What is Capsaicin?

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What is Capsaicin? Blog Image


Recently, food safety authorities in Denmark have recalled three types of South Korean spicy instant noodles over possible risks of “acute poisoning” due to high Capsaicin levels.

About Capsaicin

  • It is a naturally-occurring botanical irritant in chili peppers, synthetically derived for pharmaceutical formulations.
  • It is most abundantly found in the “placenta” (white membrane to which seeds are attached) of some chili peppers — fruits of plants of genus Capsicum.
  • How does it act in humans?
    • The chemical binds to TRPV1 receptors in humans’ nose, mouth, skin, and insides. These receptors help in detecting heat (and pain), and are most commonly activated by a rise in temperature.
    • But capsaicin ‘tricks’ them into reacting, even though there is no actual temperature rise. The brain, thus, believes that the body is on fire, causing the painful, burning sensation associated with consuming chilis.
    • The body then tries to cool down — hence the sweating, and the red face (capillaries just below the skin dilate, as blood rushes to the surface of the body, where it can radiate heat away more easily). The runny nose or teary eyes are the body’s attempt at expelling the heat-causing element. So are the gut cramps and diarrhea.
  • It is most often used as a topical analgesic and exists in many formulations of cream, liquid, and patch preparations of various strengths.

Q1: What is Analgesic?

Any drug that relieves pain selectively without blocking the conduction of nerve impulses, markedly altering sensory perception, or affecting consciousness is called as Analgesic.

Source: Why chilis burn. And why humans still love them