Swallowing cinnamon by the spoonful
We've been hearing a lot lately about the health benefits spices can offer; they're potent sources of antioxidants, and adding them to foods can boost nutrition without adding calories.
But adding spices to foods is one thing. Trying to swallow them by the teaspoonful is another -- and, let me say from the get-go, not an advisable -- thing altogether.
Why would anyone even think of trying such a thing? You got me. But leave it to a 13-year-old boy. Mine came home talking about the "cinnamon challenge" the other day.
Turns out there are a whole lot of people out there trying this stunt. Many are videotaping their -- or their friends' -- efforts and posting them on sites such as this.
I am glad I didn't record my son's attempt. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. He loaded up a spoon with ground, dried cinnamon straight from the spice rack and confidently put it in his mouth. That's when the sputtering, spitting and searching for water began.
Turns out swallowing a teaspoon of cinnamon is very difficult, if not impossible. But why? I asked several experts, including a California pediatrician who'd never heard of the phenomenon and couldn't quite account for its difficulty. Of course, theories abound on the Internet. The common wisdom seems to be that cinnamon dries your mouth out or prevents saliva from forming and lubricating the powder's path. But we at The Checkup don't put much stock in things we read on random Web sites.
So I'm throwing it out to any medical professionals who may happen to be reading this blog. What is it about our physiology that makes it so hard for us to choke down a teaspoon of cinnamon?
Meanwhile, let me be clear: I do NOT advise trying this or letting your kids try. I fear that someone's going to seriously choke on that dry powder or inhale it into their lungs. Let's just enjoy our cinnamon sprinkled over oatmeal or toast, okay?
Jennifer LaRue Huget
April 5, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , General Health , Life's Big Questions , Teens
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