I probably should have posted this before the Neknominate post since it references the cinnamon challenge, but I didn’t and that isn’t going to change. So, just what is the Cinnamon Challenge? It is another piece of stupidity that has been gaining popularity because of the internet and social media. The challenge is to swallow a tablespoon full of powdered cinnamon without any external aid, you know like water. The challenge should be completed in under 60 seconds. Here is a video. It is amazing the number of people who have tried this; there are 101 clips in this video.
Add Tablespoon of Cinnamon
So, besides being painful and somewhat funny to watch, why am I adding the Cinnamon Challenge to Lethally Stupid. Well, it turns out that the Cinnamon Challenge can be very harmful to your health. It probably won’t kill you right away, but it could definitely contribute. Turns out there are several health issues associated with the Cinnamon Challenge that should dissuade anyone from participating. These considerations won’t actually help in many cases. It sometimes seems to me that humanity is addicted to stupidity. Plus, internet fame is always a possibility which tends to turn off a person’s common sense.
The health issues have turned out to be so serious that the American Academy of Pediatrics published an article on it in their journal Pediatrics. The article makes interesting reading and will be included at the bottom. First off, it says that temporary reactions to cinnamon are common, but that allergic reactions to cinnamon or caustic reactions are rare. Cinnamon is a very benign substance when ingested properly. However, the Cinnamon Challenge is a different story. When trying to eat a tablespoon of cinnamon you risk aspiration, which means breathing it into your lungs. Once cinnamon gets into your lungs it can cause a host of problems including death. Imagine your obituary, “Killed by cinnamon”. How humiliating. I don’t know if anyone has ever…ever died from cinnamon. Well, maybe if a cinnamon tree fell on someone. Granted death is the extreme in this case and you have to be asthmatic to risk it, but who would have thought that powdered cinnamon could kill you. If you participate in the Cinnamon Challenge the worst that is likely to happen is painful, convulsive coughing, vomiting, maybe a nosebleed. Now if you insist on doing the challenge, just don’t do it drunk. Attila the Hun died of a nosebleed after getting plastered on his wedding night.
But It’s Just Cinnamon?
I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying to yourself that it’s just cinnamon. Chances are you may have had cinnamon every day this week, cinnamon is a common ingredient in breakfast foods. And that’s the point. Cinnamon is benign if ingested, unless you are allergic. It is when it is inhaled that the problems start.
So, why is it so terrible to inhale cinnamon? Cinnamon contains cinnamic aldehyde. There are many uses for cinnamic aldehyde. It is used as a fungicide, it is antimicrobial, in high concentrations it can inhibit the growth of cancer, and it can be used to protect steel from corrosion. Basically, cinnamic aldehyde can preserve human tissue. That sounds great until you realize that it does so by stopping all biological function in the cell. Now, the concentration of cinnamic aldehyde is around 1% in powdered cinnamon, but do you really want that stuff in your lungs? Even !% can cause some damage to the delicate tissue of the lungs.
Cinnamon is also ground up tree bark. Trees and contain a compound called cellulose. Cellulose is the main compound that makes up the cell walls of plant cells. If you remember back to your biology classes you know that plant cells have an extra layer, the cell wall, that gives them their shape and structural support. It is used to make paper and similar products. If ingested by humans it mostly passes through our systems intact with little digestion. This means that if it gets into your lungs there isn’t much you can do to get it out. The human body just isn’t equipped to digest the stuff. Even termites that eat this stuff don’t digest it on their own. They have special bacteria in their stomachs to do the heavy lifting.
Okay, now you know that there is cinnamic aldehyde and cellulose in cinnamon. What does that actually mean in terms of inhalation? In two words: lung damage. Cinnamon was never meant to find its way into your lungs. Even taking the Cinnamon Challenge once could irreparably damage your lungs. Just ask Dejah Reed, 16, of Ypsilanti, Mich. She tried the cinnamon challenge and had to be hospitalized for a collapsed lung. This stuff is so bad that the American Association for Poison Control Centers has a page on their website just for the Cinnamon Challenge
So, what have we learned? That inhaling wood pulp into the lungs is a bad idea, which is what is making those people in the video cough and wheeze. Now, I’m not saying it will happen, but it could. They may end up wheezing for the rest of their lives. Just remember air is dangerous enough for anyone to inhale we don’t need to make it any harder.
- Ingesting and Aspirating Dry Cinnamon by Children
and Adolescents: The “Cinnamon Challenge”
- 5 Reasons Not To Take The Cinnamon Challenge
- Asthma and other symptoms in cinnamon workers
- Cinnamic Aldehyde
- ‘Cinnamon challenge’ dangerous to lungs, new report warns
- Cinnamon Challenge
- Poison Control Cinnamon Challenge Page
- Consequences of the ‘Cinnamon Challenge’
- Teens’ ‘cinnamon challenge’: Dangerous, not innocent