Cinnamon has been used to cure problems digestive problems since ancient times, yet many people say that cinnamon tea gives them acid reflux. Let’s look at the science to find out, “Is cinnamon tea good for acid reflux?”
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is the burning sensation you feel in your chest due to stomach acid coming up out of your stomach past a weak lower esophageal sphincter muscle back up into your throat. The burning sensation is the acid irritating the inflamed lining of your esophagus or food pipe.
In normal circumstances, your lower esophageal sphincter muscle is a one-way valve that allows food into your stomach and should stop food coming back up.
Foods that loosen your lower esophageal sphincter muscle include:
- spicy foods like chilli powder, hot spices, red pepper, black pepper and tabasco sauce
- acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomato sauce and orange juice
- fried and fatty foods
- fresh garlic
Other reasons for a weak lower esophageal sphincter include regularly overeating, and certain medications such as:
- blood pressure medication
- pain killers
- allergy medication
- asthma medication
Symptoms of acid reflux
- heartburn or chest pain that might feel like a heart attack given its proximity to your heart
- burning sensation in your chest
- sore throat
- stomach cramps (often associated with h. pylori bacteria)
- difficulty swallowing
- hoarse voice
If acid reflux is left untreated, over time, you may get gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barret’s esophagus, and esophageal cancer in rare cases.
What is cinnamon?
The history of cinnamon can be traced back to 2800BC, when the Romans used it to treat problems in the digestive tract.
Today, cinnamon is a popular spice found in most households and is used as a flavoring for curries, baked goods, cereals, and drinks. It is widely used in Indian, Mexican, and Moroccan cuisines.
Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. As the cinnamon bark dries, it curls into rolls to form cinnamon sticks or quills. Cinnamon bark can then be ground into powder.
Types of cinnamon
You can buy various types of cinnamon, with the most common varieties described in the table below:
|True Cinnamon |
or Ceylon Cinnamon
or Mexican Cinnamon
|Indonesian Cinnamon||Vietnamese Cinnamon||Cassia Cinnamon |
or Dutch Cinnamon
|Scientific Name||Cinnamomum zeylanicum||Cinnamomum burmanni||Cinnamomum lourei||Cinnamomum aromaticum|
|Country of Origin||Sri Lanka||Indonesia||Vietnam||China|
|Taste||Slightly sweet||Spicy||Spicy and sweet||Spicy but bitter|
|Colour||Light to medium red-brown||Dark red-brown||Dark red-brown||Dark red-brown|
|Cinnamon bark or|
|Softer, lighter, rolled in layers||Darker, hard, hollow, |
rolled in one layer
|Darker, hard, hollow, |
rolled in one layer
|Darker, hard, hollow, |
rolled in one layer
|Special features||Harder to find|
Lowest coumarin content
|Most common variety|
The most common type of cinnamon is cassia cinnamon, and it’s widely available in grocery stores. You can often buy true cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon in health food stores, and its available for purchase online.
Most varieties have a high coumarin content, which can cause liver damage in high doses (1). If you’re consuming cinnamon in regular amounts in your food, it is unlikely you would be exposed to too much.
But if you are using cinnamon as alternative medicine, the best way is to use Ceylon cinnamon as it contains the lowest coumarin content.
Health benefits of cinnamon
Cinnamon is known for its many health benefits. The unmistakable smell and flavor of cinnamon are due to its essential oil, which is a phenolic compound that’s very high in cinnamaldehyde.
This compound is thought to be responsible for the health benefits of cinnamon:
- anti-inflammatory properties
- lowers blood sugar levels
- helps regulate insulin levels
- lowers blood pressure
- reduce risk of heart disease
- can help with weight loss
- improves brain function and may help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- anti cancer properties (2)
Is Cinnamon Tea Good For Acid Reflux?
There is no scientific evidence to prove whether or not cinnamon tea is good for acid reflux.
Some anecdotal reports show that cinnamon, especially when consumed in high doses, may cause acid reflux or heartburn. On the other hand, others report cinnamon helps indigestion, stomach cramps, gas, nausea, diarrhea, and acid reflux.
There are so many things that could be causing your acid reflux symptoms. And personal tolerance to common acid reflux trigger foods differs from person to person.
The best way to know if cinnamon tea gives you acid reflux is to try it yourself.
Given spicy foods are a common acid reflux trigger, if you get acid reflux from common cassia cinnamon, you may want to try Ceylon cinnamon, as the flavor isn’t as strong and spicy.
Why cinnamon tea is good for acid reflux
If cinnamon tea doesn’t give you acid reflux, it may be a good idea to drink it in moderation for its health benefits. The following health benefits of cinnamon are particularly useful in treating heartburn and acid reflux.
Lower blood sugar levels
People that suffer from acid reflux often have high blood sugar levels due to poor diet. There have been many small trials of patients with diabetes to determine the effects of cinnamon on lowering blood sugar levels. Some results are conflicting, but researchers think cinnamon probably has a positive impact. More research is needed in this area.
High blood sugar levels are associated with reduced muscular contractions in your digestive system, so food takes longer to be digested, too much acid is produced, and your lower esophageal sphincter muscle loosens. And this leads to acid reflux (3).
