A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes upward through your diaphragm. Usually a hiatal hernia is small enough you don’t notice symptoms. However, a larger hiatal hernia will typically be symptomatic. Heartburn and sometimes vomiting, for example, can be hiatal hernia symptoms. Other hiatal hernia symptoms include difficulty swallowing and chest pain. (1) But a hiatal hernia treatment method may help manage symptoms. For instance, a hiatal hernia diet can help to manage heartburn. There is a wealth of foods to eat as well as to avoid on a hiatal hernia diet. Traditional hiatal hernia treatment includes antacids and other medications. Furthermore, surgery to correct the problem can also be a hiatal hernia treatment method. (2) But to help combat hiatal hernia symptoms, consider trying one of the natural hiatal hernia treatment methods listed below.
But first, here are some of the common symptoms of a hiatal hernia: (3)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Feeling especially full after meals
- Vomiting blood or passing black stools, which may point to gastrointestinal bleeding
Here are 5 natural treatments for hiatal hernias:
1. Treat Symptoms By Consuming A Healthy Diet
A poor diet can lead to an overactive immune system, which can contribute to a variety of painful symptoms. If you’ve been diagnosed with hiatal hernia, cut down on the following foods and beverages:
- Too much caffeine
- Carbonated beverages, sugary drinks or energy drinks
- Artificial sweeteners
- Fried, greasy or very fatty foods
- Refined vegetable oils, including canola oil
- Spicy foods
- Chocolate and cocoa
- Citrus fruits, garlic, onions and tomatoes
- Processed foods and those very high in sodium or synthetic additives
While you’re cutting down on foods that can make your symptoms worse, remember to eat plenty of foods that can help improve your condition. (4)
For example, try the following:
- Fresh organic vegetables (in particular, leafy greens, squash, artichoke, asparagus and cucumbers)
- Probiotic foods like kefir
- Fruits (depending on how well you tolerate them) like berries and melon
- Healthy fats like coconut or olive oil
- Herbs like parsley, ginger, and fennel.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Aloe vera gel
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese can add pressure on the valves and sphincter that releases stomach acid. Furthermore, obesity is linked with low levels of stomach acid. (5) To help your body function as it should, try to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
3. Change Your Sleep Position
Since lying down right after you eat can worsen symptoms, try to not go to bed for several hours after your last meal. However, you should also avoid being completely stationary. Stay upright, but move around. When you do go to bed, choosing the right position can help manage symptoms as well.
For example, you might try sleeping at a slight incline. Either use a bigger or more pillows, or raise the head of your bed with lifters or blocks. (6) If you have a hard time sleeping in general, try exercising more during the day. It may help you sleep better. Furthermore, exercise has several benefits for digestive health, such as decreasing inflammation.
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking cigarettes can wreak havoc on your digestive system. For example, it increases inflammation and impairs muscle reflexes that are crucial for controlling release of digestive contents. Furthermore, smoking may also increase production of stomach acid. If you’re suffering from acid reflux, avoid smoking. (7)
5. Practice Mindful Eating & Manage Stress
When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to overeat or skip meals. If you can learn to be mindful of your eating, you can help slow down symptoms of indigestion. Eat several smaller meals during the day, and eat slowly. Furthermore, manage your stress by taking up stress-reducing activities. You might try meditation, reading, exercise, or spending more time in nature.