Cinnamon – it’s something we all have in our spice cupboards at home – but did you know that your teen’s life could be in danger as the result of inhaling this spice? It’s something even “good kids” try, mostly because they believe it’s innocent enough – a seemingly silly child’s game – a dare. It’s called the “Cinnamon Challenge,” and physicians are now warning parents to educate their children on the very real dangers involved with participating in the spicy challenge.

What is the Cinnamon Challenge?

The challenge involves teens taking 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and trying to swallow it, dry, within 60 seconds – without the aid of any liquid at all. The dare, around since about 2001, has increased in popularity since 2010, as evidence of teens participating in the challenge has gone viral on YouTube and Twitter.

What Will Happen if I Take the Cinnamon Challenge?

Most of the videos show what happens when you try to ingest dry cinnamon without water. It results in an inability to swallow, the body reacting violently to remove the offending substance. Orangey-brown dust is sputtered from their mouths as they try to regain composure and breathing. According to a recent New York Times article, “One video has been viewed more than 29 million times. Another shows the governor of Illinois taking the challenge.”

Teens think it’s hilarious. The problem is they don’t know just how dangerous it can be.

Why the Cinnamon Challenge is Dangerous

Doctors say the challenge is a feat of impossibility because cinnamon cannot be digested without water. They warn that many people who take the challenge end up inhaling the cinnamon dust as a result of the coughing and sputtering that it causes. Powdered cinnamon, made from the bark of a tree, contains cellulose fibers that do not break down easily and can prevent the air from reaching your lungs.

Besides the risk of gagging or vomiting the spice, challengers run the risk of inhaling and possibly choking so severely on the cinnamon dust, that their lungs become affected, causing inflammation and/or scarring of the lung tissue, pneumonia, collapsed lungs and even death.

There are two varieties of cinnamon in the marketplace. The most common, cassia cinnamon, contains a moderately toxic chemical compound called coumarin, which European health agencies and a recent study by the American Chemical Society have both warned against consuming in large amounts.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of poison control center calls received about teens trying the challenge has increased from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year.

Physicians also caution that people with asthma and other respiratory conditions are at greater risk from the challenge.

Want to learn more about the very real dangers of the Cinnamon Challenge?

Visit, a site started by a former teen challenger, Dejah Reed. Upon trying the Cinnamon Challenge, Dejah ended up hospitalized and is still dealing with ongoing breathing problems. She create the site in an effort to warn other teens about the dangers of the Cinnamon Challenge. Just say no!