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Food & Drink

Dragon’s Breath Chili, the new chili pepper that can actually kill you



dragons breath chili
Photo of the Dragon's Breath Chili. (Photo via Mike Smith/Twitter)

Move over Carolina Reaper, there is a new pepper so hot it can literally kill you. The Dragon’s Breath Chilli has entered the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s hottest chili.

The Dragon’s Breath Chilli was bred by Welsh horticulturist Mike Smith. The new pepper clocks in at an astounding 2.48 million heat units on the Scoville scale. To put that number into perspective, jalapeño peppers range from 2,500 and 10,000 heat units. The former king of peppers, the Carolina Reaper, clocks in between 1.4 million and 2.2 million heat units.

“I’ve tried it on the tip of my tongue, and it just burned and burned. I spat it out in about 10 seconds,” Smith said to the Daily Post.

According to the professor of horticulture at New Mexico State University Paul Bousland, the first sensation that is felt is numbness.

“What’s happening is that your receptors in your mouth are sending a signal to your brain that there’s pain, and it’s in the form of hotness or heat, and so your brain produces endorphins to block that pain,” Bosland told Live Science. “The body is sensing a burn, and it’s sacrificing the top layer of cells to say, ‘OK, they’re going to die now to prevent letting the heat get farther into the body,'”

Blistering does not aid when consuming the Dragon’s Breath Chilli, however. The capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers, is so concentrated, it permeates the blisters, activating the nerve endings underneath. Bosland stated the burning sensation can last up to 20 minutes.

According to a report by Live Science, the concentrated capsaicin contained in the chili can cause the immune system to “go into overdrive” and overwhelm the body’s burn defenses. This can lead to anaphylactic shock, severe burns and prove to be fatal by closing the person’s airways.

Smith created the pepper in partnership with Nottingham Trent University as an asset to medicine, to be used as a topical anesthetic.

“This was developed because a lot of people are allergic to anesthetic, and this can be applied to the skin because it is so strong it numbs it,” said Smith.

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