What eating world's hottest chilli pepper can do to you

Carolina Reaper.
Carolina Reaper. Photo credit: Magnolia677/Wikipedia

A man who tried to eat the world's hottest chilli pepper ended up in hospital with "crushingly painful" headaches.

The 34-year-old US man was competing in a hot pepper contest when he tried the 'Carolina Reaper', which can be about 100 times as hot as cayenne pepper, according to a new report in journal BMJ Case Reports.

The first thing that happened was he got dry heaves, which soon developed into severe neck pain and thunderclap headaches, which struck at random times over the next few days before he checked into hospital.

At first doctors couldn't figure out the link between the chilli pepper and the headaches, until a CT scan showed several arteries in his brain had constricted, known as reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS)

Usually RCVS is caused by reactions to medications or illicit drugs. This is the first time it's been reported as a result of eating a hot pepper, according to BMJ Case Reports.

The headaches soon cleared up, and a scan five weeks later showed his arteries were back to normal.

The Carolina Reaper was recognised as the hottest chilli in the world in 2013 by Guinness World Records, with a Scoville heat rating of 1.6 million.

Its creator, Ed Currie, has since crossbred the Reaper to create 'Pepper X', which he says is twice as hot. That one's yet to be confirmed by Guinness.