Hottest Pepper In The World Causes 'Thunderclap' Headache

Sorry, but no eating competition is worth a trip to the ER

Recently, a daring man shook up the food-competition circuit when he ate a Carolina Reaper, which the Guinness World Records calls the world's hottest pepper. But after swallowing it, instead of basking in the painfully spicy glory of victory, he became the face of its potential for injury when he suffered from "thunderclap" headaches.

His efforts were noble, but his body simply wasn't having it. According to his case report, the 34-year-old suffered dry heaving in the charged moments following the bite. This common reaction was followed by "excruciating" pain for which he went to the emergency room. The pain was focused in his neck and head, while scans showed he was suffering from "severe acute headache(s)" diagnosed as seconds-long "thunderclap" headaches.

According to The New York Times, these headaches can "indicate the kind of stroke that results from bleeding in the brain." It also reports the man's particular sensitivity to capsaicin, the chemical in the pepper that makes it hot and affects blood vessels.

The Carolina Reaper burst onto the scene in 2013 and delivers such a scorch that it begs comparison. Walk on a bed of Legos while barefoot? It's more painful than that. Burn yourself while ironing? It's hotter than that. If that doesn't help, the pepper measures more than 1.5 million on the Scoville heat scale.