Do you like spice in your food? Some people can’t stand it, while others like spice enough to join pepper eating contests. But spicy peppers can have unpredictable effects on the body.
Recently a man in a pepper eating contest ate a Carolina reaper, the hottest pepper in the world, and ended up in the hospital with thunderclap headaches. These headaches are incredibly severe and usually indicate a stroke, but in this case they were a reaction to the high levels of capsaicin in the pepper. Capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers spicy, has shown interesting results in clinical studies. Some people use it topically to alleviate pain and there’s research into its effect in lowering blood pressure, but capsaicin has also been linked to a few nonfatal heart attacks.
If you’re looking for a spicy thrill, it’s best to start slow until you know how capsaicin affects you. And if you’ve eaten something that’s too hot for you, don’t chug milk! Besides pain, capsaicin in higher concentrations can cause nausea, and chugging milk is likely to make you throw up. Instead, try a glass of orange juice; citrus seems to work best at calming down spice pain.