I adore spicy food. I mean really
spicy not "Gringo American" spicy. I cook traditional Indian food and I know few people who like it as spicy as I do. When I go to a Thai restaurant, I have to insist on making the food as spicy as those from Thailand would eat it. I am now learning to cook Ethiopian food.
Capsaicinoids (The chemical origin of heat in chillies) releases endorphins and can lead leading to a sense of happiness and well being. It's the same endorphins released during sex.
Endorphins are a class of neurotransmitters produced by the body and used internally as a pain killer.
This class of compounds are similar in their action to opiates, attaching to some of the same receptors in the brain. They are a strong analgesic, and give a pervasive sense of happiness. The release of endorphins lowers the blood pressure, a major indicator in heart disease, and has even been implicated in the fight against cancer. Some people (like me) find the 'rush' from endorphins addictive.
The capsaicinoids in chilli bind to a receptor in the lining of the mouth. This is the same receptor that registers pain from heat, thus the effect is a burning feeling. This is a result of the flow of calcium ions from one cell to the next. The pungent molecule has an electron poor area, which is attracted to the electron rich area on the receptor protein. Repeated exposure to capsaicinoids depletes these receptors, enabling you to eat hotter chillies and feel the same effect. The pain caused by this leads to the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. These give a feeling of happiness and well being. Besides the information about pain receptors, chillies have given much to medical science. Capsaicin cream is used to lower the sensation of pain in such conditions as arthritis, and other painful chronic conditions.
Chillies are high in vitamin C (about twice that of citrus fruits), dried chillies are very high in vitamin A, and red chillies are a great source of b-carotene. Chillies have antibacterial qualities, and contain bioflavinoids, anti-oxidants most common in apple juice.
Contrary to popular belief it is the white membrane of the chilli pepper that holds the most heat, not the seeds.
my mum just sent me this article:
Red Hot Chili Peppers
By C. CLAIBORNE RAY
Published: August 10, 2009
Q. If I eat a raw jalapeño pepper, my mouth is afire, my eyes water and my nose runs. How can some people eat pepper after pepper without pain? Have they destroyed the sensory receptors in their mouths and throats?
A. No receptors are destroyed, said Harry T. Lawless, a professor of food science at Cornell and an expert in the taste, smell and sensory evaluation of food. Instead, “people who eat a lot of the stuff tend to develop a tolerance that we call desensitization,” he said.“There is nothing harmful in the capsaicin molecule, the active ingredient of hot peppers,” he said. “Capsaicin is kind of a harmless drug, and like any drug we develop a tolerance to it.”
One theory is that a neurotransmitter gets depleted so that people respond less vigorously to capsaicin the more they are exposed to it, he said.
The capsaicin molecule has both stimulating and anesthetic properties, Dr. Lawless said. In 1952, The Dublin Medical Press recommended it as a temporary cure for toothache, he said, and pharmacologists, particularly in Hungary, have studied this anesthetic property in related molecules.
“The antidote to the mouth burning and the eyes watering is to eat more,” Dr. Lawless said, “either right away or later.” Chronic desensitization seems to be a matter of long-term dietary change, he said, but there is also the short-term numbing effect.
If you just can’t eat another pepper, Dr. Lawless’s favorite antidote is frozen yogurt. “Indian mothers,” he said, “are known to give ghee,” or clarified butter, “to children who get too much curry.”
article link here
Dear readers, don't worry, I shall give my version and a milder version for every recipe I post here.
The Greater the Threat, the Hotter the Chili
New 'Thermometer' for Chili Peppers