The 34-year-old developed agonising symptoms after trying the “Carolina Reaper” during a hot pepper competition, medics have revealed.
A scan showed several arteries in his brain had temporarily narrowed, causing severe episodic “thunderclap” headaches.
Doctors warned that taking part in hot chilli contests could have unexpected consequences, as they published details of the incident in journal BMJ Case Reports.
The man, who has not been identified, immediately began dry heaving after sampling the chilli, the US authors said in the paper.
Over the following days, he developed “intense” neck pain and headaches, each of which lasted just a few seconds.
The pain was so severe that he sought emergency treatment and he was tested for multiple neurological conditions, the results of which all came back negative.
However a CT scan showed several arteries in the man’s brain had constricted and he was diagnosed with reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS).
The condition – a temporary artery narrowing often accompanied by “thunderclap” headaches – can be caused by certain prescription medications or illegal drugs.
But the authors said this is the first time it has been linked with eating chilli peppers.
The man’s symptoms cleared up on their own and a CT scan five weeks later showed his arteries had returned to their normal width, the authors said.
The Guinness World Record for the hottest chilli is currently held by The PuckerButt Pepper Company in the US for its Smokin Ed’s “Carolina Reaper”, which rates at an average of 1,569,300 Scoville heat units.
A Jalapeño pepper typically rates between 2,500 to 5,000 units on the scale.