When it comes to consuming hot peppers, there’s both a trick and a treat to the spicy heat. Sure, hot peppers and hot pepper products make your food taste great but they’re also performing a sort of trick on your brain. That’s because a hot pepper isn’t actually physically hot. There’s no steam coming out of that pepper or bottle of hot sauce, even though you may feel like your entire mouth is on fire. It all has to do with the natural chemical compound called capsaicin that’s found in hot peppers. In this case, you do not actually taste something that’s hot in terms of temperature, but rather you’re experiencing a sensation of heat when you bite into something spicy hot.
Capsaicin tricks your pain receptors into telling your brain there’s something hot in your mouth. Your body, in turn, starts trying to cool things down. This is why you may feel tears rolling from your eyes and find your nose a bit runny. In all actuality, though, you’ll never see any flames emerge from a hot pepper, unless of course that’s the way you’re preparing the pepper at mealtime. Psychologically, your body thinks there’s heat, or rather that your tongue and mouth are burning, and begins to react accordingly.
On the flip side, you may find that your brain starts releasing dopamine and endorphins, turning the consumption of something spicy hot into a sort of runner’s high. This helps explain why some people just can’t get enough of the burn. If you’re one of them, there are all kinds of products sure to quench your taste for the hot stuff. From mind-numbing hot sauce to pepper extracts and pepper purees, there’s virtually no limit when it comes to the treat of consuming one of the many spicy hot pepper products on the market.