Fear the Reaper: Man hospitalised after eating red hot chilli pepper

Competitive eater bit off more than he could chew

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A man had to be taken to hospital after eating one of the world's hottest peppers in an eating contest, it has emerged.

The 34-year-old was rushed to an emergency room in New York after developing "excruciating" pain from eating the Carolina Reaper, according to a report in the British Medical Journal this week.

The chilli packs an average 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). In contrast, the humble jalapeño scores just 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.

His symptoms began with dry heaves immediately after participation in a hot pepper contest, the report said. "He then developed intense neck and occipital head pain that became holocephalic.

"During the next few days, on at least two occasions and in retrospect he thought probably more often, he experienced brief intense thunderclap headaches lasting seconds."

A CT scan revealed a number of arteries in the brain had narrowed, causing reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS), which was thought to have caused the acute "thunderclap" headache.

The patient's symptoms improved with care, and he had no further thunderclap headaches.

However, others have escaped similar encounters with the red devils less intact.

In 2016 a 47-year-old man tore his oesophagus by retching and straining after eating pureed ghost pepper, which scores a million on the Scoville scale.

Capsaicin is the main active ingredient in chillis and when consumed binds with pain receptors in the mouth and throat, causing burning sensations via spinal relays to the thalamus where heat and discomfort are perceived.

According to Paul Bosland, professor of horticulture at New Mexico State University and director of the Chile Pepper Institute, has said the grub can theoretically cause death, but in most cases people's bodies "would react sooner and not allow it to happen".

The hottest chilli in the world was unveiled last year in Wales, scoring 2.4 million on the Scoville scale.

Dragon's Breath was created by a farmer for the Chelsea Flower show and is so potent that it had to be kept in a sealed container when it went on display. ®

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