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Hernia is a lifestyle disease that occurs due to a bulging or protrusion of an organ or tissue through a defective opening in the surrounding walls. One of the most apparent characteristics of hernia is a visible lump or bulge on the affected region. Different types of hernias are categorised based on the part of the body affected, namely- inguinal, femoral, umbilical or hiatal hernia. Most commonly, a hernia is seen to affect the abdominal wall in the inguinal region. A weakened abdominal wall caused by swelling results in the abnormal protrusion of soft tissue or part of the intestine through the wall, especially on coughing, bending over or lifting heavy objects.

Ayurvedic doctors prescribe taila (oil) application and pinda sweda (hot fomentation) for the treatment of hernia. A combination of herbal medicine, dietary modifications, maintenance of optimal gut health along with stress reduction is recommended for the treatment of hernia. Herbs such as karanja (Indian beech), senna, kutaja (kurchi) and hingu (asafoetida) aid in relieving the symptoms of hernia. Apart from herbs, specific treatment procedures like virechana (purgation), snehana (oleation) and basti (medicated enema) are also beneficial in the treatment of hernia. Although immediate hospitalisation may not always be required, surgical intervention is essential for the complete cure of hernia. One should follow a proper diet in order to reduce chronic inflammation after surgery. This includes eating plant-based fibre, replacing trans fats with plant-based fats, eating small meals, and avoiding refined and processed food.

  1. Ayurvedic view of hernia
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for hernia
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for hernia
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for hernia patient as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for hernia
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for hernia
  7. Takeaway
Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Hernia

Ayurveda describes hernia as a swelling of the intestine, or antra vriddhi. It is caused by a number of lifestyle factors such as increased vata due to improper food intake, bathing in cold water, lifting heavy weights, long-distance running, premature release of or suppression of natural urges such as urine or faeces. The increased vata, then weakens the intestine and pulls it down, resulting in an inguinal hernia. It protrudes through the inguinal canal into the scrotum in males, whereas in females, it occurs as a glandular mass beneath the inguinal ligament. Swelling is often the consequence of a neglected hernia. Hiatal hernia is a type of hernia that occurs in the region of the navel and is usually seen in weak children.

Hernia treatment involves procedures such as virechana, snehana, niruha basti (a type of basti), and topical application of medicines along with oral intake of herbs. Herbal treatment addresses poor gut health and aids in removing all bacteria and pathogens, thus strengthening intestines and promoting healthy digestion.

  • Snehana
    • In this procedure, warm, medicinal or essential oils are massaged on the body to remove and dislodge toxins from the body channels.
    • Tila oil (sesame oil) or ghee (clarified butter) may be used to treat the increase in vata associated with hernia while mustard oil, canola oil or flaxseed oil are used in case of kapha dosha.
    • This therapy is done every day for an average of 3 to 7 days.
  • Virechana
    • Virechana is most effective in the removal of excess pitta from gallbladder, liver and small intestine.
    • Herbs like amlaparni (rhubarb), senna, triphala (a combination of amalaki [Indian gooseberry], vibhitaki [belleric myrobalan] and haritaki [chebulic myrobalan]), trikatu (a combination of the three acids – pippali [long pepper], shunthi [dried ginger] and maricha [black pepper]) are used to induce purgation in order to treat swelling caused by kapha dosha. Hot, salty and oily purgatives like rock salt, isabgol (psllyium husk) and ginger may be used to eliminate vata dosha.
    • Light food is given after purgation in order to fire up digestion. It is necessary to strengthen a person with oleation after the procedure.
    • A feeling of lightness, a calm mind and the downward movement of gas is experienced after virechana.
  • Niruha basti
    • Niruha basti, also known as asthapana basti, is a procedure involving the administration of a herbal decoction enema mixed with milk and a little oil. This treatment is highly beneficial for an enlarged scrotum, severe vata disorders and weak tissues.
    • This procedure heals and rejuvenates the whole body by cleansing and toning the intestinal musculature.
    • It treats the entire colon by flushing faeces from the system as well as ama (toxins) from the tissues.
    • After this procedure, one should have a wholesome diet for at least double the number of days taken for basti therapy.
  • Pinda sweda
    • In this procedure oil is applied to the affected part, followed by fomentation with a poultice made of hot rice paste.
    • It is the most useful therapy in healing muscular atrophy.

