'Cinnamon challenge' has potentially dangerous consequences

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 11 at 8:03 PM

DALLAS - It's an online dare, a challenge to swallow a teaspoon of cinnamon without water in 60 seconds.

Those who have tried the cinnamon challenge say unlike a spoonful of sugar, the spice does not go down so nice.

Now, North Texas Poison Center authorities are concerned about the number of panicked calls and trips to area hospitals from people who have attempted the viral prank.

"You can start wheezing, have a hard time breathing," explained Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, a Parkland toxicologist.

He said this usually harmless spice can be poison for some people.

Like a chili-pepper, cinnamon provokes pain receptors in the mouth and lungs. It can also trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction.

"I'm not familiar with anyone who has died from doing this at this point in time," Kleinschmidt said. "But if you have underlying lung problems or if you're an asthmatic, and you do this, and you stimulate a very bad asthmatic episode. Well just like any asthmatic episode, you can die."

People allergic to cinnamon can suffer from touching it. Cinnamon can also cause a severe internal allergic reaction that can lead to anaphylactic shock.

"My mouth immediately dried up," said Tinu Agbabiaka of her experience. "I proceeded to spit it out."

After that serious choking episode, she and health authorities are warning others against the cinnamon challenge.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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