Eating super-hot chili could give you a 'thunderclap' headache


The Carolina Reaper holds the Guinness World Record for the hottest chili pepper.

A man who made a decision to eat what's known as the world's hottest chili pepper, the Carolina Reaper, went to the emergency room after experiencing striking, severe head pain for days. A number of arteries in the brain had narrowed, and as a result the team decided it was a condition known as reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS), which probably caused the thunderclap headache. This particular pepper is considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, according to the report, published today (April 9) in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

The Carolina Reaper earned the title of hottest chili pepper in the world because it has more capsaicinoids-a class of compounds which produces the spicy effect-than any other peppers.

With a blistering 1.57 million on the Scoville heat scale, the Carolina Reaper is not a chilli to be messed with.

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He developed neck and head pain after ingesting the chilli, and then the headaches began. But he then developed severe neck pain and crushingly painful headaches, each of which lasted just a few seconds, over the next several days.

These episodes lasted two days before the man took himself to hospital.

Gunasekaran also said that this is the first time that chili pepper has been related to RCVS. It's been known to happen with medicines such as antidepressants and certain decongestants, as well with illicit drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, the doctors wrote.

"This is the first time that pepper has been related to RCVS", Gunasekaran said.

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CT and MRI scans of the man's brain were taken but showed nothing out of the ordinary.

"No cases of RCVS secondary to peppers or cayenne have been previously reported, but ingestion of cayenne pepper has been associated with coronary vasospasm and acute myocardial infarction". In 2017, the Carolina Reaper took the title again, with a pepper grown in SC that measured 1,641,183 SHUs.

But a CT angiogram of the brain's blood vessels did reveal something unusual: a substantial narrowing of the left internal carotid artery and four other blood vessels supplying the brain.

Never before, however, had the doctors ever heard of a case where a pepper was the cause. So the Carolina Reaper is nearly as hot as a substance used to temporarily blind people.

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Speaking of symptoms, the man did not show any sign of stroke because he did not have any kind of neurological deficits such as slurred speech or muscle weakness.