Posted June 30, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

Why it hurts so good

From Cleveland.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2005
It burns! It burns! Why?

Capsaicinoids are the chemicals that give peppers their heat. They are present in almost every pepper, and their most common form is capsaicin.

The capsaicinoids in chile hot sauces bond to receptors in the lining of the mouth, the same receptors that register pain from heat, thus producing a burning feeling. In peppers, the highest concentration is found not in the seeds but in the inner lining.

In high concentrations, capsaicin can be toxic and so painful as to be incapacitating. That’s why a concentrated form is used in pepper sprays.

It burns, but I feel pretty good. Why?

When the body feels pain, it releases neurotransmitters called endorphins. These are natural painkillers and can produce an overall sense of well-being. It’s what produces a “runner’s high” and a “hot sauce high.”

Too hot! What can I do?

Don’t drink beer or water. That only will spread the burn around your mouth. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese do the best job of breaking the chemical bond between the capsaicin and your mouth lining. Bread also can help soak up the pain.

– Jim Sweeney Source: Royal Society of Chemistry

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog