Cinnamon sticks in a rustic bowl by The Healthy RD

Cinnamon for Acid Reflux? + Important Gut Facts

You may be wondering, “can I use cinnamon for acid reflux?”

Truthfully, it depends on a number of factors.

However, cinnamon may have other gut health benefits that are worth considering.

In this post, learn about cinnamon for acid reflux, indigestion, nausea, and candida. Also, learn about the benefits of cinnamon for diabetes and heart health.  Find out how to safely use and buy the most effective kinds of cinnamon for its health benefits.

Can I use cinnamon for acid reflux and indigestion?

There is no research that states specifically that cinnamon has a positive or negative effect when it comes to cinnamon and acid reflux.

However, some research suggests that cinnamon may help with a condition called functional dyspepsia. Also similar to indigestion, functional dyspepsia is defined as upper abdominal pain and discomfort that has no known cause. 

This condition is often misdiagnosed as acid reflux.

In a recent study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, people with functional dyspepsia received either a cinnamon gel cap or a placebo. Both the cinnamon group and the placebo group had less dyspepsia after 6 weeks than they did at the beginning of the study. However, the placebo is not considered truly a placebo because they used sesame oil. Sesame oil has its own set of benefits for gut health.

The group receiving cinnamon gel caps had less nausea than the placebo group as well in this study.

Another study found that a cinnamon mixture was as effective as simethicone for the treatment of functional dyspepsia symptoms.

Cinnamon may decrease gastric acid levels according to early research [R]. However, it may also decrease pepsin levels, which is an enzyme that helps to digest protein foods.

Keep in mind, some people feel like cinnamon makes their acid reflux worse. So it makes sense to avoid cinnamon if it makes you feel any symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Cinnamon may reduce nausea

Women who have abnormal menstrual cycles known as dysmenorrhea have less nausea and vomiting after they received a single dose of cinnamon capsule compared to a placebo. The cinnamon group also had less pain related to their periods compared to no cinnamon.

However, not a lot of research has been conducted to confirm the benefits of cinnamon for nausea in general.

Cinnamon for candida overgrowth

Candida is a normal type of yeast that is found in the digestive tract. However, candida can cause overgrowth in the gut or other tissue, which can result in a lot of digestive symptoms.

Cinnamon can reduce the growth of candida, at least in early studies. It also reduces the growth of other harmful types of fungi.

Adding cinnamon to your diet is tasty anyway, so it can’t hurt to add some Ceylon cinnamon if you struggle with dysbiosis such as candida.

Related post The Best Probiotic for Candida in 2021 (thehealthyrd.com)

Cinnamon has antimicrobial effects

One benefit of cinnamon for the gut is that it has strong antimicrobial effects. It can even reduce the growth of some types of harmful bacteria such as E. coli. All told, around 30 studies have found that cinnamon has antimicrobial properties.

These include antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic effects, related to Ceylon cinnamon [R]. 

Keep in mind, these studies are conducted in test tubes and animals, not in humans at this point, so more research is needed to determine cinnamon’s benefits as an antimicrobial.

Cinnamon reduces inflammation

Inflammation in the gut is harmful, so cinnamon may help reduce digestive distress related to inflammation.

For example, two studies show that cinnamon may help improve markers of inflammation (R, R).

It may also improve muscle soreness due to inflammation in athletes (R).

Cinnamon may even reduce pain and abnormal menstrual cycles associated with inflammatory prostaglandins (R, R).

Is cinnamon good for constipation?

Cinnamon is thought to help increase the muscle movements of the intestinal wall. This is an important action for having normal bowel movements.

Irritable bowel syndrome often causes constipation-dominant symptoms.

One study determined whether a blend of herbs and spices that included a mixture of cinnamon, bilberry fruit, slippery elm bark, and agrimony could help people with IBS-constipation dominant symptoms. The result of this blend was an increased frequency of bowel movements after receiving this blend. They also had a reduction in straining, abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence.

While these results can’t say whether or not cinnamon alone is helpful for constipation, it certainly may help. More research is needed in this area.

Other benefits of cinnamon

Like many spices and herbs, cinnamon has a lot of other benefits for health. These include heart health benefits and reducing diabetes symptoms.

Cinnamon for diabetes

Cinnamon is a natural spice with an amazing flavor. Could it also reduce the long-term damages of diabetes too? A huge body of research points to the fact that spices like cinnamon have amazing health benefits for reducing diabetes complications.

Type 2 Diabetes often causes damage to most tissues in the body over time and increases the risk of most other chronic diseases.

Diabetes would be great if it was just about blood sugar, but it isn’t.

High insulin levels, inflammation, altered fat metabolism are lingering behind the scenes as well, causing damage.

Luckily, cinnamon helps with many facets of inflammation, metabolism, and blood sugar management.

Cinnamon may help improve insulin sensitivity, possibly even for 12 hours after taking it.  This is because it may improve insulin signaling in cells (R, R).

Does cinnamon reduce blood glucose?

