Brian (digibri) wrote,

The danger of capsaicin

A story that I've told recently to several RL friends now has a new

Two weeks ago, a coworker brougt in a bottle of Blair's 3 AM Reserve
Pepper Extract
. This is a capsaicin
concentrate derived from peppers. It's not really a "sauce", but is instead
used as an ingredient to make very hot sauces. I explained (to comedic
effect) how the most miniscule amount on a chip filled my mouth with fiery

Last week (and again today), he brought in Blair's 6 AM
Reserve Pepper Extract (Extremely Limited)
. This is another sauce that
is quite a bit hotter. I shared with my friends over beers this weekend how
I had taken as small an amount as I could contrive to scrape onto a chip and
how I was astonished at the amount of heat and flavor.

The latest chapter occurred this morning.

One of my other coworkers came to try the latest hot stuff. Apparently, she
has rather inured tastebuds since she used to enter pepper eating contests.
Today she tried the Blair's 6 AM
Reserve Pepper Extract (Extremely Limited)
in a quantity that concerned
me. Whereas I had eaten an infintesimal iota, she took a plastic dinner
knife and spread the stuff on a chip. I did warn her to be careful, but of
course how was any of us to know.

She didn't have a problem with the taste. However, a few minutes later she
started sweating profusely and began having difficulty breathing. In
addition, both of her arms and hands were numb. Someone called the
paramedics who arrived promptly and took her to the hospital. Several of us
indicated to the EMTs that her problem probably was due to excessive
capsaicin ingestion.

I have tracked down the company that sells the stuff (Extreme Food) and called them.
Once she understood the situation, the lady with whom I spoke was extremely
cooperative. She called me back a few minutes later to report that they are
attempting to acquire the material data safety sheets or other safety
information and will fax it to me here at work. In addition, she mentioned
that the 6 Alarm stuff is 60% capsaicinoid.

Not long after I got off the phone, I called the cell phone of the coworker
who accompanied her to the hospital. After telling him what I had learned
(so he could tell the doctor), he gave me a report. Apparently, she was
feeling less naseaus and could now feel her arms and hands again; though she
still felt a significant tingling in her hands.


Additional links:
The Nature of

The Scoville Scale

Notice that the hottest pepper on record is just over a half million
scoville units. The sauce that caused my coworker problems this morning
varies from 10.3 - 16 million on the scoville scale.
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