One of the hottest (pun intended, I guess) trends on the internet is videos of people attempting to eat (or smoke or vaporize or we don’t even want to know what else) some of the world’s hottest peppers: things with names like Carolina Reapers, Komodo Dragons and your good ol’ fashioned Ghost Pepper. If you’ve seen these videos, you know the drill: a lot of agony, running around, vomiting, etc. Even if you haven’t seen these videos, you can probably assume that no one’s ever gone viral by downing a pepper, shrugging and saying, “That was easy.”
But according to The Daily Meal, if you really want to kill it in a pepper challenge, a legit way does exist to down a handful of these 1 million-plus Scoville Heat Unit peppers and walk away unscathed. Apparently, scientists have created what is essentially a hot pepper antidote – a synthetically modified version of the spicy compound capsaicin called capsazepine that is able to block the capsaicin receptor, effectively eliminating the painful effects of active ingredient in hot peppers. Though if you’ve already eaten a Carolina Reaper, it’s too late: The chemical has to be used beforehand.
Unfortunately, capsazepine “is quite expensive,” Dr Daniel Kopp, formerly of the University of Missouri, was quoted as saying, “and [it] can only be purchased by researchers as its safety in humans hasn’t yet been confirmed.” Plus, in some even more unsettling news, though capsazepine can prevent capsaicin from burning on your tongue, it can’t prevent negative side effects in other parts of your body – such as (cough) excretion.
So what’s the point of making this spice preventer? The hope is that the compound may help researchers develop effective painkillers, according to Science Daily. That makes sense. But what scientists really need to work on is a chemical that prevents people on YouTube from being so dumb in the first place.