Cinnamon may improve glucose levels between 18-29% after supplementation (R).

This powerful spice may even help those with poor glycemic control, but it has a more modest effect on these people.  It has a 10% improvement in glucose according to research [R].

Even in healthy, lean men, cinnamon reduces total plasma glucose after an oral glucose tolerance test, as well as improved insulin sensitivity [R].

One study did not find benefit from cinnamon on blood glucose for postmenopausal women with diabetes, but the study only supplemented for a very short duration (6 weeks). Cassia cinnamon was used in this case. (R).

A recent study also failed to show any benefit of cinnamon in diabetes patients over an 8 week period (although did approach statistical significance [R].

A 16-week study proved more beneficial.

This study found that cinnamon reduced markers of diabetes and diabetes risk factors, including blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C, waist size, BMI, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and HDL cholesterol when compared to placebo(R).

Other benefits of cinnamon for diabetes

  1. May slow down carbohydrate absorption by inhibiting pancreatic enzyme release. This, in turn, may reduce the blood sugar spike related to carbohydrates [R, R]
  2. Regulates genes associated with insulin sensitivity and fat storage [R]
  3. May help fight candida, a type of fungal infection. Diabetes puts people at-risk of increase candida infections [R, R]
  4. Acts as an insulin mimetic, which means it allows glucose into the cell similarly to insulin [R]
  5. May improve feelings of fullness from food (satiety) with additive benefits of vinegar [R]

Benefits of cinnamon for heart health

A large study called a meta-analysis concluded that cinnamon helps lower triglycerides and total cholesterol, and the benefit was related to the duration of taking cinnamon.

This study included at least two types of cinnamon, including Cassia (R).

Some research additionally finds cassia cinnamon helpful in reducing LDL-cholesterol in addition to triglycerides and total cholesterol [R]. 

History of cinnamon

Cinnamon is no stranger to health claims.  It has been used as part of treating infections, stomach and lung ailments, and more as far back as history can track(R).

The few rich people who could afford it in ancient times even used it for embalming in ancient Egypt because it is a great preservative.

It was highly prized, even more so than gold, and used as gifts for monarchs.

Cinnamon is native to India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh.

Types of cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon, preferred for its safety, is referred to as “true” cinnamon (R). This type of cinnamon is also a bit more expensive than other kinds of cinnamon.

You should know that the most common culinary variety available in the United States is not true cinnamon but is Cassia cinnamon.

These two types of cinnamon are used most often in research too: Ceylon (Cinnamomum verum) and Cassia cinnamon.

Ceylon is the best variety to use in supplemental doses.

If you are confused by a cinnamon label, don’t worry.  If it doesn’t say Ceylon, it may not be the type you want. It is probably cassia.  Make sure to scroll to the bottom to find out about the dangers of cassia cinnamon.

Keep in mind, many of the studies that I will present to you did not specify the type of cinnamon used. Some did use cassia, the more risky kind of cinnamon, and didn’t see harmful effects.

Safety of cinnamon 

The more expensive variety of cinnamon known as Ceylon cinnamon is the safest variety due to its lowest coumarin content.

Coumarin, present in Cassia cinnamon, is a natural substance but can be toxic at higher levels of intake.

Ceylon cinnamon has the lowest levels of coumarin with below 190 mg/kg (some samples were below detection levels) (R).

On the other hand, Cassia cinnamon contains between 700 mg/kg to upwards of 12,230 mg per kg, but it is quite variable depending on the source.

Keep in mind, using Cassia cinnamon is still likely safe at doses used in foods as demonstrated by numerous clinical studies that use it.  Just don’t eat Cassia cinnamon it by the heaping spoonfuls.

To be safe, try to stick to using true cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon whenever possible.

Also, if you are sensitive to cinnamon or allergic to it, you should avoid it. 

Cinnamon dosing

Most research trials have used supplemental dosing of 1-6 grams per day. Effectiveness appears to be good at the lower end of dosing levels.

Using cinnamon In cooking

The biggest problem with finding cinnamon-rich recipes is that they often are loaded with sugar!  

Chef Tip: Cinnamon can replace sugar because of its natural sweetness: use it to sweeten coffee instead of sugar or add it to teas.

You can add cinnamon to recipes to cut back or replace the sugar content.

Here are a few savory or no-added-sugar cinnamon options.

  • Try this curry and cinnamon chicken recipe
  • Mix cinnamon and almond or peanut butter: perfect on apples or carrots, celery etc.
  • “Sweet” Fruit and Veggie Dip recipe
  • Add 1- 2 tsp. of cinnamon to oatmeal instead of sugar
  • Cinnamon-Lemon Chicken recipe
  • Spicy Broccoli Soup recipe

Summary

Using cinnamon as part of a healthy diet may indeed help digestive health, including many aspects of chronic disease. 

Ceylon is the best choice of cinnamon, but you can likely safely use Cassia cinnamon as well for optimizing health. 

As with anything, check with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle routine. 

Disclaimer: The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique. So you must seek care from your own dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.

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