An inguinal hernia, the projection of intra-abdominal fat or part of the small intestine through the inguinal canal, can be effectively treated using traditional Chinese medicinal practices. Licensed traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have effectively treated individuals suffering the lower abdominal hernia through acupuncture and moxibustion treatments and through the use of herbal remedies.

Cause of Inguinal Hernia

"Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medication can effectively and noninvasively treat both direct and indirect inguinal hernias," according to Vanessa King, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), an inguinal hernia is a disorder of the liver and Ren (receptive) channels, which show symptomatic signs in the inguinal and genital region on the front of the body. Symptoms include pain in the inguinal region and bulging of the underlying tissue through the abdominal wall.

TCM describes the three main causes of inguinal hernia as stagnation of qi--energy flow through the body--in the liver channel, cold in the liver channel or deficiency of the spleen.

Seeking Consultation

Before Chinese medicinal practices can aid in effectively treating early stage hernias, prior consultation from a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist is highly recommended, according to Maureen McLaughlin, Clinical Dean. Individual diagnosis is crucial for treating client specific hernias as well as working collaboratively with a patient's physician.

Acupuncture Treatment

Treatment for inguinal hernias with acupuncture involves inserting and manipulating small needles into the lower abdominal region to relieve pain and aid in invigorating the flow of qi in the liver channel. Local, indirect moxibustion (the burning of mugwart herb) is used for distal acupuncture on points mainly on the liver and spleen channels.

Moxa is wrapped around the tip of the needle already inserted into an acupoint and retained. The tip of the needle is lit, causing heat to be generated and applied to the point and surrounding body area. The moxa is then extinguished and the needle removed after the desired result is reached.

The other indirect moxibustion treatment includes using a lit moxa stick (no needles) and holding it close to the hernia target points until the area turns red.

Herbal Remedy Treatment

Chinese medicine, through the use of traditional herbs, can help facilitate the moving of liver qi, the warming of channels and the tonifying--a therapeutic treatment that nourishes and replenishes the qi, blood, yin and yang--of the spleen as necessary.

King recommends inguinal hernias be treated topically, smoothing pain and warming the stagnate channels, using the following herbal remedy: 60g Xiang Fu (nut grass rhizome) mixed with 1/3 the amount of rock salt. Dry fry the two together until warm, wrap in a cheesecloth and place on the affected area for 20 minutes a day.

Purchasing Chinese Herbs

A licensed TCM herbalist typically prescribes both patented and raw herbs. Xiang Fu and other herbs can be prescribed by a licensed practitioner or found at a recommended retail dispensary.

Herbal substitutes are offered as nutritional support and have not been evaluated by the FDA.