Cinnamon is a food, so why is the "cinnamon challenge" considered harmful?
You may have heard your kids talking about the so-called "cinnamon challenge," a prank that's often showcased in YouTube videos and is popular on the Web. It involves trying to eat a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. It may seem simple enough, but it's almost impossible to do. Not only that, it can be extremely dangerous and lead to long-term or life-threatening health problems. So it's important that kids know that the cinnamon challenge is no joke.
Cinnamon is made from tree bark and contains cellulose, a substance that doesn't break down easily. While tolerable in very small amounts, in larger concentrated amounts cinnamon can cause kids to gag, cough, choke, and have a burning sensation in the mouth, nose, and throat. More serious reactions include vomiting, nosebleeds, and tightness in the chest.
It's also possible for someone to inhale cinnamon while choking or gagging on it, which can cause inflammation in the lungs, a thickening of lung tissue, and scarring. This can lead to pneumonia, a collapsed lung, and/or permanent lung damage. And kids with asthma or other respiratory problems are at risk for severe breathing difficulties while attempting this challenge.
Talk to your kids about the dangers of ingesting large amounts of cinnamon and encourage them to say "no" to this unfortunate trend. And encourage them to share the truth about this risky prank with any friends who might be tempted to try it.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: May 2013