The Body



Chilli fun

Chilli Use

The Effect of Chillies on the Body

The Body

Almost everyone is aware of two of the effects of chillies, one being the burning sensation in the mouth.

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.

The heat of peppers makes them more than just a food. They were used by the Mayans, thrown in battle at the enemy. Pepper sprays are the modern equivalent of this. Indeed, in high concentration capsaicinoids are toxic, and so painful as to be incapacitating.  Capsaicin can block the production of certain neurotransmitters, preventing nerves from communicating with each other.

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.