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Thread: Why do spices cause heat when eaten?

  1. #1 Why do spices cause heat when eaten? 
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    How come spices - despite being at a neutral/normal temperature by itself, cause you to become hot and the mouth to "burn" when digested. Is the heat not heat but just a painful effect? Is it because spices contain high amounts of energy and reacts with enzymes in the mouth in a way that causes it to release this energy?

    Trivial question, I know :P


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    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Are you referring to peppers? That would be capsaicin. Capsaicin is a natural defense against would-be grazers. If you are referring to other spices "I.E, turmeric, and the flavorful Fennel Seed", I would suspect it's to entice animals to eat them in order to spread seeds. I may be wrong, I don't know much about this, but used to cook quite a bit and also grow spices.


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    ▼▼ dn ʎɐʍ sıɥʇ ▼▼ RedPanda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    How come spices - despite being at a neutral/normal temperature by itself, cause you to become hot and the mouth to "burn" when digested. Is the heat not heat but just a painful effect?
    Correct.
    Your mouth may actually get warmer (as your body pumps more blood to your mouth) but that is your body's heat and not the pepper's heat.
    SayBigWords.com/say/3FC

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    has lost interest seagypsy's Avatar
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    For most people, I suspect it is a mild allergic reaction the capsaicin, as shlunka said. Watery eyes, burning or mild inflammation of delicate tissues like the tongue and mouth.

    I think it is interesting that an irritant can be used as a topical analgesic too. I have used hot sauce to get rid of heart burn pretty effectively. It also clears my sinuses at the same time.lol.
    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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  6. #5  
    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    well hot makes me sick to my stomach......mild I can do....
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    ▼▼ dn ʎɐʍ sıɥʇ ▼▼ RedPanda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    well hot makes me sick to my stomach......mild I can do....
    How did you puny humans get to the top of the food chain when your taste-buds are so flimsy?!?
    Last edited by RedPanda; August 22nd, 2013 at 05:14 AM.
    SayBigWords.com/say/3FC

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    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    Capsaicin stimulates sensory neurons that normally function in sensing thermal stress. That's where the "burn" comes from. Those neurons in turn cause a response to this perceived stress - flushing, sweating, inflammation etc. Even though there is no heat stress in your mouth, your body acts as if there is. It's basically mostly all a sensory illusion and your body's subsequent response to that false stimulus.


    Seasoned chili eaters have lower receptor levels and so don't feel the burn as much as those that are unused to chillies.
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    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    well hot makes me sick to my stomach......mild I can do....
    How did you puny humans get to the top of the food chain when your taste-buds are so flimsy?!?
    I am 5'3 and 95-100 pounds...I AIN'T PUNY buster!!

    Now you can get on both knees and beg my forgiveness for calling me PUNY!

    I am tougher than NAILS.....my husband once said I have more balls then most men, and mine are made of STEEL....

    GLARE!

    Now be a good Panda.

    before my major car wreck....my tummy didn't mind spicy...but after when they had me on all sorts of things ......it did a lot of stomach damage.....so now I have to be a good girl....and eat mild but not spicy *sobbing in my milk*
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    ▼▼ dn ʎɐʍ sıɥʇ ▼▼ RedPanda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    I AIN'T PUNY buster!!
    ALL you humans are puny compared to us Ubermechanoids!!
    Bow down before your new masters!!
    (Actually - can you skip the bowing for now. I'm meant to be undercover.)

    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    before my major car wreck....my tummy didn't mind spicy...but after when they had me on all sorts of things ......it did a lot of stomach damage.....so now I have to be a good girl....and eat mild but not spicy *sobbing in my milk*
    SayBigWords.com/say/3FC

    "And, behold, I come quickly;" Revelation 22:12

    "Religions are like sausages. When you know how they are made, you no longer want them."
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  11. #10  
    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    I AIN'T PUNY buster!!
    ALL you humans are puny compared to us Ubermechanoids!!
    Bow down before your new masters!!
    (Actually - can you skip the bowing for now. I'm meant to be undercover.)

    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    before my major car wreck....my tummy didn't mind spicy...but after when they had me on all sorts of things ......it did a lot of stomach damage.....so now I have to be a good girl....and eat mild but not spicy *sobbing in my milk*
    Well, you became quite naked Sir Red Panda! Here are some of the "Emperor's New Clothes". *chuckle* I really like that transparent blue one....brings out your...well let's just say it's STUNNING!
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Capsaicin in chillies is there to stop mammals eating the fruit. Of course, that no longer works, because humans have bred milder chillies. The original wild chilly is so hot it is inedible.

    Evolution did this to ensure that the fruit is eaten by birds, which are insensitive to capsaicin. Birds have a milder digestive system, which preserves the seeds inside the hot fruit. Mammal digestion destroys the seeds.

    This trick is also employed by deadly nightshade, which has berries ultra bitter and toxic to mammals, but not birds.
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    Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seagypsy View Post
    For most people, I suspect it is a mild allergic reaction the capsaicin
    Just no.
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
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    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    I read yesterday that capsaicin's primary function is as a microbial toxin active against pathogenic fungi. That mammals are deterred is seen (at least according this particular study) as a secondary effect - two birds with one stone as it were.


    Pop Sci ref: What's so hot about chili peppers?
    Scholarly ref: Evolutionary ecology of pungency in wild chilies
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  15. #14  
    AI's Have More Fun Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    It's basically mostly all a sensory illusion and your body's subsequent response to that false stimulus.
    If you ever had pepper spray in the face you would be very hard pressed convincing yourself it's only a sensory illusion.
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  16. #15  
    Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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    In a nutshell, Capsaicin "fools" the brain that it is causing damage (where it isn't actually burning), causing the brain to release its pain control (endorphins). I am a chilli addict and when I have particularly bad days they cause my ears to pop.
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
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  17. #16  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Capsaicin can also cause blistering as a chemical irritant, which can support the sense of the spice being "hot" or supposedly causing heat.

    "One milligram of pure capsaicin placed on your hand would feel like a red-hot poker and would surely blister the skin," said capsaicin expert Marlin Bensinger.
    ...

    most people react very negatively to the super-hot sauces, experiencing severe burning and sometimes blistering of the mouth and tongue.
    I don't know the exact reason, but oils and fats tend to counteract capsaicins effects, which is why drinking milk or eating peanut butter helps.

    Caution — If you are sympathetic toward animals, don't read the "toxicity" section of the webpage.
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  18. #17  
    AI's Have More Fun Bad Robot's Avatar
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    The following link is to the strongest pepper spray on the market. If you like it hot this do it.

    The Home Security Superstore - Fox Labs Pepper Spray 2 oz Stream - 22FTS - Home Security Solutions
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  19. #18  
    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    All I know is I get sicker than a dog if I eat too spicy food. Since my car wreck....(and all the damn crap they give you to make you *feel better*) my tummy just doesn't handle it and I'm usually ill within an hour....I'll stick with very very mild.....I learned to make Ceviche and yum yum yum! ...but then again..not spicy but with a lot of flavor
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