Eating world's hottest pepper sparks brain disorder, thunderclap headaches

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

His problems began when he ate a whole Carolina Reaper — the hottest pepper in the world, according to Guinness World Records — while participating in hot-pepper-eating competition.

After eating a Carolina Reaper pepper, the 34-year-old started dry heaving before developing a pain in his neck that turned into a series of thunderclap headaches: sudden and severe episodes of excruciating pain that peak within a minute.

Scans of his head and neck showed the kind of constriction in some arteries that can cause intense headaches, doctors reported on Monday in BMJ Case Reports.

A team of doctors from NY and MI published details of an unusual medical case to the journal BMJ Case Reports this week and it reads like a culinary horror story. And a CT scan five weeks later showed that his arteries had returned to their normal size.

Because while it's common for the chilli to cause extreme discomfort, it's believed this was the first time it has been linked to thunderclap headaches.

In 2013, the Carolina Reaper-a cross between Sweet Habanero and Naga Viper chilies-clocked in at 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a unit of measure for a chili's spiciness.

"The public should be aware that they might get [severe symptoms] after eating peppers, such as the Carolina Reaper", Gunasekaran explained. Such headaches are typically brief but agonizing.

Its creator, Ed Currie, has since crossbred the Reaper to create "Pepper X", which he says is twice as hot.

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This rare condition is caused by the sudden narrowing of the major blood vessels in the brain. Sometimes, this condition can occur as a reaction to certain prescription drugs, or to illegal drugs such as cocaine or ecstasy.

Eating super-hot chili peppers can have painful effects that extend beyond a blazing mouth, doctors warn.

"When we were looking at the literature we found a couple of cases similar to our case", one of the researchers, Kulothungan Gunasekaran of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, told The Guardian.

Cayenne pepper pills and a capsaicin patch, sold in China and Turkey, have been blamed in medical reports for two nonfatal heart attacks in young men, the result of spasms in arteries.

The man's symptoms cleared up by themselves.

Gunasekaran also said that this is the first time that chili pepper has been related to RCVS. He achieved this accomplishment by consuming 120 grams of the pepper in 60 seconds at the Arizona Hot Sauce Expo in November 2016.

The journal said that there is no particular treatment for the thunderclap headaches.

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