Ayurvedic herbs for hernia

  • Hingu
    • Hingu is used to improve digestion.
    • Ayurveda describes hingu as having deepana (hunger-increasing) properties.
    • Gum resin obtained from the rhizome and root of asafoetida plant is antispasmodic, carminative (relieves flatulence), expectorant (expels phlegm) and laxative (regulates bowel movements) in nature, and is thus helpful in relieving symptoms of hernia.
    • It is considered to be one of the best herbs for treating vata disorders, for relieving abdominal distension, cramping, pain and gas.
    • It strengthens intestines and relieves constipation, which is a common complaint in hernia.
  • Kutaja
    • This Ayurvedic herb has been indicated in a number of diseases because of its astringent, anti-dysenteric and anthelminthic properties.
    • Its increases appetite and assists in digestion thereby helping heal hernia.
    • In addition, it removes harmful bacteria or pathogen from the gut that may lead to upset digestion.
  • Senna
    • This herb ensures healthy bowel movements by promoting peristalsis and regular contraction of the intestinal muscles.
    • It also addresses the problem of constipation associated with hernia.
    • Senna relieves the excess pressure on abdominal walls caused by overstuffed bowels, by regulating bowel movements.
  • Manjishtha (Indian madder)
    • Administered in the form of a decoction, powder, paste or ghee, the root of manjishtha is best known for its benefits in blood purification.
    • It is effective in treating tumours and kapha disorders associated with swelling and is, therefore, useful in the treatment of hernia.
    • It also aids in tissue healing, thus improving post-operative management.
  • Karanja
    • Karanja aids in digestion by stimulating intestines, ensuring the breakdown of food and absorption of necessary nutrients.
    • It also helps to treat bloating by relieving stomach gas.

Ayurvedic medicines for hernia

  • Triphala guggulu
    • Triphala guggulu contains triphala, trikatu, and guggulu (Indian bdellium tree) as its major constituents.
    • Triphala formulations work as a digestive, mild laxative, bowel tonic, purgative, carminative, expectorant and antispasmodic. Together, these properties improve the symptoms of hernia and aid in healing.
    • Triphala guggulu also has analgesic properties and is useful in the management of post-operative pain after hernia surgery.
  • Gandhak rasayana
    • This formulation consists of shuddha gandhak (purified brimstone) along with dalchini (cinnamon), haritaki and nagakesara (Indian rose chestnut).
    • It cleanses rakta dhatu and regulates the metabolic fire of all dhatus and is especially useful in cases of chronic vitiation of doshas and dhatus.
    • Gandhak rasayana is known to pacify vata and pitta doshas. It increases pachana (digestion) and has deepana properties, thus aiding in digestion and reducing excess pressure on the intestinal musculature.
    • Gandhak rasayana has analgesic properties and helps in the management of post-operative pain after hernia surgery.

Do’s

  • Add herbs and spices with anti-inflammatory and vata-pacifying properties in your diet.
  • Intermittent fasting is encouraged.
  • It is recommended that you include plant-based fibre in your diet.
  • It is advised to eat four to five small meals or a few smaller meals with snacks throughout the day.
  • Substances like rasonam (garlic), karavellaka (bitter gourd), horseradish and small cucumbers should be added to the diet.

Don’ts

  • Certain food items like legumes should be avoided.
  • Medicines with tikta (bitter), katu (pungent), kashaya (astringent), ruksha (dry) and guru (heavy) properties are also contraindicated in case of hernia.
  • High-protein food items should be strictly avoided as they can lead to inflammation.
  • Sugars and simple carbohydrates that feed on the bacterial flora in the gut should not be consumed in excess.
  • Avoid over-eating which could cause unnecessary strain on the hernia.

A clinical study that was conducted to compare the efficacy of postoperative analgesia achieved by triphala guggulu (450 mg) and gandhak rasayana (250 mg) to that of diclofenac, a conventional post-operative analgesic and antibiotic. In a group of 30 patients, who were divided into control groups (diclofenac) and trial groups (ayurvedic medicine), adequate pain relief was reported by the Ayurvedic combination. It was further indicated that Ayurvedic medicines are more cost-effective and have pain-relieving effects comparable to that of conventional medicine. 

