On occasion, I've served my killer chili at parties, and on occasion, there is the brave soul who will fill the spoon, eat it, remark, "that's not too bad," and take another spoonful.  Then the first taste kicks in.

Turns out, there's a reason.  It's in the capsaicin, which emerged as a way for the plants to keep herbivores away.
So, when you ingest the capsaicin, it stimulates nerve endings that tell your brain that it’s feeling pain. Your body reacts the same way it would if it were going under attack from a severe burn. Your cells would prepare to heal the burn, so as a result, the first few seconds will have a mediocre burn that comes on. You think, “Okay, maybe it’s not that bad.” But as soon as you think you’re tough, a brick of pain hits your body. As capsaicin spreads through your mouth, it binds to TRPV1 receptors, which your body uses to detect heat. These receptors are typically activated by temperatures more than 110°F, but once the capsaicin latches on, the activation temperature drops to about 93°F, says Nadia Byrnes, Ph.D. That’s lower than your natural body temperature. “Now the warmth of your own mouth trips the receptor and creates a burning sensation,” she says. Substance P, a neuropeptide that signals pain, travels to your brain, unleashing a cascade of defensive biological reactions.
I always issue warnings, and make sure there is cold pop or beer on hand. Wouldn't want to be engaging in chemical warfare without a U.N. resolution.

The ingredients for the habanero version of my chili are on hand for tomorrow, and there are green ghost and Carolina Reaper plants in this year's Victor E. Garden.  I'm hoping the heat waves in the forecast will stimulate plant growth.

1 comment:

Dave Tufte said...

There was some research that came out a year or two ago that birds do not have this problem. So the plants were picking bird dropping dispersion over herbivore dropping dispersion for their seeds.