Can you die eating ghost pepper?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “can you die eating ghost pepper?” with an in-depth analysis of how you can die eating ghost pepper?. Moreover, we will also discuss the reasons that cause death from ghost pepper.

Can you die eating ghost pepper?

Yes, we can die from eating ghost peppers. 

The capsaicinoids found in ghost peppers take a significant part in pharmacological applications. On the other hand, capsaicin is termed a “double-edged sword” since it was shown to have carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and genotoxic effects.

The acute toxicity of capsaicin changes depending on both animal species and the way of administration into the body. (1)

That said the pain and pungent sensation of capsaicin in the fruits will prevent the over consumption of this spice (2)

How can ghost peppers cause death?

The minimum lethal intragastric dose of capsaicin per kg was about 100 mg which would be contained in about 32,4 g dry weight of fruits . For a 60-kg person, this toxic level would be comparable to the consumption of about 1,94 kg of dry wt of capsicum fruits, an extremely high amount. (2)

The cause of death was attributed to the hypotension and respiratory paralysis in mice and rats. On the other hand, in a recent case report, acute consumption of a high amount of chili peppers caused an arterial hypertensive crisis in a patient. (1)

The ghost pepper, also known as bhut jolokia, is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world. Ghost peppers have a measured ‘‘heat’’ of > 1,000,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), more than twice that of a habanero pepper. 

A single seed from the ghost pepper can result in severe burning sensation of the mouth for up to 30 minutes post ingestion and ingestion of large quantities lead to violent retching that could lead to an esophageal perforation which carries a high mortality rate ranging from 20% to 40% .(3)


How to proceed if you eat too much pepper?

Various components of beverages may help mitigate the perceived burn of capsaicin through a variety of psychological, physiological, or physical mechanisms.

Many milk-based products contain a protein called casein, which can help break down capsaicin. Also it may partition into the fat phase, thereby limiting the number of capsaicin molecules available.  

. Capsaicin is an alkaline molecule, balancing it with acid can help neutralize the molecule’s activity. This means drinking or eating something acidic such as lemonade, limeade, orange juice or a tomato-based food item or drink may also help.

Suggesting beverages containing sucrose may be useful in mitigating excessive burn, either by the suppression of the burn sensation for sweetness or by the analgesic effects of sucrose that occur via the opioid system (4, 5)

If the overconsumption lead to vomiting, chest pain, and subcutaneous emphysema, medical aid should be contacted immediately (3)

Are ghost peppers healthy?

Yes, as it was said, capsaicin is termed a “double-edged sword”, but despite its carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and genotoxic effects, when consumed with moderation its  benefits of capsaicin far outweigh its risks.

Capsicum species also take a significant part in pharmacological applications, having therapeutic effects on several diseases such as urinary system disorders, obesity, renal failure, neuropathic pain, vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, dermatological disorders, and several types of cancer. (1)

It has been reported that capsaicin helps in reducing inflammatory heat and noxious chemical hyperalgesia and pain from rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. 

Capsaicin represses the growth of various malignant cell lines by induction of cycle arrest, apoptosis, autophagy and also by the inhibition of cellular metabolic activation.

It has been found that capsaicin was able to block breast cancer cell migration and kill prostate cancer cells. The metabolites of capsaicin (such as the reactive phenoxy radicals) can even attack the DNA and trigger the mutagenicity and malignant transformation 

Capsaicin can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases by inhibition of platelet aggregation and the activity of clotting factors. Capsaicin can pass through the plasma membrane of platelets and thus alter membrane fluidity.

It has been reported that capsaicinoids have potential beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system to treat various cardiovascular threats in human beings that include coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, hypertension and atherosclerosis.

Capsaicin was found to reduce body fat accumulation in animal experiments as well as clinical studies. The antiobesity effect of capsaicin showed that thermogenesis and lipid metabolism related proteins were markedly altered upon capsaicin treatment. (6)


In this brief guide, we have answered the question “can you die eating ghost pepper?” with an in-depth analysis of how you can die eating ghost pepper?. Moreover, we have also discussed the reasons that cause death from ghost pepper.


  1. Burcu Guldiken, Gizem Catalkaya, Gulay Ozkan, Fatma Duygu Ceylan, Esra Capanoglu, Chapter 21 – Toxicological effects of commonly used herbs and spices, Toxicology, Academic Press,  201-213, 2021.
  2. Glinsukon, T., Stitmunnaithum, V., Toskulkao, C., Buranawuti, T., & Tangkrisanavinont, V.  Acute toxicity of capsaicin in several animal species. Toxicon, 18(2), 215–220. 1980.
  3. Arens, A., Ben-Youssef, L., Hayashi, S., & Smollin, C.  Esophageal Rupture After Ghost Pepper Ingestion. The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 51(6), e141–e143. 2016.
  4. Nolden, A. A., Lenart, G., & Hayes, J. E.  Putting out the fire – Efficacy of common beverages in reducing oral burn from capsaicin. Physiology & Behavior. 2019.
  5. Muhammed Alparslan Gøkhan, Esben Skipper Sørensen, Lene Baad-Hansen, Role of dairy proteins in the reduction of capsaicin-induced oral burning pain, Physiology & Behavior, 259, 114036, 2023.
  6. Baruah, S. & Zaman, M.K. & Rajbongshi, P. & Das, Subra.  A review in recent researches in Bhut jolokia and pharmacological activity of capsaicin. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research. 24. 89-94. 2014.

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