Hiatal Hernia
By Steven Horne, RH (AHG)

An Invisible Plague, a malady that perplexes its sufferers!

"The symptoms were so deceiving that even I, who have trained myself to be on constant alert for this syndrome, was misled," wrote Dr. Theodore Baroody in his book on the hiatal hernia, after treating more than 5,000 patients with symptoms of this disease (Hiatal Hernia Syndrome, Waynesville, North
Carolina: Eclectic Press, 1990) p. 7.


The hernia is a protrusion of an organ or part of an organ or other structure that pushes through the wall of the cavity that normally contains the organ or structure. The hiatal hernia is the part of the stomach that pushes upward through the opening in the diaphragm (or hiatus) through which the esophagus passes, thus protruding into the chest cavity. This occurs because the diaphragm muscle is weak, stretched or torn, allowing the top of the stomach to bulge through this hole and become pinched. This is similar to in abdominal hernia, common to athletes and people who lift heavy objects where the intestines may bulge through torn muscles covering the front of the abdomen or the muscle floor of the crotch.

Hiatal hernia, a treatable condition, may cause digestive, respiratory and circulatory problems as well as glandular imbalances and nervous disorders. This condition needs your attention until the weak or torn muscle is strengthened once again, and the stomach is back in its proper place.

Common symptoms include belching, bloating, sensitivity at the waist, intestinal gas, hiccups, nausea, difficulty breathing deeply , fatigue, tendency to swallow air, full feeling at the base of the throat, constant feeling of a "lump in the in throat", dry and tickling cough, pain or burning in upper chest, heartburn, peptic ulcer, gall bladder attack, rapid heartbeat, shoulder pain, headaches, anxiety attacks, mental confusion, hoarseness, obesity, urinary difficulties and hyperactivity in children.

This is not a complete list of symptoms but illustrates the many manifestations of the hiatal hernia that may deceive doctors. To increase the uncertainty surrounding this ailment, the hiatal hernia accompanies other diseases. In fact, Dr. J Richardson and Steven Horne, both master herbalists and iridologists, report that they have never consulted with anyone having a serious chronic or degenerative disease who has not had a problem with the hiatal hernia.

Since other health problems can also cause many of these symptoms, avoid drawing premature conclusions about your own condition. If you have any of the symptoms of the hiatal hernia, consult your health care practitioner.

What Causes the Hiatal Hernia?

The most common cause of hiatal hernia is increased abdominal pressure that leaves a part of the body weak, typically following unusual stress or strain. For example, a weakness following a debilitating illness that results in excessive coughing can cause the diaphragm to weaken by increasing pressure on the abdomen, resulting in an hiata hernia. Another example, straining to lift heavy objects, especially when bending over, can cause hiatal hernia as the pressure on the stomac forces it up through the hole in the diaphragm that is only supposed to the accommodate the esophagus tube.

Contributing Causes
Lack of exercise, lack of trace minerals and other essential nutrients can contribute to the hiatal hernia. Overeating, poor food combinations and frequent gas and indigestion would increase the chance of getting the hiatal hernia by increasing the pressure upwards against the diaphragm. Over time obesity causes the abdomen to sag and will tend to displase various organs, including the stomach. In addition, poor ileocecal valve closure (where the small intestine cnnnects to the large) creates bloating in the intestines and interferes with digestion, which continues to compound the problem.

For some people this bulging of the stomach through the diaphragm may occur only when they lie down after a big meal. Stomach acid may burn the end of the esophagus tube and seem like heartburn. Over time the acid will cause scarring and often disable the sphincter which acts as a protective gate to the stomach. This might result in difficulty swallowing. Food from the stomach may back up into the esophagus, causing more damage if the food has been mixed with hydrochloric acid, a powerful acid made by the stomach to digest protein.

Another primary cause of hiata hernia is stress. Stress causes a tense reflex action that pulls the stomach up tight against the diaphragm. You may have experienced this feeling during an adrenaline rush. Whenever you experience sudden fear or panic you will draw in your stomach and breathe at the top of your lungs instead of your abdomen. Likewise, suppressed anger and frustration and other stressful emotions create tension throughout the torso, which may lead to hiatal hernia syndrome.

Checking how you breathe is a common test for hiatal hernia. If you don't know whether your stress level is manageable, do this test. Observe whether most of your breathing is from heaving your chest up-and-down or the normal abdominal in-and-out motion of relaxed breathing. If breathing seems taxing to you, refer to the following list of other conditions that are similar to the hiatal hernia to see if these situations apply to you.

Other Conditions that Masquerade as Hiatal Hernia

Heart failure mimics hiatal hernia, since both conditions share symptoms, such as pain and pressure in the chest, nausea, mental confusion and dizziness. Congestive heart failure the most common type of heart failure, occurs when the heart becomes enlarged, blood flow decreases, fluid builds up and pools in the lungs and other organs. Thus, the heart beat weakens and finally stops. If you are experiencing symptoms common to hiatal hernia syndrome and heart attack, contact a medical doctor immediately.

