Dangerous ‘Cinnamon Challenge’ hits WKU

Maciena Justice

Swallowing one tablespoon of cinnamon seems simple enough. Getting it all down with no water or assistance from any other source still seems easy enough. That might be why YouTube is full of videos of people that have tried to do just that. However, that is not the case — the cinnamon challenge is impossible.

“The cinnamon absorbed all the saliva in my mouth,” Jan Claussen said.

The Hendersonville, Tenn., junior said she saw a tweet about the Cinnamon Challenge, then asked her friend, Owensboro senior Dylan Wilson, what it was all about.

“He said it wasn’t a big deal,” she said.

Wilson convinced her to try it.

“She had no idea what it was, so I thought I’d introduce her to it,” he said.

She said when she tried it, she had tears rolling down her face because of the taste.

“It felt like I ate hot sauce,” Claussen said.

Wilson said it was pretty funny to watch Claussen attempt to swallow the cinnamon and try not to throw up.

Wilson tried it about five years ago. A friend of his sister dared him to try it for $5.

“It was only a tablespoon, so I just went for it,” he said.

He wasn’t able to actually complete the challenge, but the friend gave him the $5 for trying.

While Wilson has no problem telling others about the challenge and convincing them to do it, Claussen said she would never promote it.

“I would try to talk someone out of it,” Claussen said. “It’s not pleasant at all.”

While taking the challenge might seem like a great idea, or even funny to get someone to do it, there are dangerous side effects.

Kathryn Steward, Assistant Director of Health Education at WKU, said the particles of cinnamon dust can get into the lungs and has in some cases caused lungs to collapse.

“The cinnamon dust isn’t supposed to be in your lungs — water dissolves it,” Steward said. “People think it is funny, but it’s impossible to do.”

She said, according to the National Poison Data System, there have been 139 calls within the first three months of 2012 regarding the Cinnamon Challenge, compared to only 51 calls total for 2011.

“There is no benefit to this,” Steward said. “It can cause damage.”

The long-term effects are unknown, if any from attempting this challenge, though she urges for people not to try it.

“You might think you are healthy and OK, but it could affect you in an unknown way,” Steward said.

Steward said young people tend to not think about the long-term effects.

The director is challenging students to think, “Is what you’re getting ready to do worth the consequences?”