Normal blood sugar levels can help your digestive system process food at a normal rate, therefore you should have less digestive problems.
Suppose you don’t have high blood sugar levels. In that case, you should seek medical advice before using cinnamon as a natural remedy for heartburn or before drinking cinnamon tea on a regular basis. Consuming cinnamon in normal quantities in your food should be OK.
Cinnamon water extract and cinnamon essential oil have both been shown to have excellent anti-inflammatory properties (4). Researchers concluded that cinnamon has good natural health benefits when testing was done in a laboratory.
Acid reflux and gastrointestinal reflux disease are associated with inflammation of the digestive tract. So cinnamon can help reduce inflammation, which will promote normal digestive system functions. And if your digestive system is working correctly, you’ll experience fewer acid reflux symptoms.
While cinnamon tea cannot be solely responsible for proper hydration, it can contribute. Water from your food and drinks dilutes stomach acid, which helps prevent reflux.
How much cinnamon is safe to consume?
If you consume cinnamon in normal amounts, you’re not likely to see health benefits, but neither should you see any harmful side effects.
If you drink cinnamon tea every day, it’s a good idea to choose Ceylon cinnamon as it contains the least coumarin, which is toxic in high doses.
There hasn’t been enough research to determine a safe amount to consume, but experts suggest 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2-4 grams) of cinnamon powder per day is the maximum. However, some studies have used 1-6 grams of cinnamon.
The suggested dosage equates to a maximum of 1 cup of cinnamon tea a day.
If you’re going to try cinnamon supplements, again, Ceylon cinnamon is your best option.
How to know if cinnamon gives you acid reflux
You rarely eat cinnamon by itself unless you’re drinking cinnamon tea. Usually, cinnamon is consumed in small quantities, often as an ingredient in common acid reflux trigger foods. This makes it hard to identify the cause of your heartburn symptoms.
For example, cinnamon is a common ingredient in curry, but other hot spices and high-fat foods such as meat and coconut cream are also ingredients in curry. So it’s impossible to know which ingredients cause your acid reflux symptoms.
The best way to know for sure is to eliminate one potential trigger food for 3-4 weeks and see if your symptoms improve. You’ll need to repeat the process for each food you think might be a trigger. It can be a long process but will be worth it in the long term.
How to make cinnamon tea for acid reflux
You can use tea bags, but it’s easy to make cinnamon tea from scratch. Also, when you make it from scratch, you know what ingredients have been used.
Be aware that some cinnamon teabags contain black tea as well. Black tea is very acidic and can make your acid reflux worse.
How to make cinnamon tea with cinnamon powder or ground cinnamon
Add half to one teaspoon of cinnamon to a cup of boiling water and stir. Leave to steep to about 10 minutes. Sweeten with up to a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey if needed.
How to make cinnamon tea with cinnamon sticks
All you need to do is place boiling water in a mug, add cinnamon bark, cover and leave it to steep for 10 minutes.
The video below uses Ceylon cinnamon and makes enough cinnamon tea for 2-3 cups. You will benefit from watching the short video because you can see how much cinnamon bark to use.
Cinnamon tea variations for acid reflux
Cinnamon and ginger tea – Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm your digestive system.
Turmeric and cinnamon tea – Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is another powerful antioxidant polyphenol. Curcumin protects the lining of your digestive tract from stomach acid and reflux.
Honey and cinnamon tea – Honey can help reduce inflammation in your esophagus or food pipe. A teaspoon of honey is all you need to add to your cinnamon tea.
Lemon and cinnamon tea – While lemon is acidic, small amounts of lemon turn alkaline in your stomach. This counters the effects of your stomach acid and helps neutralize the acid level. You may also like to try this tea with a teaspoon of honey.
Don’t use artificial sweeteners as they are highly acidic and will worsen your acid reflux symptoms.
LEARN MORE: Simple Herbal Teas For Heartburn That Will Bring Relief
Other natural remedies to help acid reflux
It is unlikely cinnamon will be the only home remedy you need to control your acid reflux symptoms, but it can be used alongside other home remedies. It’s a good idea to try different natural remedies as well:
- eat small healthy meals
- avoid your acid reflux trigger foods
- after you eat, wait 3-4 hours before lying down
- lifestyle changes such as reducing stress by doing yoga or meditation and gentle exercise
- try natural remedies such as apple cider vinegar or probiotics
- adjust your sleep position
- minimize alcohol
- quit smoking
LEARN MORE: 33 Proven Ways To Get Rid Of Heartburn Naturally
If natural remedies don’t work for you, you may need to consider other treatment options.
It’s a good idea to start with over-the-counter medications such as antacids. These will neutralize gastric acid, so you don’t get a burning sensation while refluxing.
You may also need to consider H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. Both will reduce stomach acid. However, there can be severe problems associated with proton pump inhibitors. Even though they are available over the counter and via prescription, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice in case there are better alternatives for you.
The final word: Is cinnamon tea good for acid reflux?
If cinnamon tea does not give you acid reflux, some good health benefits are associated with it. In particular, its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to lower blood sugar levels can help acid reflux. If you’re going to drink cinnamon tea regularly, it’s a good idea to use Ceylon cinnamon as it contains less coumarin, which is toxic in high doses.