Enlarged organs, such as a swollen liver or spleen, cause displacement that pushes the stomach upward. To check for this condition, press up under the rib cage on each side with your fingers to see if these areas are painful. Consult your health care practitioner if you feel pain in this area.

Food Poisoning, nausea, bloating, weakness and more serious symptoms needing professional attention are sometimes hard to resolve. Large amounts of Activated Charcoal help to absorb poisons in cases of food poisoning. And this treatment will not harm the hiatal hernia if your suspicions about food poisoning are wrong.

How to Self-freat Hiatal Hernia
First steps in hiatal hernia relief

Check your breathing. Follow this simple test to access your pattern of breathing as a first step in treating the hiatal hernia. Put your hand on your abdomen as you breathe. If your abdomen moves in and out more than your chest, you are probably handling your stress well, or at least, you are not letting stress you. If you are breathing from the top of your lungs, just sit back and relax to allow your breathing apparatus to revert to normal abdominal breathing. If it doesn't, then look for other causes of your symptoms, such as the conditions described above.

Relax the diaphragm. So you can breache more easily, use lobelia essence (best choice), Stress-J (especially combined with Intestinal Soothe & Build), or Nutri-Calm. Nutri-Calm a combination of vitamins and minerals, relaxes the nerves, especially the vagus nerve, which may be irritated due to the pinching of the stomach that results from hiatal hernia. This nerve affects many other organs to which it is connected. This is why hiatal hernia problems are related to the health of the heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, liver, gall bladder, pancreas and indirectly, the kidneys.

Find healthy ways to vent your repressed anger and frustration.
This will help defuse much of your hiatal hernia problem. To relieve tension, for example, take a long, slow deep breath and feel the tension build up in your diaphragm (like you are sartingt to get angry). Make your hands into fists and raise them up in front of you as if you want to punch somebody. Exhale forcefully with an angry "huh!" sound while shaking your fists downward like you want to hit somebody.
Do this several times, safely discharging your inner tension and frustrations.

Other methods of dealing with stress include changing your environment, finding new ways to resolve problems and communicating your thoughts and feelings honestly with others.

Bathing with herbs. Add a strong tea of a relaxing herb (catnip, rosemary or lavender) to the bath water for stress relief. Have a family member massage your neck and shoulders.

Use manual manipulation. Several harbalists including Steven Horne recommend drinking a pint of warm water first thing in the morning. Next, stand on your toes and drop suddenly to your heels several times. The force of this little jump and the weight of the water help pull the stomach down in place while the warm temperature of the water relaxes the stomach area. Taking a dropperful of lobelia essence with the water will relaxe the stomach and make the treatment more effective.

If you are adventurous, jump off a chair or down a short flight of stairs to get the same effect. The idea behind this technique is to get your stomach to "drop" as if you were in an elevator that suddenly started going down. If this doesn't solve the problem, place both hands under your breastbone in the center of your ribcage. Take a deep breath, press your fingers firmly into the solar plexus area (just under the breastbone). As you forcefully exhale, push your fingers downward and bend forward slightly. Be careful not to push your fingers up under the ribcage. Repeat this action several times. Do this before meals on an empty stomach.

While performing physical therapies, visualize what you wish your body to do as additional reinforcement. Concentrate on a visual image of your stomach in its correct position as you push your stomach back down. (For a visual demo of this procedure, watch Steven Horne's video on muscle testing and body work below)



If you feel uncomfortable doing this yourself or do not get the desired results, find a chiropractor or massage therapist who knows how to work with the hiatal hernia.

Repair muscle tissue. In order to strengthen the diaphragm, certain vitamins and minerals are crucial. Beneficial nutritional elements include B-Complex (especially B6) vitamins, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which help "glue" tissue together and keep the tissue from tearing apart. In addition, Skeletal Strength and HSN-W contain important minerals (like silicon and manganese) to rebuild the muscles. Manganese may be very important for healing any kind of hernia, and red raspberry is an excellent aid to muscle repair.

Some people have found a fiber diet (or supplements like Psyllium hulls, Nature's Three or LOCLO is helpful in treatmg hiatal hernias along with other digestive aids like PDA, Food Enzymes, Liquid Chlorophyll, White oak bark (to encourage tissue to come back together), taken along with other astringent (tightening and toning) herbs like bayberry and red raspberry leaves.

To help remove any scarring of the sphincter muscle, which is located at the end of the esophagus, vitamin E and lecithin help the body repair the tissue damaged by stomach acid. However, a scar is a temporary repair that will remain permanently if nutrition remains low or stresses are too high, thereby diverting nutrients that could mend the damaged area because of higher demand for these nutrients elsewhere in the body.

To treat hiatal hernia syndrome that is accompanied by heartburn, use slippery elm powder mixed with a little juice or water, whole leaf aloe vera juice or Vitamin Calcium w/Magnesium instead of antacids. If you continue to get acid in your throat, sleep with your head and chest slightly elavated. Elevate your pillow to raise your head and chest.

Hiatal Hernia - Self adjustment (watch the video below)