Carolina Reaper: World's Hottest Chili Pepper Can Cause 'Thunderclap Headache'

By Meghna Mukherjee

So just like me, you guys like to eat spicy stuffs. Like the burning sensation, the eye and nose watering. Aha...Once in a bluemoon, it is a heaven to have such a meal.

But hey, think again. Because here I am going to introduce you to the world's hottest spice -- Carolina Reaper.
Yes. You heard me right, the worlds hottest chilli pepper! Don't ask me how much spicy is it, keep assuming and to know more, read along.

Carolina Reaper: Worlds Hottest Chili Pepper Can Cause Thunderclap Headache

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Before that, would you like to enter the contest, of eating the maximum number of spices we can consume. Get set and...no wait, before that let's know some more facts about this spice and can we, non-habitual consumers, consume this spice?

Let me narrate a story, that made the headlines in the recent newspapers and TV channels. A 34-year-old Detroit man was hospitalised after eating the Carolina Reaper. Sounds alarming, right? Yes, it is scary. We have no history of his past, his eating habits, etc., all we know is that he decided to enter the contest of eating the hottest spice to make a name in the Guinness Book of World Record.

Though for not the spice, but the after-effects, he is now popular. This man immediately started panting, and the pain in the head began with dry heaves. The pain went on and off, a sharp pain in the head , spine and neck area, doctors called the "thunderclap headaches". This kind of headache, goes on and off and starts suddenly for just no reason.

A lot of scans and MRI revealed no neurological issues. Since thunderclaps are mainly caused due to internal brain bleeding and if combined with a history of migraine, one has lost it completely. But no such results were reported. The doctors again suggested a scan and MRI, whereby they found that the nerves, rather arteries, were diluted, and that was the major cause. After a few days of treatment, another scan revealed that the arteries were back to the same size and no signs of inflammation were noticed and the man was back to normalcy again.

So, what was the reason, the doctors and the researchers started questioning, because there have been records whereby no such issues were noticed. Then why this kind of a situation arose?

A long-time research has the explanation, which states that, spices generally contain Capsaicin -- a molecule in chili peppers that creates the hot flavour and is also responsible for activating receptors responsible for the perception of pain, which fire off warning messages to the heart and brain. Hence, consuming chillies always comes with a warning.

Mainly, if you wish to consume spices, the best way is to add it to a sauce or add salt, so that it does not directly touch the sensors and cause an irritation.

Most importantly, researchers have concluded that, first-time consumers need to be psychologically ready and not just bump into a contest, which they have not been exposed to. Not all of us can consume spices and the level of consuming spices also varies.

At the same time, contest or exams, etc., are always a fearful factor, and that already leads to stress. Stress releases hormones that already affect the system and to add to it, are the spices. Lucky, the boy escaped with no damage, but repercussions do not say and come. So, be alert the next time.

Few cautions one can take before consuming such spices, would be:

1. If the spice is unbearable, drink a glass of milk, as milk would cool down the senses immediately. If that does not work, have an antacid, so that the enzymes do not cause any irritation.

2. Your stomach should not be empty. Have a little food, not that you should be full. Have something that takes time to digest like oats.

So the next time, you eat spices, judge yourself and go well equipped. Damages can be fatal, so best take the necessary precautionary measures.

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    Story first published: Monday, May 14, 2018, 19:30 [IST]
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