Why Spicy Food Makes Your Nose Run —and Why It’s Great for You

Munch a bit of habanero pepper or hot-sauce-soaked jambalaya, and you’ll notice a tingling numbness in your mouth followed by a burning sensation. If that burning sensation is sufficiently strong, your nose and eyes will start to run, and your mouth and throat will start to generate mucus. You may not be able to feel it, but your stomach and parts of your intestine will also start secreting excess fluid, says Dr. Brett Comer, a surgeon and ear, nose, and throat specialist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Why does all this happen? Like spraying water on a filthy car, your body turns on the waterworks in order to wash away the offensive spice. “When your mouth or throat encounters any foreign object that’s noxious, the thinking is that liquid helps to move that out,” Comer explains. Some people even develop diarrhea or an upset stomach as a result of the extra mucus released into the gastrointestinal tract in response to spicy food, he adds. As every hot-sauce aficionado knows, a plant compound called capsaicin deserves credit for the snot-unleashing heat of spicy chili peppers. One study on the physiological and therapeutic effects of capsaicin found that the compound causes its unique brand of “excitation” by locking onto a specific type of pain receptor. “This excitation leads to the feeling of heat or burning pain, blood vessel dilatation, reddening of the skin and body temperature elevation,” says Anthony D...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized Diet/Nutrition Source Type: news

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