Man struck by 'thunderclap' headaches after eating world's hottest chilli

The Carolina Reaper also known as the HP22B is a cultivar of Capsicum chinense. Image credit Magnolia677  CC BY 4.0

The Carolina Reaper also known as the HP22B is a cultivar of Capsicum chinense. Image credit Magnolia677 CC BY 4.0

A FOODIE bit off more than he could chew by tackling the world's hottest chilli.

This led to a diagnosis of "thunderclap headache secondary to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome [RCVS]", the case study's authors wrote.

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.

Immediately he began dry heaving and then developed intense neck and head pain starting at the back which then spread across the whole of the head.

It is commonly known as "a thunderclap headache", which was described as a "very severe form of a headache by Gunasekaran and it develops a sudden pain which goes to peak within seconds".

The man's RCVS symptoms reportedly disappeared on their own, and a CT scan performed five weeks after the incident showed that his arteries had returned to normal.

This is the first time it is reported that eating chili (such as- Carolina Reaper) can cause thunderclap headaches.

With a blistering 1.57 million on the Scoville heat scale, the Carolina Reaper is not a chilli to be messed with.

CT angiography showing unexpected luminal narrowing in the left supraclinoid internal carotid artery M1 segment of bilateral middle cerebral arteries and P1 segments of bilateral posterior cerebral arteries consistent with vasospasm  CT angiogra

Apparently, she didn't learn her lesson in 2014 when she tried Currie's first round of Carolina Reapers.

Doctors say RCVS can occur as a reaction to prescription drugs, or after taking illegal drugs. "Capsaicin, the key ingredient in the pepper, is a vasoactive substance, so it could potentially narrow the blood vessels to the most important organs like the heart and brain", he added. However, eating cayenne pepper has been linked to heart attacks and a narrowing of the blood vessels in the heart, known as coronary vasospasm, according to the report.

"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.

Some people like to do this sort of thing in private - testing their powers of endurance for reasons only they know - while for others competing against fellow hot-pepper fanatics is the name of the game.

The man's symptoms improved within days.

Three competitors, who are not involved in this story or case report, are seen participating in a chili pepper eating competition in Ningxiang, China.

For the average person interested in spice, not suffering, he advised using small amounts of any really hot pepper in food preparation, as they were intended.

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