I first developed what I thought was a small hiatal hernia when I was doing a lot of situps a few decades ago. I would have burping and pressure under my sternum and occasionally a very sharp pain in my left back at the level of my diaphragm and between my left neck and shoulder. My chiropractor confirmed a hiatal hernia and showed me how to pull my stomach back into position.
From that time on, I began doing the procedure on my patients and relieving a lot of distress. Children especially can develop a small hiatal hernia after a lot of coughing or vomiting leaving them with stomach pain and a finicky appetite.
A hiatal hernia is part of the stomach that pushes through a weak sphincter in the diaphragm beside the esophagus. If I had gone to a doctor I would have had barium x-rays to try to diagnose my pain. But the weight of the barium itself can push a hernia back into place making it hard to diagnose. Like too many things in medicine, doctors say the cause of hiatal hernia is unknown, even though they are very common, especially in people over 50 years old.
The symptoms are heartburn, chest pain, inability to take a deep breath, problems swallowing and the panicky feeling that there is something wrong with your heart!
I think hiatal hernias are common because we have so many digestive problems leading to gas and bloating, which can push the stomach up into a herniation. We are overweight, which pushes up on the stomach and we don’t exercise, which means our diaphragm doesn’t move with deep breathing which massages the stomach into place. And when we are under stress we hold our breath and breathe shallowly and therefore don’t properly massage our internal organs with the diaphragm.
Then there is magnesium deficiency! Yes, you thought this would be a magnesium-free blog, but there is no such thing in my world! If you’ve been coughing or vomiting or under a lot of stress, your stomach can go into spasm. Magnesium can relieve that stress, either taken by mouth or rubbing magnesium oil or cream on your stomach.
Besides being overweight and under stress, women during pregnancy are susceptible, as are people with constipation, all of which puts more pressure on the stomach.
There is no medical treatment for hiatus hernia and when it is very severe, surgery is offered. This operation is a last resort because of the many possible side effects including limited stomach capacity, severe discomfort when eating, and inability to vomit or belch normally.
However, there are natural treatments for this condition.
1. Avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol, which relax and weaken the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus.
2. Avoid sit-ups or do modified sit-ups. To do a modified sit-up, sit on a mat with your knees bent and back straight. Fold your arms over your chest, lean back a few inches, and sit up. Choose the number of repetitions that is best for you.
3. Do not lie down after a meal.
4. Do not drink liquids with meals.
5. In the morning, to settle the stomach in proper position, drink a glass of water, rise up on your toes, and then thump down on your heels about ten times.
6. Learn yogic breathing; when you inhale, let your abdomen rise so that your diaphragm falls. This opens up the lungs to full capacity and massages the stomach in place.
7. And the most important treatment is a traction massage on the abdomen to relax the stomach and ease it into its proper position.
I describe this in my book, Future Health Now Encyclopedia but since a picture is worth a thousand words I’m including a hiatal hernal self massage youtube by chiropractor, Dr. David Dahlman, which my 87-year old client in England found very helpful. It’s only 2:40 minutes long and can save you a world or suffering.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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