Red hot chilli pepper: Man develops brain disorder after eating Carolina Reaper

Carolina Reaper pepper. courtesy

Doctors say the Carolina Reaper chilli pepper - which can reach up to 2.2 million on the Scoville heat scale, caused the arteries in his brain to constrict, leaving him with crippling "thunderclap" headaches.

"His symptoms began with dry heaves but no vomiting immediately after participation in a hot pepper contest where he ate one 'Carolina Reaper, ' the hottest chili pepper in the world".

He ended up in a NY state hospital with "excruciatingly painful episodic headaches" after eating a "Carolina Reaper", according to a new study in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

The 34-year-old man was rushed to hospital after eating one "Carolina Reaper" chilli and developing intense neck and head pains that resulted in the headache pains over several days, according to a report in the British Medical Journal.

The description continues: "He then developed intense neck and occipital head pain". A CT scan showed that numerous arteries in his brain had constricted and he was diagnosed with RCVS.

His symptoms cleared up and a CT scan five weeks later showed his arteries were normal.

The Guinness World Record for the hottest chilli is now held by The PuckerButt Pepper Company in SC.

In this man's case, the RCVS could have been due to eating the Carolina Reaper, the report said. Such headaches are typically brief but agonizing.

The Carolina Reaper is a cross between Sweet Habanero and Naga Viper chillies and is known to be the hottest pepper on Earth.

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Often this is related to severe reactions to prescription medications or the use of illegal drugs. However, eating cayenne pepper has been linked to heart attacks and a narrowing of the blood vessels in the heart, known as coronary vasospasm, according to the report.

In the first ever recorded case of a chilli causing these types of headaches, the man over the next few days experienced short splitting pains lasting seconds at a time.

Biting into the "hottest pepper in the world" sounds painful enough.

The man's symptoms improved without any specific treatment.

Previous year it named the Carolina Reaper - a cross between Sweet Habanero and Naga Viper chillies - as the hottest pepper on Earth.

For the average person interested in spice, not suffering, he advised using small amounts of any really hot pepper in food preparation, as they were intended.

The patient was fine, with no lingering damage, but thunderclap headaches are not to be dismissed.

It's not the first time chilli peppers have triggered serious repercussions.

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