Hiatal Hernia - Cause And Treatment

A hiatal hernia is most noticeable after a meal, when *heartburn and *belching occur. Often, a reflux of stomach fluid comes up the throat. Lying down after a meal aggravates the heartburn.

Hernias are the result of weakened connective tissue that allows a small part of the stomach to bulge through the diaphragm in and around the esophagus. If the valve between the esophagus and stomach becomes weak, it allows stomach acid to reflux through the esophagus, causing the burning sensation. Most hernias are so small that they produce no symptoms.


Hiatal hernia tends to occur in people over forty with weakened tissues. It is caused by a number of contributing factors related to eating habits and excess weight. Eating large meals or meals late in the day is a bad habit that puts pressure on the tissue. Heavy foods, rich in saturated fats, remain in the stomach for a long time. Deep-fried foods and commercial salad and frying oils are a real problem.

Missing in the diet are usually foods containing their natural fiber, especially raw foods and unbleached flour and rice. Substances which increase stomach acid are also a problem. These include alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and spicy foods. Also avoid swallowing air from eating too hastily.


To minimize the discomfort of a hiatal hernia, eat numerous light meals, chew food slowly and do not lie down directly after eating. Avoid refined food, junk food and all fatty fried food, which spend a long time in the stomach during digestion. Also avoid spicy foods, coffee, tea, colas and alcoholic beverages, which aggravate the symptoms of hiatal hernia by stimulating the production of stomach acid.

All bitter, green leafy vegetables like endive, lettuce and artichoke, prepared as a vegetable with boiled potatoes or eaten in a salad dressed with flax seed oil and lemon, will help relieve the symptoms of hiatal hernia. Flax seed oil contains essential fatty acids needed by the body for many metabolic functions. Also soothing are carrot and cabbage coleslaw made with natural yogurt or kefir. Fresh papaya is beneficial, since it contains a digestive enzyme which supports and accelerates the stomach’s digestive activity. Food allergens can aggravate symptoms of hiatal hernia, so an elimination diet will rule out these irritants.

Nutritional Supplements

When a hiatal hernia causes heartburn, supplements can be used to help improve digestion. However, a change of diet and eating habits is essential. Evening primrose oil is an excellent source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid, which is helpful for healing and good digestion. Most digestive enzyme supplements contain proteolytic and other enzymes which break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If stomach acid is excessive, avoid supplements containing hydrochloric acid. Other healing supplements include lecithin, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), bismuth, bentonite and Lactobacillus acidophilus.

Daily Dosages

  • Evening primrose oil, two 500 mg capsules three times daily

  • Digestive enzymes, such as bromelain, 1,000 mg three times daily

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus, 1-2 capsules or 1 tsp. daily

  • Lecithin, 2 capsules

  • PABA, 500 mg
  • Bentonite, 1 tsp. daily

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies work in conjunction with the body’s own healing resources to bring effective relief.

  • Drink aloe vera juice and red clover tea to heal the hernia.

  • Comfrey tea can be taken for short periods only.

  • For a healing effect, combine 2 tbsp. each of licorice root, slippery elm and burdock root, and 1 tsp. goldenseal. Make a tea with 1 tsp. of this mixture and drink 2-3 cups daily. It should be noted that long-term use of licorice can elevate blood pressure in some individuals, due to its glycyrrhetinic acid content. Use deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) instead.

  • Use borage and black currant oils as directed on the labels.

  • There is a four-herb combination available made of burdock, slippery elm, Turkish rhubarb and sheep sorrel which is beneficial to intestinal problems. It can be used alone, or with DGL or aloe vera juice.

  • Twice a week, add an oak bark infusion to bath water.


See *indigestion and heartburn to find an appropriate homeopathic remedy to suit the nature of your symptoms.

Tissue Salts

Take 4 tablets under the tongue every ten to fifteen minutes for acute problems. Otherwise take 4 tablets before meals daily for several days or one week if necessary.

  • Calc phos can help stimulate poor digestion when the least food causes pain, burning and *gas. Sour belching is somewhat relieving.

  • Nat phos is an excellent help for overacidic conditions, when sour liquid comes up from the stomach. An acidic taste lingers in the mouth and there can be a great deal of gas. Typically, a yellow coating develops on the back of the tongue.

  • Take Kali phos when gas develops under the heart, causing a feeling of anxious distress. *stress and emotional upset aggravate.

  • Mag phos is excellent for acute griping pains and burning, with a lot of gas and fullness. Warmth and bending double help.

  • Choose Kali sulph when there is pressure and fullness in the stomach. The tongue develops a yellow coating and there is an aversion to hot drinks. Cool, open air often relieves.
External/Physical Therapies
  • As a prevention, exercise regularly to strengthen, but not strain, the abdominal muscles and walls.

  • After surgery, massage abdomen regularly to strengthen the stomach muscles.
  • Work the reflexes of the stomach, pancreas, solar plexus, diaphragm and adrenal glands, as illustrated.
Available Brand Name Products: Nutritional Supplements
  • Ascorbate/Non-acidic Vitamin C (Ester-C)

  • Flax Oil (Flora)

  • Flax-O-Mega 1000 mg (Flora)

  • Frutin Antacid (Flora)

  • Udo’s Choice: Ultimate Oil Blend (Flora)

  • Udo’s Choice: Ultimate Oil Blend Capsules (Flora)

  • Green Kamut (Green Kamut)

  • Ester C - Caps, Tabs, Powder (Natural Factors)

  • Flax Seed Oil 1000 mg (Natural Factors)

  • Flax Seed Oil Liquid (Natural Factors)

  • Ultra Prim Evening Primrose Oil (Natural Factors)
Available Brand Name Products: Other Nutritional Supplements
  • Aloe Vera Gel (Nature’s Herbs)
Available Brand Name Products: Herbal Remedies
  • Salus Gallexier Herbal Bitters (Flora)

  • Red Clover Combination (Nature’s Herbs)

  • Licorice Phytosome (Nature’s Herbs)

  • Golden Seal Root (Nature’s Herbs)

  • Slippery Elm Bark (Nature’s Herbs)

  • Burdock (Nature’s Herbs)

Source: Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Siegfried Gursche and Zoltan Rona

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