If you're one of the many individuals who experience heartburn every day, your diet could be contributing to your symptoms. You might be surprised to learn that there's a relationship between cinnamon and acid reflux.
The most common symptom of heartburn or acid reflux is a burning sensation in the chest. This happens when acidic stomach contents back up into the esophagus. Some may experience heartburn when they consume popular spices, including combinations with cinnamon.
While there is no research indicating that cinnamon is a common irritant in those with heartburn, if you have found that cinnamon seems to aggravate your symptoms, it is perfectly reasonable to avoid it.
While cinnamon might not be identified as an irritant for people with acid reflux, each individual's triggers can be different.
Cinnamon and Acid Reflux
Cinnamon is a commonly used spice that has been used in ancient medicine as a medicinal herb, but the current research is inconclusive regarding its health benefits, according to an article published in the October 2013 issue of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
There are two main forms of cinnamon, cassia and Ceylon cinnamon, with cassia being the most common. While cinnamon may not be a widely implicated trigger, there is also no evidence to suggest that cinnamon is not a trigger for symptoms.
The March 2013 American College of Gastroenterology's Clinical Practice Guidelines do not recommend that those suffering from heartburn universally eliminate foods, but only avoid the foods that cause symptoms.
Identify Foods Containing Cinnamon
Usually found in baked goods, cereals and drinks, cinnamon is also an ingredient in certain types of alcohol and in Indian, Moroccan and Mexican cuisines. Rarely consumed alone, cinnamon is often combined with other spices and foods that may aggravate heartburn symptoms.
Cinnamon may be added to chocolate, a food that may loosen the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that keeps food from flowing back into the esophagus. It is important to realize personal tolerance to all foods, and to determine whether or not cinnamon may be causing symptoms.
Consider Your Whole Diet
Current recommendations to alleviate heartburn symptoms include avoiding fatty foods, spicy foods and alcohol, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Even if any of these types of dishes also contain cinnamon, it may be the overall makeup of a particular meal that causes heartburn symptoms.
For example, an Indian dish containing cinnamon may cause heartburn symptoms, however, cinnamon may not be the primary irritant, it may be paprika, black pepper or possibly the fat content — all of which can be aggravating factors.
Lifestyle recommendations to lessen symptoms include weight loss, smoking cessation and not lying down within two to three hours of eating, which includes all foods that may or may not contain cinnamon.
Read more: Is Too Much Cinnamon Bad for You?
Heed These Warnings and Precautions
Speak with a health care provider when considering any supplements, including cinnamon, as drug interactions are possible.
For example, cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, which is found in the blood-thinning agent warfarin, according to an article published in June 2012 by the Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science.
Cinnamon supplements have also been implicated in hepatitis when combined with statins, according to a case study published in April 2015 by the American Journal of Case Reports.
Is This an Emergency?
- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Medicinal Properties of ‘True’ Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): A Systematic Review"
- American College of Gastroenterology: "Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease"
- American Journal of Case Reports: "Do Cinnamon Supplements Cause Acute Hepatitis?"
- Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science: "Coumarin: Chemical and Pharmacological Profile"