Remember those old anti-drug commercials with the motto of “This is your brain on drugs,” and the sizzling egg? Well, now we know what a brain looks like on one of the hottest peppers in the world.
A 34-year-old man took part in a hot pepper eating competition in 2016 and ate one “Carolina Reaper.” The Reaper, a cross between a red habanero and a Bhut jolokia pepper, averages 1.5 million Scoville Heat Units. (For comparison, a jalapeno measures in between 1,000 and 10,000.)
The man, who wasn’t named, started dry heaving but with no actual vomit. Then it got worse.
“He then developed intense neck and occipital head pain that became holocephalic,” according to a report in the British Medical Journal. “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.
This is what doctors in the emergency room saw:
The picture on the left shows a spasm in the blood vessels, caused by the chemicals of the pepper. The picture on the right show where the blood vessels opened back up later. The man’s pain gradually subsided, but it took about five weeks for his blood vessels to return to normal.
Salvatore Genovese, who runs Love My Chillies in the United Kingdom, says this wouldn’t be a normal experience for eating a Carolina Reaper.
“It’s not really designed to just plonk it in your mouth and eat it,” he told Sky News. “I would never do that and I wouldn’t recommend it.”
And it’s probably safe to say that the man who experienced thunderclap headaches won’t be munching on a Carolina Reaper anytime soon.
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