There’s no doubt that hot peppers and hot pepper products taste great. They add more than a little zip to virtually any meal, spicing up your diet like nothing else on the market. But did you know you could actually get a rush from eating hot peppers? While hot peppers aren’t a drug, it’s still possible to feel a sort of high from consuming them. Unlike the chemical reaction of drugs on your brain, though, hot peppers are just tricking your brain into thinking your mouth is on fire, causing your body to react. The amount of capsaicin, the heat of the pepper, varies depending on which type of pepper you choose. The hottest peppers and the hottest pepper products, deliver the biggest punch.
When you experience the pain of eating an extremely hot pepper, your body, in turn, responds by producing endorphins and releasing dopamine. Much like a runner’s high, this is the stage where your body begins releasing those chemicals throughout your body to help respond to the “heat” of the pepper. This may result in a similar buzz or numbness that you’d feel in using alcohol or drugs. It’s that feeling that some former drug addicts seek out in the process of transforming the need for an artificial high into a natural high.
The pepper high can also fill the void that some thrill seekers enjoy. Instead of using drugs for the thrill, consuming spicy foods such as peppers are said to deliver a new thrill; one that’s not impacted by the same kind of side effects as drugs. Eating spicy foods delivers an instant reward to some addicts too, similar to what they’ve sought out in the past. Replacing the need of getting high with the high delivered from spicy foods and hot peppers can potentially help addicts learn to transition to a healthier lifestyle, and potentially to one that’s drug free.