Why can we “taste” spicy foods with other parts of our body like our eyes or throat or when we use the bathroom, but we can’t do the same with other tastes?

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Why can we “taste” spicy foods with other parts of our body like our eyes or throat or when we use the bathroom, but we can’t do the same with other tastes?

In: Biology

Because “spice” is actually a targeted response of pain receptors, and you have pain receptors in more places than just your tongue.

Spicy food is not actually a taste. It’s a feeling. Spicy food has a chemical called capsaicin that latched onto your heat detection cells, and makes colder things seem hotter. So something that in actually is ~100 degrees (inside your mouth) feels much hotter. That works with other parts of your body too. Your hand (~95 degrees) feels much hotter, and what you are feeling is literally a fake burning sensation caused by the capsaicin.

Capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers spicy, is just a painful irritant that gives off a warm feeling. This can happen anywhere on the body you have pain nerves. It’s not a flavor given off by a group of chemical compounds like sweet, savory, or salty, just your tongue reacting to being organically maced.

You can! With mint! (Keep away from your privates unless you’re into that stuff.)

menthol (cold), capsaicin (hot), skin go “wtf is happening to me?”

Also, some cursed knowledge I have. If you eat a spicy pepper, and then brush your teeth to try and get the spicy off your tongue, hot and cold sensation chemicals DO NOT cancel each other out.

So if you ever want to know what hellfire tastes like, while also being electrocuted, eat a ghost pepper and brush your teeth with minty toothpaste.

The spicy chemical is called capsaisin. You “taste” it when it binds to temperature receptors in your mouth. It does not activate taste buds like other flavours do, it literally activates heat sensors. That’s why “burning / hot” are such good descriptions, it’s the exact same experience. That’s also why food being hot temperature makes spiciness worse – those both activate the exact same receptors so it adds together.

You have temperature receptors all over, so spicy capsaicin can feel warm anywhere. Mucous membranes (aka nose, eyes, ass) are worse because they are permeable and let the capsaicin through to where the temperature sensors are, where it then activates them.