For the adventurous (and slightly masochistic) eater, ghost peppers — the red hot chili that’s been likened to one of satan’s “prolapsed organs” in the looks department — are high on the list when it comes to “look at me, I tried it” bragging rights. In 2014, 1000 people made viral video history when they put their body in god’s hands and tried the peppers as a group (lots of crying!), and back in September of this year, 40 daring (but very stupid) kids had to be treated by paramedics after they decided to try the pepper en masse. That should already tell you that this chili means serious business (it’s still no Carolina Reaper, though).
Need even more prof that this Ghost peppers are not to be trifled with? Listen to the sad, strange ballad of a man who straight-up tore a hole in his throat after consuming ghost pepper puree. According to The Washington Post — which also points out that eating a ghost pepper will literally make you feel like you’re dying — a “rare but severe” case written up in The Journal Of Emergency Medicine tells the tale of a man who chose to try a spicy burger and shredded his esophagus.
As physicians at the University of California at San Francisco reported in the case study, he consumed the burger and attempted to quench the heat in his mouth with six glasses of water. When that failed the man began to vomit, which gave way to abdominal pain. He dialed emergency help.
At the emergency department, he received Maalox and painkillers. After his condition worsened, doctors moved him to the operating room, where they discovered a “2.5-cm tear in the distal esophagus,” about one inch, as the case report authors noted. The force of the vomiting and retching led to a rare diagnosis of Boerhaave’s syndrome; these spontaneous tears in the esophagus can be fatal if they are not diagnosed and treated.
First: Never try to stop the heat of a pepper with water, because that just spreads it around and makes it more terrible. Instead, have some milk or ice cream handy! But be warned that even that won’t help when peppers this hot are involved. The best that dairy can do, in this situation, is shorten the time during which you feel like your stomach hates you to death.
Second: No one here is going to tell you what to do with your life, but why the hell are you trying to put something that’s more akin to police-issued pepper spray than a garden variety jalapeno up in your face? You know that the entire thing has to travel through your digestive system, right? Can you even imagine eating something so hot that the force with which you vomit it will tear a hole through your insides (not to mentions what happens if it makes it to the other side)? And if you can: Why? Stop the madness!
According to Ann Arens, one of the researchers who put together the case study, it’s best to take a “Nancy Reagan” stance on such things. “Just say no,” Arens told The Washington Post, “but if you really just can’t help yourself, I would recommend just starting with a taste.”