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A warning for parents and teens has been issued by the American Association of Poison Control Cinnamonfor people who are participating in the Cinnamon Challenge not to partake in this stunt. Teens have posted over 50,000 clips on You Tube of people trying the challenge and a face book page exist as well pointing people to the site of the Cinnamon Challenge.

The Cinnamon Challenge has posted the following, “They say the challenge is simple. Take 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and try to swallow it within 60 seconds without any water. People think it’s so easy to do, yet it’s practically impossible. Watch out for the dragon breath! DO NOT ATTEMPT THE CINNAMON CHALLENGE! IT BURNS![1]

What the web site does not tell you is that people with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at risk of having this stunt result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing. One case has been cited where a person who did the Cinnamon Challenge actually experienced a collapsed lung and had to be placed on a ventilator.

Videos posted online involve people trying the challenge. Many began coughing and choking immediately as the spice triggers a severe gag reflex in response to a caustic sensation in the mouth and throat. Some have even developed nose bleeds.Most of the immediate affects that people experience are coughing, choking, and burning of the mouth. The long term affects can also include possible lesions, scaring and inflammation of the airway. One video was viewed 19 million times, predominantly by 13- to 24-year-olds, ages similar to people taking the Cinnamon Challenge.

“According to information in the American Association of Poison Control Center’s National Poison Data System, which collects information in near real-time about every call made to poison centers across the U.S., the number of calls to poison centers in 2012 concerning intentional misuse or abuse of cinnamon by teens ages 13 to 19 totaled 222. From Jan. 1, 2013, to March 31, 2013, there were 20 such exposures reported to poison centers.”[2]

“At least 30 participants nationwide have required medical attention. Cinnamon inhalation can cause pulmonary inflammation, predisposing airways to epithelial lesions and scarring. Aspirated powder entering the upper airways can cause inflammation and, in more severe cases, aspiration pneumonia.”[3] The Journal of Pediatrics is encouraging parents, school officials and others who work with teens and adolescents to talk about the challenge and why it is potentially dangerous.  The Cinnamon Challenge has a high likelihood of being potentially dangerous to the lungs.[4]

[1] Cinnamon Challenge.

[2] Cinnamon Challenge, American Association of Poison Control Centers.

[3] Alfieri, Amelia Grant and others, Ingesting and Aspirating Dry Cinnamon by Children and Adolescents: The “Cinnamon Challenge.” Pediatrics, April 22, 2013. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-3418

[4] Ibid