Q&A: Hiatal Hernia Solutions & Best Natural Alternatives to Traditional Medications
Dear Dr. Susan,
I recently got examined by my doctor with a scope to check my esophagus for damage from acid reflux, and they found a small sliding hiatal hernia. My doctor says that it's causing my acid reflux and I should get it surgically repaired. What do you think? —Marquette
When you have a sliding hiatal hernia, your esophagus and stomach slide upward, popping the top of your stomach partway through the hiatus (hole) in your diaphragm. Scientists used to believe this causes acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), because 80 to 94 percent of GERD sufferers have hernias.
But it's actually the other way around: GERD is a cause of hiatal hernias, which come and go to compensate for changes in pressure and which rarely cause any symptoms.
Let's take a closer look at how hiatal hernias happen and discuss natural therapies that are far more beneficial.
(If you do have acid reflux you may need to also supplement your diet with relaxing herbs like this one.)
The Push—Pull Factor
By triggering neuromuscular responses, acid reflux sets the stage for hiatal hernia because it causes the muscles of the hiatus to relax, making it easier for the stomach to shrug through; it slows the stomach's ability to empty normally, causing bloating and increased abdominal pressure, and pushing the stomach upward; and it burns the upper stomach and lower esophagus, causing their muscles to clench, which shortens the esophagus and pulls the stomach upward.
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Because GERD is a chemical process, surgery won't help. And, it certainly isn't going to safely prevent a hiatal hernia if the push-pull that triggers herniation is still in force. Besides, being able to slide around a bit gives your stomach a relatively safe way to deal with increased abdominal pressure from diet, lifestyle, and other external factors.
The mainstream medical community attacks the GERD/hiatal hernia syndrome with acid-blocking medications and surgery, both of which have side effects and complications.
► Mix 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate in a glass of water and drink it 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you go to bed. Repeat this upon waking.
► Chew two dried figs at night. They quickly absorb excess acid and swell slightly. Because they can be kept for some weeks you may want to try a bigger bag, like the ones here. Then before breakfast, chew a handful of dry puffed rice. It quickly absorbs excess acid that accumulated during the night.
After breakfast, drink 4 ounces of aloe vera juice, which you can find at any health food store or try this preservative free organic aloe vera juice on Amazon
► Change your diet to emphasize naturally alkalinizing, soothing, healing foods, including root vegetables (squash, turnips, rutabaga, beets, and yams); leafy green vegetables; brassica vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts; whole grains; and legumes.
Also, replace saturated and trans fats with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids like eating wild caught salmon. Or try a supplement to boost your Omega-3 fatty acid intake.
► Practice stress reduction daily, such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or the grounding techniques. Read my post on grounding and recharging to reduce stress which also aggravate your digestive system.
Meditate on Scripture To Help Yourself Relax
I like to meditate on Scripture every day, especially like the ones below:
Job 27: 3
As long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils,
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
► Stay away from "hot" spices, including ginger and all kinds of pepper, as well as coffee, wine, and sugary, sour, and salty foods.
► Don't smoke! As if smoking wasn't dangerous enough, the nicotine in cigarettes is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the diaphragm's hiatal muscles, encouraging herniation.
► Take these cooling, soothing herbal supplements: cooling herbals commonly prescribed for GERD and hiatal hernia include licorice root, cardamom, cumin, coriander, and fennel.
PS: If you are serious about alkalinizing your body more, do follow my blog or get more information here. And also you can read articles on my blog like this one to help you get started in your journey to having a healthier acid-alkaline balance.
Good luck, Marquette! Thanks for your question.
PS: Look out for my new eating program and cookbook with recipes for a more low acid diet in major e-retailers.
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