What is a hernia?
The text book definition of a hernia is “A bulging of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening”, occurring mostly in the intestinal region. However, this is not the definition of a hernia according to Holistic sciences. Ayurveda describes a hernia as a swelling of the intestine.
This swelling overtime causes the abdominal wall to weaken and eventually the intestine swells up so much that the weak abdominal wall cannot hold the pressure and gives in. That is why many renowned holistic practitioners regard all hernias are classified to be similar in nature.
They also say that Hernia is a lifestyle disease. This means that if you do not maintain a healthy lifestyle you are prone to developing a hernia. Statistics say 1 in 4 people will develop a hernia in their life. Unfortunately surgery is not the solution for hernia as in most cases the hernia relapses, or a new hernia develops, or there are other surgical complications because they do not address the swelling inside. In fact many doctors today are suggesting watchful waiting for hernias along with a healthy diet.
If you’ve had hernia surgery (along with millions of others that have this surgery annually) and are still suffering from pain, then you may need to learn more about what’s causing that pain. In this article we will try to explain why there is hernia pain and all the things you can do to get rid of that pain and help your hernia recover naturally.
Don’t take your health-care provider’s assumption that pain is just a “natural” part of post-op. It can be minimized greatly with some simple actions that you can take yourself. By educating yourself about the causes of your hernia, you can help your body heal from it, while minimizing the chance of recurrence at the same time.
Why Surgery Isn’t a Solution for A Hernia
First, you should know that surgery isn’t a solution for swelling. If you are dealing with pain caused by swelling from your surgery, it’s underlying cause is chronic inflammation.
Sure, there will be normal swelling as part of the natural response of your immune system to any perceived injury. This is how your body sends rich-oxygenated blood to deliver nutrients and remove wastes to a place in your body that has been infected with a disease, or that has been wounded. This is key for healing.
However, chronic inflammation depresses your body’s ability to heal.
Let’s examine how that happens in more detail.
Intestinal inflammation is caused by poor gut health. This inflammation of the gut is the same thing that happens elsewhere in the body when damaged cells release chemicals including histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandins. These substances cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling.
These chemicals increase blood flow That is what causes swelling. If you have a hernia, though, swelling is what causes your pain, so while your body may be trying to heal you, it is causing you a lot of distress in the process.
The first problem is the imbalance of your gut’s microbiota. These are the tiny microorganisms in the form of bacteria that live inside you. Some of them are good, and some of them are bad. Some help make vitamins, while others rob you of your ability to absorb nutrients from the foods or supplements that you ingest.
Our microbiota starts to form when we are just babies, and changes over time due to what we eat, chronic illness, stress, medicines we take like antibiotics or NSAIDS, and more. We can promote good bacteria colonization in our gut our make sure that bad bacteria set up shop, adding to the problem of chronic inflammation!
The Proper Diet
Swelling is how your body heals you, but constant swelling caused by chronic inflammation makes it nearly impossible for you to heal, and can even lead to further, serious health complications.
Let’s start with a few simple rules to reduce chronic inflammation:
- Eat as much plant-based fiber as you can every day. The fiber rich diet helps to move waste through your intestinal tract. It also helps to fill you up so that you don’t over eat, especially foods that have no nutritional value. Going vegan for a while may also help a lot.
- Add herbs and spices with anti-inflammatory properties. Certain herbs and spices particularly turmeric and ginger have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities. They can help to reduce inflammation caused by stress, poor diet choices, lack of exercise, and other lifestyle choices that may have contributed to your hernia. You can also try cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
- Remove high protein vegetables from every meal. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and mustard greens contain are high in protein and may cause inflammation.
- Get rid of all man-made fats and replace them with plant-based fats. Saturated fats can increase the risk of heart disease and many of them are highly processed. Healthy fats like Omega-3s and Omega-6s that are present in foods like avocados, Hemp seed flaxseed, and Camelina oil are much better for reducing inflammation in the body. They also provide energy to your cells, and nourish your skin, hair, and brain.
- Try to reduce processed and refined foods especially sugars and simple carbohydrates. These foods including high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugars found in thousands of foods that we purchase in our grocery stores feed bad bacteria in our guts.
- Eat small meals and add snacks.Eating too much at once strains your digestive system on many levels. When you over-eat, it makes it difficult for your body to properly break down foods, and assimilate nutrients. It also messes with food satiety hormones so you will wat more than you need to more often, leading to obesity and further chronic inflammation. The added pressure of a full stomach can also put unnecessary strain on a hernia. Try to eat four to five small meals or a few smaller meals with snacks throughout the day.
- Try intermittent fasting.Taking a break from eating altogether, even for part of a day, can help to reset your gut, reduce inflammation, and give your body a break from the constant work of digestion. This means that it has more energy to heal wounds (like those created in surgery) and get rid of toxic wastes.
