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Q: Do "insanity peppers" really exist? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Do "insanity peppers" really exist?
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: chance0110-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 19 Apr 2004 22:38 PDT
Expires: 19 May 2004 22:38 PDT
Question ID: 332912
There is an episode of the Simpsons where Homer eats chilli with
"insanity peppers" and starts hallucinating. Is it actually possible
to eat something so spicy it causes temporarty insanity and
hallucinations? Does such a pepper exist?
Subject: Re: Do "insanity peppers" really exist?
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 20 Apr 2004 01:51 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello there

I am addicted to chili peppers.  It is next to impossible to create a
dish that is too hot for me to eat.  I will sniff, cry, blurble,
sweat, and more - - I love every minute of it.  The easiest way to
find a "pepper fraud" is to watch the way they eat them.  If they
pretend nothing bothers them, try not to cry and blubber, they are
probably hot pepper fakes, frauds, who are just trying to show off.  A
true pepper lover cries and blubbers with the best of them.  Pepper
officianados just go with the flow (of tears) and sweat proudly.

Is there such a thing as a pepper which has the ability to produce
hallucinations?  Well, yes and no.  Much of what was presented in the
Simpsons was likely a play on words for comedic reasons.


"Endorphins, those natural drugs that are 100 to 1,000 times more
powerful than morphine, are released into our brain when we eat hot
chile peppers, according to Dr. Frank Etscorn of New Mexico University
(who also holds the first patent on the nicotene patch). Like other
psychotropics, including peyote, coca and tabacco, chile peppers alter
our state of consciousness. In the case of chile peppers the high is
non-hallucinogenic, but it is addictive. Chili addicts are hooked on
endorphins. "We get slightly strung out, but it's no big deal," he
says." - Quote from The Veiled Chameleon

"We need a fix of red or green chile with a side order of endorphins,"
said Dr. Frank Etscorn, then an experimental psychologist at New
Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, and inventor of
the nicotine patch, in a 1990 article for the Albuquerque Journal. "We
get slightly strung out on endorphins, but it's no big deal. That year
he posed a theory that the warm afterglow and the constant craving for
chile are due to capsaicin triggering the release of the body's
natural painkillers called endorphins, which have been called "the
body's natural opiates," are the cause of the so-called runner's high,
and are capable of turning a painful experience into a pleasurable
one." - From the Chili Pepper Counterculture Robb Walsh, Austin
Chronicle, Friday, May 3, 1991

More on peppers and "runners high." - "Exercisers Get
Workout Boost From New Hot Pepper Nasal Spray"

"The chemical capsicin is fooling your nerves into believing that they
are burning in hell, when in fact nothing is wrong with them at all.
And your dumb body rushes all those painkillers to those special
receptors in the brain. That's a pretty good practical joke, huh? Pass
the hot sauce." - Quote from The Veiled chameleon - but I wish it were

So, overall, while the pepper is a vegetable which has consciousness
altering properties, it is not 'officially" considered to have an
hallucinogenic property.  I emphasize the word "officially" as there
are those who consider any element of consciousness altering at all,
as a hallucination.  That is why I said "yes and no" in my opening. 
The definition of "hallucination" is somewhat subjective in popular

However, when dealing with the effects of chili peppers on Homer
Simpson, all bets are off.  Have you ever seen him after just one

Search - Google
Terms - chili peppers, mind altering qualities of chili peppers, chili
pepper hallucinogenic properties, capsicin

Websites and print references used are included within the answer text.

If I may clarify anything, please ask.


PS, there are Guatemalan Insanity Peppers - but they are a music group.

Clarification of Answer by digsalot-ga on 30 Apr 2004 10:46 PDT
Thank you for the kind words and the extra.  We look forward to being
of service again if you need us.

chance0110-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Great answer. Thanks so much!

Subject: Re: Do "insanity peppers" really exist?
From: cmiller-ga on 20 Apr 2004 03:49 PDT
The Red Savino hybrid habanero is the hottest pepper known. I too am a
pepper head, and love to eat the hottest.  These hybrid 'habs' are
three to five times hotter than a habanero on the Scoville scale.

Although it doesn't list Red Savino on this chart, here is a link for
you to look at:

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