How chili peppers can kill

In the latest "dose makes the poison" news: If you consume enough chili peppers (or even chili powder), it can act as a neurotoxin.


  1. Halfway through the article I started to feel flush followed by tiny beads of sweat breaking out on my brow and scalp.  This also happens every time I pause in the grocery store aisle and read salsa/hot sauce labels.  I enjoy hot sauces but no longer keep items like Dave’s Insanity Sauce in the house.  I’ll wait until the grandchildren get older.

    1. Horrible people, always looking for ways to enact corporal punishment without bruises or dragging CPS into the picture.

    2. Forcing children to eat vile or painful things as punishment is probably as old as the human race.  Every heard of washing a child’s mouth out with soap?

      1. I was once given the option of brushing my teeth with Dawn dish washing detergent. It seemed like a novel experience, so I went with that over chewing a bar of Coast soap. The liquid on the toothbrush was foamier than I was expecting. A lot foamier.

      2. “Speak roughly to your little boy,
        And beat him when he sneezes:
        He only does it to annoy,
        Because he knows it teases.”


        (in which the cook and the baby joined):

        “Wow! wow! wow!”

        While the Duchess sang the second verse of the song, she kept tossing the baby violently up and down, and the poor little thing howled so, that Alice could hardly hear the words:

        “I speak severely to my boy,
        I beat him when he sneezes;
        For he can thoroughly enjoy
        The pepper when he pleases!”


        “Wow! wow! wow!”

  2. I call bullshit. FTFA:
     A search of the scientific literature turned up no chili powder-related deaths
    The deaths they do cite came from asphyxiation, about which they say,
    Asphyxia deaths from inhalation have been noted for non-food items like talcum powder and sand
    So the kids are dying mainly by having their airway blocked, not by any “neurotoxic” effect.

    1. This, too, from the article:
      “If inhaled, capsaicin stimulates bronchopulmonary nociceptive C-fibers which can provoke apnea (temporary cessation of respiration), rapid shallow breathing, mucus secretion, bronchoconstriction (constriction of the smooth muscle of the airways in the lungs), and cough. In the most extreme cases, death by asphyxia3 (lack of oxygen) has occured.”

      Asphyxia can be caused by particulate matter physically blocking the airways, as you pointed out, as well as chemically with that nociceptive C-fiber thing.

  3. It seems the cause of death due to mis-use and abuse of weaponized concentrated Oleoresin Capsicum perpetrated by law enforcement officers is usually asphyxiation, not neurologic (sometimes combined with postural/ compressional stresses of being piled upon, and asthmatic propensity of the victim arrestee  )  How many cases of this homicide by “less than lethal” pepper spray have been recorded?  no time to research that right now, but here is MSDS with LD-50 (oral (47 mg /kg is not very potent for toxins) and dermal much higher) for some poor mouse that died a very spicy death for science)

    1. Exactly. This was death by asphyxiation. I realize that might be like saying someone died of ‘old age’ instead of a specific cancer. But the actual ‘but for’ causes of human death are usually much more ape-in-the-bushes-I-can’t-believe-THAT-actually-killed-me ‘effects’ (sepsis, asphyxiation, cardiac arrest) of more complex ’causes’ (cancer, heart disease, chili peppers…). 

      So it’s misleading to imply that chilis are going somehow lower your IQ. Frankly, too much PLEASURE is probably neurotoxic (re: dopamine flooding, or at least oxidation vis-a-vis dopamine). From food, sex, drugs, whatever.

  4. Stephen Fry’s repsonse to the phrase “well, too much is bad for you!” refers:

    “Of course too much is bad for you.  THAT’S WHAT “TOO MUCH” MEANS!”

  5.  We’re all living in a place where everything can kill us immediately. Living is all about reaching an equilibrium profiting the things that can only kill us more slowly. What puzzles me always is that people receive money to do such studies.

    1. We’re all living in a place where everything can kill us immediately.

      I don’t know about you, but I’m not living in Australia.

      1. Don’t be mean to your cousins down under ;o)  In French we also have a saying that goes like : “Ne fait pas l’âne pour avoir du son” which translates roughly to : “Do not play the donkey to get some wheat”. I think that equates to the English saying : “Don’t act dumb to get what you want” but that’s not as full of imagery as the French saying is :)

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