‘Cinnamon Challenge’ Not Safe for Teens
As a chiropractor, I mostly deal with acute and chronic injuries resulting from accidents and bad choices. The story behind the injury can sometimes be humorous but often, it leaves me shaking my head and asking “what were you thinking?” Too often the answer I get back is: “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
The topic for today is the Cinnamon Challenge. This stunt has been around for a while, but with the growing ease and popularity of Youtube and Facebook, we are seeing a lot more cases. Teens, who are most likely to try the stunt, will attempt to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon while friends record a video. The stunt usually leaves the teen choking and coughing as the caustic cinnamon irritates the throat and causes a hyper gag-reflex.
Cinnamon has been used as a spice for at least 4,000 years. It is safe for humans to eat, if in small quantities. Few people are allergic to it. But if powdered cinnamon is inhaled, it’s fibrous structure can cause serious harm to the small air sacks of the lungs.
During 2011, the US American Association of Poison Control Centers received 51 calls related to the Cinnamon Challenge. Since then, the number of children and adolescents engaging in the practice has apparently increased dramatically: During the first 6 months of 2012, Poison Control Centers reported 178 calls related to intentional ingestion of cinnamon powder.
As teens see the fame that others receive by publicly airing their bravado, they may be tempted to ‘one-up’ the challenge. Teens are at a real risk for serious lung injury when they engage in this activity.