What Happens to Your Body When You Eat a Super-Hot Chile Pepper?

It’s not exactly pretty
habanero chiles

Photo Modified: Flickr/ jeffreyw/ CC4.0

Hababero peppers are about 100 times spicier than jalapeños.

When you eat something spicy, the resulting effect is unlike anything else in the culinary world. Your mouth feels like it’s on fire. While some people love the feeling, it can also be a decidedly unpleasant one. But what exactly happens to your body when you eat a spicy chile pepper?

When you eat a hot pepper, the capsaicin in it binds to a receptor in your mouth, which happens to be the same receptor that registers pain from heat, leading to a burning feeling. This pain releases endorphins, a natural painkiller that also gives you a happy and content feeling.

Unfortunately for chileheads, however, capsaicin is a neurotoxin, and while it would take a whole lot of it to kill someone (about three pounds of powdered ghost chiles eaten all at once, according to Live Science) your body sees it as an irritant that must be flushed out of the body. If you eat something that’s extremely spicy, effects will include a runny nose and watery eyes as well as increased saliva production. Your brain will think that you’re overheating so you’ll start sweating. It’ll also irritate your digestive tract on the way down, possibly leading to stomach trouble and vomiting.

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So if you’re considering eating a whole ghost chile, be prepared to deal with the consequences!