Another clinical study reports the use of the herb, nagajivha (Indian whitehead), for the treatment of hernia. The whole plant is dried, powdered and administered with honey. Nagajivha is a bitter tonic and an appetiser. It assists in digestion and also works as a laxative. The study reports no ill effects such as nausea, headache or ringing ears associated with this herb.

A clinical trial was conducted to assess the effectiveness of suture materials prepared from the herb sana (smooth rattlepod) in operated cases of inguinal hernia. The study included 22 patients, divided into a control group and trial group and it reports that suture prepared from sana fibres proved to be acceptable with regard to parameters like reducing oedema, restoration of daily activities and external wound closure. It was concluded that sana sutures can be used as a safe alternative to cotton thread suture material.

Although Ayurvedic  medicines do not have any specific side effects, treatment procedures should be performed with all the necessary precautions. A remedy that works for one person might not have the same affect on another individual with a different prakriti.

  • Hingu is contraindicated in people who meditate or perform yoga. It is also known to aggravate bile or acid conditions.
  • Since manjishtha may worsen vata, it should be avoided in case of severe chills.
  • Snehana is not recommended in those who have very weak or very strong digestion, those who suffer from diarrhoea, obesity or stiff thighs.
  • Before virechana is performed, one should be examined for specific symptoms like recent fevers, poor digestion, hardened faeces and weakness. The procedure is performed with extra caution in all of these cases.
  • Niruha basti is not recommended in babies, in cases of diarrhoea, colon cancerdiabetes, diverticulitis, polyps and rectal bleeding.

Therefore, it is advised that you consult your doctor before taking any of the abovementioned medications or treatments.

Hernia is a lifestyle disease that is commonly seen in people who are involved in lifting heavy objects or who take long-distance walks regularly. Although surgery is necessary for the complete cure of hernia, it is not the only line of treatment. The increased vata and kapha dosha observed in hernia require specific attention and care. Ayurveda suggests a holistic approach to this disease with herbs, medicines, lifestyle and diet modifications along with specific treatment procedures to strengthen body tissues. It is recommended that you consult your Ayurvedic physician for safe and complete treatment of hernia.

Dr. Gurpreet Virmani

Dr. Gurpreet Virmani

Ayurveda
1 Years of Experience

Dr. Shradha Chaubey

Dr. Shradha Chaubey

Ayurveda
4 Years of Experience

Dr. Sunil Kilaniya

Dr. Sunil Kilaniya

Ayurveda
3 Years of Experience

Dr. Tanushri Yeole

Dr. Tanushri Yeole

Ayurveda

References

  1. Jagatheesan Alagesan, Suthakar Venkatachalam, Anandbabu Ramadass, Sankar B Mani. Effect of yoga therapy in reversible inguinal hernia: A quasi experimental study. Int J Yoga. 2012 Jan-Jun; 5(1): 16–20, PMID: 22346061.
  2. Department of Health & Human Services. Hernias. Victoria, Australia [Internet].
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Hernia
  4. National Institute of Indian Medical Heritage (NIIMH). Āntra-VṛDdhi. Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS); Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India.
  5. Bhushan Patwardhan. Bridging Ayurveda with evidence-based scientific approaches in medicine. EPMA J. 2014; 5(1): 19, PMID: 25395997.
  6. Poonam Mahendra, Shradha Bisht. Ferula asafoetida: Traditional uses and pharmacological activity. Pharmacogn Rev. 2012 Jul-Dec; 6(12): 141–146, PMID: 23055640.
  7. Rajiv Gandhi Government Post Graduate Ayurvedic College. Kayachikitsa. Paprola, Himachal Pradesh. [Internet].
  8. Christine Tara Peterson, Kate Denniston, Deepak Chopra. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Aug 1; 23(8): 607–614, PMID: 28696777.
  9. Sudccp, Murlidhara Sharma. S~A - A Suturing Material In Operated Cases Of Inguinal Hernia - An Evaluation. Aryavaidyan Vol. XXVII., No.3, Feb. - Apr. 2014, Pages 137 - 144.
  10. Zaheer Zahid et al. Phytochemical Screening of plant of Enicostemma Axillare. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy, 2(1), Jan - Feb 2011 175- 176.

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