Parents need to warn their kids against yet another stupid health risk that some are taking: a “cinnamon challenge” where a tablespoon of ground cinnamon is swallowed in less than a minute without drinking fluids.
There are more than 50,000 YouTube videos showing teens and young adults taking the cinnamon challenge including one which had more than 9 million views. Mere moments after the cinnamon is ingested, it gets shot back out through the mouth in a cloud of red dust; coughing and choking ensue as the spice triggers a severe gag reflex. In some cases, the choking causes the cinnamon to wind up in the lungs, which can lead to lung damage.
An article published last Monday in the journal Pediatrics noted that during the first six months of 2012, there were 178 calls to US American Association of Poison Control Centers - up from 51 calls in all of 2011 - and 30 teens required medical attention. Some adolescents have gone to the emergency department after taking the cinnamon challenge, and some have required hospitalization for collapsed lungs, according to the study authors. The practice can in rare cases result in long-lasting lung problems due to lesions and scarring that form on the lungs or chronic inflammation of the airway - especially in those who already have asthma.
Bottom line: Parents need to instruct their children to stay away from the cinnamon overdose.
Indians have used cinnamon as herbal remedy for centuries. Today, nearly every part of the world uses cinnamon, mainly as spice for food, and some people use it for the treatment of such conditions as an upset stomach, gastric ulcers, respiratory ailments, nervous disorders and skin infections. Although cinnamon has many health benefits, you should never overdose on it as this spice can also cause side effects.
Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavouring material. It is used in the preparation of chocolate, especially in Mexico, which is the main importer of cinnamon. It is also used in many dessert recipes, such as apple pie, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies, tea, hot cocoa, and liqueurs. True cinnamon, rather than cassia, is more suitable for use in sweet dishes. In the Middle East, it is often used in savoury dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States, cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavour cereals, bread-based dishes, and fruits, especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in Persian cuisine, used in a variety of thick soups, drinks, and sweets. It is often mixed with rosewater or other spices to make a cinnamon-based curry powder for stews or just sprinkled on sweet treats (most notably Shole-zard, Persian شله زرد). It is also used in sambar powder or BisiBelebath powder in Karnataka, which gives it a rich aroma and tastes unique. It is also used in Turkish cuisine for both sweet and savoury dishes.
Cinnamon has been proposed for use as an insect repellent, although it remains untested. Cinnamon leaf oil has been found to be very effective in killing mosquito larvae. Of the compounds found in the essential oil from cinnamon leaves, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, and anethole, and in particular cinnamaldehyde, were found to have the highest effectiveness against mosquito larvae.
Cinnamon, as a warm and dry substance, was believed by doctors in ancient times to cure snakebites, freckles, the common cold, and kidney troubles, among other ailments.
By Deborah Kotz