DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s the latest crazy dare sweeping the world wide web like wildfire: the cinnamon challenge. The dare is to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in one minute, with no water.
“I thought, how bad could this be?” says Tinuola Agbabiaka. “It’s just cinnamon and it’s only a teaspoon. It’s not a whole lot, so I could probably do this.”
Or not. Agbabiaka called the experience “horrible.” “You put it into your mouth and it just dries up into this powder and then it’s bitter and peppery, and then you just spit it out, because you can’t swallow it at all.”
Agbabiaka heard about the dare from a coworker and indulged her curiosity — only to regret it later. Had she looked on online, she would have found videos of cinnamon misery by the thousands.
“It seems like an innocent thing,” says Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, a Parkland Hospital toxicologist. “However, it turns out that cinnamon actually has effects other than just being very drying in your mouth.”
According to Kleinschmidt, cinnamon affects the same receptors in a person’s mouth as chile peppers.
“And the next thing you know, you’re coughing and gagging, and anything you swallow down, you’re probably going to end up vomiting back up,” he says. “But the big danger is when you take a big breath at the wrong time, you breathe some of this cinnamon dust down into your lungs. So think about what that’s like… like having chile peppers breathed down into your lungs, and that can be a real danger to your breathing.”
Experts say asthma patients are especially vulnerable — like 12-year-old Courtney, who has made repeated trips to the hospital since her try at the cinnamon challenge.
“I wasn’t expecting it to get real hard and get caught in my throat,” says Courtney, who tried to wipe the hot spice out of her mouth with a paper towel.
So far, no deaths have been reported. But doctors say it is a chance that you simply don’t want to take — especially for a dare.
“It is that bad,” says Agbabiaka. “I would recommend really just not to do it, not to do it at all.”