Saturday, 14 September 2013
What If You Eat an Entire Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Chili Pepper?
Life's Little Mysteries asked Paul Bosland, professor of horticulture at New Mexico State University and director of the Chile Pepper Institute. Bosland and colleagues recently identified the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion as hottest of all the varieties of Capsicum chinense peppers — the species that also includes the previous world record holder for hotness, Bhut Jolokia, as well as the closely related Trinidad Scorpion pepper.
Based on his descriptions, it's unclear which would be worse: Popping a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper in your mouth, or popping an actual scorpion in your mouth.
When you eat a reasonably spicy pepper, your mouth goes numb, Bosland said. That's a pain response. "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," he explained.
When you eat an unreasonably spicy Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper, on the other hand, numbness doesn't cut it. Your body steps up its defense mechanisms by instantaneously inflating liquid-filled balloons of sorts inside your oral cavity. "You would typically get blistering in your mouth and your throat as you were swallowing," Bosland said. By putting these high-heat-capacity cushions (blisters) under the top layer of your skin, your body is attempting to absorb heat entering through that layer. "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.'"
But in the case of Trinidad Moruga Scorpions, even blisters don't stop the burn. These peppers contain so much capsaicin that the chemical permeates the blisters and keeps activating receptors in the nerve endings underneath, causing ferocious burning sensations for 20 minutes or more, Bosland said.,What behavioral effect would this drawn-out torture have? As several YouTube videos attest, it makes even the most seasoned chili aficionados beg for their mommies. Pepper tasters end up vomiting, washing their mouths out with cheese whiz and shoving cheesecake up their noses. (Dairy products contain casein, a protein that surrounds and neutralizes the capsaicin compounds in chili peppers.)