Thursday, June 19, 2008
Why does spicy food make your nose run?
Chili peppers contain an active compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin is an irritant which produces a burning sensation in any issue that comes in contact with it. Capsaicin is also believed to stimulate the fibres of the nervous system that control the quantity and thickness of mucus secreted in the nasal passages. Therefore, it makes your nose run.
Capsaicin is not water soluble meaning that water and most liquids won't alleviate the burning sensation. Dairy products are the most effective form of relief since the casein found in these products acts to detach capsaicin from nerve receptors.
Heat in peppers is measured on the Scoville scale.
0-100 Scoville units includes most bell/sweet peppers
16 000 000 Scoville units is pure capsaicin.
According to the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records, the Bhut Jolokia chili pepper (aka Naga Jolokia) of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, is the hottest chili pepper in the world.
In 2005, the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute measured a Scoville rating for the Naga Jolokia pepper of 1 001 304- just a bit lower than standard US pepper spray (2 000 000)!
That'll get your nose running for a while!
Leyner M, Goldberg B. Why do men have nipples? NY: Three Rivers Press. 2005.