practice. She is extremely passionate about Ayurveda and the possibilities it offers. There is very little information on this science on the internet and she hopes her insight will offer a new perspective on this.