Dyspepsia, including heartburn, chronic stomachache and pain, difficulty swallowing, abdominal inflammation, ulcer, gastrointestinal bleeding, reflux (especially when reclining and often with pain), fibrositis, and sometimes stricture of esophagus.

What is Hiatal Hernia?

From Modern Western Medicine

Hiatal hernia occurs when the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and pushes up against the chest wall. In some cases, supportive garments are used to push the stomach back into correct position. However, if there is considerable pain and the stomach cannot be replaced behind the diaphragm, surgery is required.

From Traditional Medicine

Hiatal hernia is uncommon in underdeveloped nations where people subsist on traditional grain-based diets and have active lifestyles. Overweight and overeating are the major causes of hiatal hernia. Large meals slow stomach and intestinal transit time; food tends to sit for prolonged periods in the stomach, causing the organ to become distended and bloated. At the same time, qi is blocked to the stomach and along the stomach meridian, diminishing the life force flowing to the organ. If these conditions persist, the stomach becomes stretched and swollen. Eventually, it can lose its integrity and push its way through the muscular diaphragm. In addition to the size of the meals and their overall weight, hiatal hernia is promoted by diets that are rich in animal protein. Protein is digested primarily in the stomach. The more animal tissue and protein consumed, the harder the stomach must work to break down the sinewy mass of animal flesh and its protein constituents. These foods contribute to distention, bloating, and swelling that eventually cause the stomach to violate the diaphragm. Finally, highly refined foods, along with high-protein diets, contribute to an increase in stomach acids that reflux into the esophagus, a common symptom of hernia.



Foods to Eat

  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Seaweeds
  • Vegetables


Foods to Avoid

  • Sweets, especially chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods


Herbs to Treat Hiatal Hernia

  • Comfrey: decoction (root), simmer 30 minutes and take 3 oz. frequently
  • Goldenseal: tincture, 20 – 90 drops, three times daily, decoction, simmer 15 – 30 minutes and take 1 – 2 tsp., three to six times a day
  • Slippery elm: tincture, 15 – 30 drops, three to four times per day; decoction, simmer whole bark 5 – 15 minutes and take 3 oz., three or four times per day


Chinese Medicine

A good cure for hernia is fennel congee. Cook rice and water in a covered pot 4 to 6 hours on warm, or use lowest flame possible; a crockpot works very well. Add a few grains of salt. Use too much water rather than too little. The longer the congee cooks, the more powerful it becomes. Add fennel to taste. This soup is easily digested and assimilated, tonifies the blood and qi energy, harmonizes digestion, and is demulcent, cooling, and nourishing. Since rice will strengthen the spleen and pancreas, any food added to it will be more completely assimilated and its properties enhanced.


  • Beta-carotene: 6 – 30 mg per day
  • Thiamine (B1): 1.5 mg per day
  • Vitamin C: 100 – 500 mg per day
  • Vitamin E: 100 – 400 IU per day