A man was left hospitalised with severe thunderclap headaches after eating a ‘Carolina Reaper’, the world’s hottest chilli pepper.
Doctors explained in the journal BMJ Case Reports that the 34-year-old’s symptoms began immediately after eating the chilli, with dry heaves followed by severe neck pain and extremely painful headaches, each of which lasted just a few seconds and continued for the next several days.
The Carolina Reaper ranks between 1,500,000–2.2million units on the Scoville Scale, which is a measurement of the spicy heat of chilli peppers. By comparison a Jalapeño pepper scores 2,500–5,000, while a Scotch Bonnet pepper is 100,000–400,000.
Since 2013, Carolina Reapers have held the Guinness World Record for the world’s hottest chili pepper. They have an average rating of 1,641,183 Scoville heat units (SHU) with some individual Carolina Reapers as high as 2.2 million SHU.
A thunderclap headache is described as an intense burst of pain which usually peaks within 60 seconds. According to MayoClinic, these types of headache are uncommon and can be caused by potentially life-threatening conditions.
RCVS is characterised by temporary artery narrowing often accompanied by a thunderclap headache. It doesn’t always have an obvious cause, but can occur as a reaction to certain prescription medications or after taking illegal drugs.
This is the first case to be associated with eating chilli peppers, the authors said, although they did point out that eating cayenne pepper has been linked to sudden constriction of the coronary artery and heart attacks.