I’m a temperamental chico. Eat me, and your blood pressure and heart rate go up. It’s not harmful, though – in fact, I can be very good for you. The capsaicin I contain – the same stuff that gives me a hot taste – can be a very healthy substance.

For instance, I am often given to people with pain caused by overstimulated nerves in the skin; a capsaicin plaster on the skin binds capsaicin to the overstimulated nerve cells and they become less sensitive to pain.

I’m sometimes used to help people with chronic nasal complaints, such as a blocked or dripping nose. And it’s said that I can be good for losing weight, because eating me makes the body better able to burn fats.

We can’t be sure that’s true. You’d have to eat about half a kilo of chili peppers a day before you could expect to see any effect on your body weight – and that’s a lot, even for a serious chili pepper lover.

You do have to watch out with a few members of my pepper family, though. After an American man had taken part in a hot pepper eating competition and had eaten a whole Carolina Reaper, the hottest pepper in the world, he had dry heaves and excruciating neck pain,

followed a few days later by ‘thunderclap headaches’, sudden and severe episodes of intense pain. He was rushed to hospital, where they found that arteries in his brain arteries had constricted.

The man was the first ever person to be given this diagnosis after eating a pepper. He eventually recovered, but it was a close thing. ¡Dios mío!