Why Spicy Food Makes You Feel High

If you've ever noticed a funny feeling when you eat spicy food, you're not just imagining things. Capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers hot, causes your brain to release chemicals that make some people feel buzzed or high.

Photo by Ela Haney

Helix, a magazine and blog at Northwestern University explains that spiciness is actually not a taste but a sensation caused by capsaicinoids. In really simple terms, these compounds send a message to your brain that make it think it's in pain. As a response, your brain releases endorphins and dopamine. Helix breaks it down:

One such message produced by capsaicinoids is substance P, which transmits pain signals. The brain responds by releasing another type of neurotransmitter known as endorphins. Endorphins are the body's natural way of relieving pain by blocking the nerve's ability to transmit pain signals. Additionally, the neurotransmitter dopamine, responsible for a sense of reward and pleasure, is also released. In essence, for some people eating large amounts of spicy food triggers a sense of euphoria similar to a "runner's high".

In short, if you feel a nice buzz after eating something spicy, you have capsaicin to thank. Read more at Helix's full post below.

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON CAPSAICIN [HELIX]


Comments

    So glad you explained this. Sometimes after having good Indian food I feel a little fuzzy driving home. Now I know why.

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