Food Science Friday : Chillies!
Bite into a hot pepper and it feels a lot like you’ve taken a sip of a hot drink.
How can something that’s not hot in temperature produce the same reactions as something that is hot? Reactions like pain or sweating?
Capsaicin, you cheeky devil!
Chilli’s are abundant in this chemical known as Capsaicin.
Image source: Flickr CC user Chris Potako
This chemical stimulates both the temperature and pain receptors.
It simultaneously tells that you are experiencing an increase in temperature as well as pain!
Your Brain Is Confused
Your brain gets these confusing signals and is not quite sure if you are just being subjected to moderate warmth or being burned.
To be on the safer side of things, the nervous system responds to the more severe stimulus: pain.
Ergo, the body reacts in the same way as if its being subjected a burn, i.e pain, sweating and flushing.
You respond to the brain’s message by gulping a cool drink to quench the perceived burn. Its remarkable how the whole system cycles around.
We are a wondrous species
We have amazingly taken a response that triggers the senses to combat against a perceived burn, and have somehow made that pleasurable.
Bedazzles me every time.
Chillies are not ‘hot’ when one is discerning about Temperature ( as this thermal image also elucidates ). Please do not be confused by the ambiguity in the usage of the term.