Students Purposely Choke On Cinnamon For Cheap Thrill

Jan 14, 2014 by

‘CIMMANON CHALLEGE’: It’s dangerous and dumb, say experts.

During high school, Katie Seals tried the “Cinnamon Challenge.” Today, as a student at Pt. Loma Nazarene University, she admits it was a dumb idea.

“I was curious to see if I could do it,” Seals told The College Fix. “I tried it and started coughing so badly I had to spit it out. I can’t believe I actually wanted to try it.”

During the Cinnamon Challenge, a person swallows a spoonful of the spice without water, prompting an immediate gag reflex and causing a big cloud of the brownish-red substance to spew forth from the user, who also coughs and hacks in recovery.

The game is popular among high school and college students, as tens of thousands of videos posted online show young people in dorm rooms trying it in what has become a “social media sensation,” say some.

According to, there are more than 40,000 Cinnamon Challenge videos on Some of the more popular videos have garnered anywhere from 11 million to 29 million views. The New York Times reports that Google recorded 2.4 million hits for the topic in 2012, up from 200,000 in 2009.

And while it may be a joke to young people, alarmed medical experts have recently been more vocal about the emerging trend, especially now that younger children are starting to mimic older siblings and peers.

Take an announcement from Loyola University Health System, which warned of the dangers during the holiday season last month.

“A group of 9-year-olds were trying to do the Cinnamon Challenge and got caught,” stated Dr. Christina Hantsch, a toxicologist at the emergency department at Loyola University Health System and a former medical director of Illinois Poison Control.

“One girl had seen the videos on the Internet and wanted to try it with her friends,” she says. “The dry, loose cinnamon triggers a violent coughing effect and also a burning sensation that actually can lead to breathing and choking hazards.”

The cinnamon is so strong it causes students to gag or even vomit. Others have a harsher reaction to the cinnamon and cannot breath, or continually vomit and need to be rushed to the emergency room. Hundreds of people across the nation have called poison control over the last two years over complications from intentional misuse or abuse of cinnamon, statistics show.

Dr. Steven Lipshultz, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told The New York Times that another big problem is cinnamon powder contains an inert substance called cellulose, which can lodge in the lungs.

“The cellulose doesn’t break down,” Lipshultz said. “So when it gets into the lungs it sits there long term, and if it’s coated with this caustic cinnamon oil, that leads to chronic inflammation and eventually scarring of the lungs, something we call pulmonary fibrosis. Getting scarring in the lungs is equivalent to getting emphysema.”

Lipshultz added his daughter, a student at Harvard University, told him in March 2013 – after he first heard of the Cinnamon Challenge – that the game is popular in her dorm, and even showed him a few videos.

“The people in these YouTube videos are actually choking,” the doctor said.

via TRENDING: Students Purposely Choke On Cinnamon For Cheap Thrill.

Education News
by Education News
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