Cinnamon Challenge

Swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon can harm the lungs in some cases, especially for people with asthma.

8 Exposures

Abuse or misuse of cinnamon by teens Jan. 1, 2014, to Feb. 28, 2014

The cinnamon challenge begins with a teen being dared to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon without drinking water.

The cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, causing gagging, vomiting, coughing, choking and throat irritation. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing.

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 Dec. 31, 2013, there were 54 such exposures reported to poison centers.

What should you do if someone experiences any of the listed health concerns?

Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Just one phone number will connect you to one of fifty-seven poison centers around the country, where poison experts are waiting to answer your call. These experts can help you decide whether someone can be treated at home, or whether he or she must go to a hospital.

Dial 9-1-1 immediately if someone:

  • Stops breathing.
  • Collapses.
  • Has a seizure.

PLEASE NOTE: The term "exposure" means someone has had contact with the substance in some way; for example, ingested, inhaled, absorbed by the skin or eyes, etc. Not all exposures are poisonings or overdoses.

Find Your Local Poison Center

Poison centers offer free, private, confidential medical advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach your local poison center by calling 1-800-222-1222.

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