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Healing the Gut

Searching For Truth: A Blog by Sherri Smith


According to recent reports published it is said that over 80% of the population in the West suffers, often unknowingly, from a Hiatal Hernia. What exactly is this condition and how do you recognize it?

Hiatal hernias occur when the muscles surrounding the diaphragm become weakened, allowing the upper part of the stomach to pass through the opening. If you have a hiatus hernia, you usually don’t have any symptoms unless the sphincter muscles around the lower end of the esophagus become weak. When this occurs, the valve between the stomach and esophagus (gullet) won’t stay closed, and stomach acids will spill into the esophagus. As a result, you may experience heartburn, sharp pain, regurgitation, belching, skin rashes, fatigue and sometimes bleeding. At night, you may experience coughing, breathlessness, or a choking sensation. After eating you will experience an excessively full feeling up towards your ribcage. Why this is so critical to our health is that it is the foundation of our digestive process. Until we can treat this, all other efforts to heal IBS, GERD, allergies or food sensitivities, colitis and a host of other gut issues will only partially be addressed.

The primary causes of a hiatal hernia is our lack of ability to breathe well, stress, bad foods and lack of exercise. The diaphragm, which is a huge muscle, is rarely completely contracted and relaxed. Without deep breathing, the rib cage, which is naturally squeezing the heart and lungs, becomes rigid and cage-like over time. So instead of the rib cage breathing and massaging the lungs, heart and diaphragm 26,000 breaths per day, it becomes a rigid cage constricting the diaphragm, and the diaphragm becomes tight.

Here is the problem: When a muscle is not being fully expanded and contracted it will not pump in adequate blood supply that is needed to keep the muscle supple, elastic and functional. Soon the muscle – in this case the diaphragm – loses adequate blood flow and begins to lay down a layer of protective tissue that does not require much blood flow. This is called scar tissue or fibrous tissue and it is sticky and non-elastic. When this happens, the stomach can be pulled up tightly to the diaphragm and even be pulled through the diaphragm, causing a hiatal hernia.

In some cases the stomach does not herniate through the diaphragm – it just adheres to it. In this case, the stomach which naturally hangs just underneath the diaphragm can begin to adhere to the underside of the diaphragm when the diaphragm is contracted. When the stomach adheres to the underside of the diaphragm it can cause symptoms of heartburn.

While this adhesion is not technically a hiatal hernia, it is way more common and often treatable with a visceral massage. Do this technique twice a day in morning and evening for two weeks until soreness in area goes away.

Self Hiatal Hernia or Heartburn Therapy

  1. Lie on your back and begin breathing slowly in and out through your nose.

  2. With your right hand, backed up with your left – drive your fingers up under the rib cage just to the left of center.

  3. Press in and try to gently wedge your fingers up under the rib cage during each exhale. Remember to exhale as you press your fingers up and under the rib cage as if you were going up to grab the stomach which is adhered to the diaphragm.

  4. During each inhale, as the rib cage moves up, pull the stomach – which you should have a fairly good grip on – down.

  5. With each exhale, dig in deeper to reach up and under the rib cage.

  6. With each inhale, pull down on the stomach, breaking the adhesion between the stomach and diaphragm.

  7. Do this for 5-10 breaths, then slide your hands to a new section under the rib cage and repeat for 5-10 more breaths. Do this in each section across the rib cage on both sides. While the stomach is only on the left side, working the right side can help decongest the bile ducts, which is also a common cause of heartburn.

Breathing Technique for Strengthening Diaphragm Muscles

This breath technique has a multitude of benefits but the primary focus is to strengthen the diaphragm muscles. Listed below are other key benefits:

  • cleans out stale, residual air in the lungs and saturates the cells with oxygen

  • purifies the body by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide and toxins

  • energizes, revitalizes and stimulates the entire system

  • creates mental clarity and alertness

  • gives a deep stimulating massage to the abdominal organs

  • strengthens the diaphragm, heart and entire nervous system

  • tones and strengthens abdominal muslces

Sitting upright, begin taking deep and expansive breaths into the lower abdomen. Focus on expanding area below navel. Inhale and exhale through the nostrils. Once you feel comfortable with the rhythm, take an expansive breath in and exhale sharply through the nostrils like a pumping action or similar to a dog panting. Try for 3-5 exhalations for each inhalation, pulling the stomach sharply in each time. Repeat by filling the abdomen with breath and exhalation sharply multiple times, increasing your count upwards to 20 exhalations per inhalation.


Sherri Smith from A State of Bliss has trained extensively and globally with ancient modalities and traditions to combine the wisdom these teachings into her own unique therapies. We are deeply connected to the natural world and many of the ills of society today are a result of our separation from this. Sherri's commitment to her own journey keep her immersed in teachings, experiences and advancement, in turn providing rich and rare content to her offerings. There is a yearning within each of us to live a greater life. Discover your power, your gifts and your truths.

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