Never drink water after eating a hot pepper

photo credit: Hot peppers are loaded with capsaicin, which binds to pain receptors in the mouth. CC0 Public Domain

Anybody who has ever wondered why consuming specific spicy foods makes your mouth feel as if it is on fire must take a peek at a new video released (see below) by the American Chemical Society, explaining the science behind a few of the globe’s most excruciating meals.

The primary culprit is a molecule named capsaicin, discovered inside the tissue of numerous hot peppers – which include the ghost chili, and the habanero and scotch bonnet – and will bind to pain receptors inside the mouth. It’ll stimulate your brain into coordinating a response made to get the invading material out of the human body as rapidly as possible, by making the nose run, eyes stream, and sweat start to pour. There even is a scale to measure the response’s intensity, named the Scoville scale.

But, instead of waiting for your body to naturally recover, pepper-stricken consumers may take matters into their own hand by searching for a non-polar material to dissolve the capsaicin in. A non-polar molecule is one that isn’t positively charged at one end and at the other end, negatively charged. As capsaicin falls into this classification, it only can be dissolved in additional non-polar materials – of which water isn’t one. However, milk contains molecules like a protein referred to as casein and fat, perfect for removing capsaicin from the mouth’s pain receptors.

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