Reduce Hernia Pain with Herbal Medicines
Finally, you can aid your recovery and reduce swelling permanently by reducing chronic inflammation with herbal, Ayurvedic medicines specifically designed to help treat hernia conditions.
Hernica and Acidim, two Ayurvedic herbal remedies were created by Grocare to help strengthen the intestinal walls, enhance digestion, reduce inflammation which causes swelling and thus reduce pain caused by a hernia. These medicines treat the body as a whole, instead of as mechanistic parts.
By promoting innate healing, these medicines can help to speed recovery post-op after a hernia surgery, and prevent future symptoms associated with hernia.
Hernica contains a proprietary blend of more than 12 different herbs, a few of them are:
Pongamia glabra which helps to relieve gas and bloating. It is also an intestinal stimulant that helps the body break down food stuff and absorb the nutrients it needs.
Cassia angustifolia to help treat constipation. Cassia angustifolia helps promotes peristalsis, or the regular contraction of the intestines to help healthy bowel movements. Those who suffer from hernia know just important it is to be “regular.” This herb ensures that you aren’t putting additional pressure on the abdominal wall with overstuffed, polluted bowels.
Holarrhena antidysenterica is an Ayurvedic herb with astringent, anti-dysenteric, and anthelmintic properties. It is a natural stomachic, febrifuge and tonic. It helps to remove bad bacteria and pathogens from the digestive system that might cause digestive upset.
Ferula asafetida is an herb which helps to strengthen the intestines. It promotes healthy digestion. It is also antispasmodic and carminative (helps to relive gas). It is also supportive to relieve constipation.
The second medication created by Grocare is Acidim. Acidim works in harmony with Hernica to further promote natural healing in the body, aid digestion, and prevent chronic inflammation which can lead to swelling and pain.
An additional 12 Ayurvedic herbs are combined to support the body’s healing. These herbs are:
- Ulcer protective
- Anti-hyperglycemic (supports better blood sugar levels for better gut health)
- Carminative (to protect gut health)
- Blood circulation promoting
- Anti-helmintic (kills parasites and harmful bacteria that can cause sugar cravings)
These medicines – Acidim and Hernica– combined with lowered stress, a proper diet, and restored gut health can drastically reduce inguinal hernia symptoms, including post-op swelling. They do so without putting you at risk for the complications of additional surgery.
In addition, if there are symptoms of deteriorated gut health – Xembran is recommended. It helps restores healthy microflora, kills off H. pylori and other pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the stomach that are directly linked to an increased incidence of hiatal hernia.
Xembran also increases your ability to digest food, while protecting the stomach and intestines from irritation caused by eating spicy foods, highly processed foods, stress, overuse of antibiotics, stomach infections, lack of exercise, and other environmental factors known to affect gut health.
Your hernia symptoms can be lessened with this knowledge and its application.
In closing, a natural approach to caring for your hernia after surgery is available to those looking for alternatives.
Using a hernia belt can also help. But this should only be done once the internal inflammation comes down or it can cause pain. If worn when the internal inflammation is there it can cause hernia pain or can cause another hernia to occur. Many bilateral inguinal hernias occur this way.
We spoke to Grocare about this, and they suggest that if the neck of the hernia is larger than 7mm, then wear a belt after the swelling has gone. Patients usually report reduction in swelling with their medicines after 3-4 months after which the belt can be worn to let the hernia heal. However, they stress a lot on a healthy low protein diet.
Regarding a belt, you will need to look to find one that fits you properly but they can help keep the hernia from pushing through the hole in the inguinal canal. If you find one you can wear all the time, with the exception of when you are in the shower, this can help keep the intestine in place and give the abdominal wall a chance to heal. If the intestines are coming out, then the wall cannot heal. Which is why in some cases a belt if needed.
Why You Should Pay Attention to Chronic Inflammation. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-you-should-pay-attention-to-chronic-inflammation/
TA, Ullman, et al. Intestinal Inflammation and Cancer. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21530747
Koh, Jung Hee, et al. Dysregulation of gut microbiota and chronic inflammatory disease: from epithelial defense to host immunity. Exp. Mol. Med. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5454447/
Wei, Marlynn, MD, JD. Harvard Health Publishing. Yoga could slow the harmful effects of stress and inflammation. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/yoga-could-slow-the-harmful-effects-of-stress-and-inflammation-2017101912588
Tolahunase, Madhuri, et al. Impact of Yoga and Meditation on Cellular Aging in Apparently Healthy Individuals: A Prospective, Open Label Single-Arm Exploratory Study. Oxid. Med Cell Longevity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5278216/