World's hottest pepper leads to 'thunderclap' headache

It’s a no-brainer that eating a Carolina Reaper, a chili pepper bred to be the hottest on earth, will come with consequences.

But for the first time, consuming these peppers have been linked to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome, or RCVS, a temporary artery narrowing in the brain often accompanied by agonizing thunderclap headaches, according to journal BMJ Case Reports. Such headaches are typically brief but agonizing.

An unnamed man had to seek emergency care after participating in hot chili pepper-eating contest left him with a storm of “thunderclap” headaches for days.

The pain was excruciating enough to warrant tests for neurological conditions, which came back negative. But a CT scan showed that several brain arteries had constricted.

RELATED: The hottest peppers in the world: 

The hottest peppers in the world
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The hottest peppers in the world
The rare Naga Viper chilli is 250 times hotter than a jalapeño and cultivated in the UK. The average SHU for this spicy pepper is 1,382,118.
The infinity pepper, sometimes known as the "Ghost Chili" held the Guinness World Record title for the world's hottest chili for two weeks in February 2011. This pepper comes in at 1,067,286 average SHU. 
The Red Savina Habanero ruled the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's hottest pepper from 1994-2006. According to NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute, the average SHU is 450,000.
The Fatalii pepper brings a hint of citrus to this spicy list and, according to the Scoville Food Institute, ranges from 125,000 to 400,000 SHU.
The scotch bonnet pepper has a lot of nicknames - Boabs Bonnet, Scotty Bons, Caribbean red peppers and several others. This pepper comes in close to habanero, rating between 100,000-350,000 SHU.
The habanero pepper is fairly well known and barely cracks the top 20 hottest peppers, rated between 100,000-350,000 SHU.

Doctors concluded that the patient had thunderclap headaches from RCVS, which has previously been associated with prescription and illegal drugs. And, now, Carolina Reapers.

Previously eating cayenne pepper has been linked to sudden constriction of the coronary artery.

“Given the development of symptoms immediately after exposure to a known vasoactive substance, it is plausible that our patient had RCVS secondary to the Carolina Reaper,” write the authors.

The man’s symptoms cleared up by themselves. And a CT scan 5 weeks later showed that his affected arteries had returned to their normal width.

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