Category Archives: Phil’s Pepper Particulars

The Dangerous Dragon’s Breath Pepper

There’s a new weapons-grade pepper in town and its one that you should absolutely, positively avoid at all costs. You don’t want this nightmare of a pepper in your kitchen, and you absolutely, positively don’t want this creature in your mouth.

Developed for medicinal purposes as a topical anesthetic – and not human consumption – the “Dragon’s Breath” pepper has such a high level of concentrated capsaicin that once ingested, it could trigger the immune system of the human body to go into overdrive.

To put heat like this into perspective, we must look at the Scoville scale. This scale measures the “hotness” of different peppers, more specifically the amount of capsaicin in each pepper. Police and military-grade pepper spray register as a solid 2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU) on the scale, the Caroline Reaper pepper comes in at an incredible 2.2 million SHUs, and the Dragon’s Breath comes in at a frightening 2.48 million SHUs.

Whenever you eat a reasonably spicy pepper, the capsaicin contained inside activates the proteins found on nerve endings in your mouth. Receptors send a signal to your brain. In response, your brain produces endorphins to block (numb) that pain. But, were you to eat a Dragon’s Breath pepper – with such an insanely high level of capsaicin – those protein activations can mistakenly be interpreted by the brain as a signal of extreme heat entering the body – such as getting burnt in a fire. Your body will step up its defense mechanisms by instantaneously inflating liquid-filled blisters inside your oral cavity. By putting these high-heat-capacity cushions under the top layer of your skin, your body is attempting to absorb the heat entering through that layer. It begins to kill layer after layer of cells to prevent the heat from getting further into the body. But because these peppers contain so much capsaicin, the chemical continues to permeate the blisters, keeping the nerve ending receptors underneath activated, and causing a ferocious cycle of burning sensations for 30 minutes or more.

Reactions like anaphylactic shock, severe burns, airways closure and death are all possible with this very extreme pepper.

Capsicum & Capsaicin

Capsicumalso known as red or green pepper, Chili pepper, or just pepper in Britain and the US – is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae. The fruit of most species of Capsicum contains capsaicin. Capsaicin is an active chemical component that can produce a strong burning sensation in any tissue with which it comes into contact.

Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as secondary metabolites by peppers, probably as deterrents against certain mammals and fungi. Pure capsaicin is a hydrophobic, colorless, highly pungent, and crystalline to waxy compound.

Capsaicin is present in large quantities in the placental tissue (which holds the seeds), the internal membranes and, to a lesser extent, the other fleshy parts of the fruits. The seeds themselves do not produce any capsaicin, although the highest concentration of capsaicin can be found in the white pith of the inner wall, where the seeds are attached.

Primarily because of the burning sensation caused when it comes into contact with mucous membranes, capsaicin is commonly used in food products to provide added spice or “heat” – usually in the form of spices such as chili powder, curry and paprika.