In an effort to prove his mettle, this past month one man bit off more than he could chew and ended up in the hospital. Around 110 million people end up in the emergency room every year in the United States, but this man seriously underestimated the consequences of his culinary hubris.
The Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper on earth, holding the Guinness World Record at an average of 1.6 million Scoville Heat Units. In case you didn’t know, Scoville Heat Units measure the heat of a pepper or anything derived from chili peppers. It looks at the concentration of a chemical called capsaicin, which produces the sensation of spicy heat for human beings. For reference, a jalapeno pepper rates around 8,000.
This guy ate one single Carolina Reaper in the contest and later checked into the emergency room for having thunderclap headaches. These excruciating headaches come on suddenly, peak after about one minute, and are generally harbingers of direr, potentially life-threatening conditions. He reported having these repetitiously over the following days after eating the pepper. Naturally, this concern brought him to the emergency room where the doctors scanned his brain. They found that the arteries in his brain had been constricted due to the intensity of the pepper, thus causing the headaches. There wasn’t much to do other than observe, and over the course of five weeks, the arteries in his brain reportedly returned to normal.
Five. Weeks. The pepper was so intense it changed the physical makeup of his brain. The company that created the Reaper reports the experience of eating one: “A roasted sweetness delivering an instant level of heat never before achieved continuing with an increasing tidal wave of scorching fire that grips you from head to toe. Eyes glaze. Brows perspire. Arms flail. Caution! Caution! Caution! Caution! Caution!”
Nowhere in that description do they mention the possibility of the pepper changing physiological makeup for five weeks after consumption. Perhaps they’ll be adding to the cautions they set down before their record holding pepper. Maybe, just maybe, people will start thinking twice before putting themselves through a whole new definition of trial by fire. Stay safe pepper lovers, the Reaper is no mere spicy trifle.