World’s Hottest Pepper Responsible for Excruciating ‘Thunderclap Headaches’

In this Dec. 12, 2013 photo, Ed Currie holds three Carolina Reaper peppers, in Fort Mill, S.C. Last month, The Guinness Book of World Records decided Currie’s peppers were the hottest on Earth, ending a more than four-year drive to prove no one grows a more scorching chili. (AP Photo/Jeffrey …
AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins

After a pepper-eating contest, one unnamed participant spent days in agonizing pain with headaches.

“Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome” is a narrowing of arteries in the brain. Often, it is a symptom of vicious “thunderclap headaches,” which can leave someone helpless in unbearable pain until it subsides. Apparently, a new cause has been identified: Puckerbutt Pepper Company’s Carolina Reapers, the world’s hottest pepper.

Infamous for the masochism required to consume it, the Carolina Reaper has become the new standard for humorous online self-torture. Fortunately, scans of the unnamed contest participant’s brain revealed no permanent damage, and months later, his brain had returned to normal. Still, that was little comfort in the days of agony that followed the stunt.

“Given the development of symptoms immediately after exposure to a known vasoactive substance,” said the doctors involved with his treatment, “it is plausible that our patient had RCVS secondary to the Carolina Reaper.” A dry conclusion, to be sure, but one that any prospective palate daredevils may want to consider just the same.


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