Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner bark of several species of Cinnamomum trees which grow primarily in southern and southeastern Asia.  Best known for its use as a flavoring spice for various foods and beverages, cinnamon has also been studied for its medicinal properties for conditions such as HIV infection, type-2 diabetes, colon cancer, melanoma and Alzheimer’s disease.

Yesterday, the AAP sounded the alarm about a dare teenagers are taking — a prank so idiotic that there is even a website devoted to it:

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!

The Cinnamon Challenge can be dangerous and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You never want to purposely or mistakenly inhale any subtances such as cinnamon. It’s going to burn, you are going to cough, and regret you tried.

 

I’m not sure why this website exists at all, except to show videos of unfortunate victims who all experience pain and respiratory distress (but, apparently, no long-term effects).  It’s clear that after the “dragon breath” has appeared, victims experience burning of the mouth and throat, a severe gag reflex, and even laryngospasm, all of which make it extremely difficult to breathe.  The fear in their eyes when they realize they can’t take in a breath is clearly apparent.

The cinnamon challenge has resulted in increased calls to poison control centers, visits to emergency rooms, and, in one case, admission to an intensive care unit for collapsed lungs.  Without medical treatment, it is potentially fatal to the mostly tweens and teens who try it.

The AAP’s call to action, in Pediatrics:

Given the allure of social media, peer pressure, and a trendy new fad, pediatricians and parents have a “challenge” of their own in counseling tweens and teens regarding the sensibilities of the choices they make and the potential health risks of this dare. Counseling can modify risk behaviors related to peer pressure, such as preventing tobacco and alcohol use, pregnancy, and expo- sure to sexually transmitted diseases. Parents should be reminded that their advice matters in countering peer pres- sure. Furthermore, schools and pediatricians should be encouraged to discuss with children the Cinnamon Challenge and its possible harmful effects, especially with children having cinnamon hypersensitivity, asthma, pulmonary cystic fibrosis, or chronic lung disease.

 

More on MedPage Today here.