: why does some spicies burn the mouth and some goes straight to your nose?

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Some spicies like pepper burns the mouth and tongue. Some for example wasabi goes to your nose and if you eat enough the brain. What makes the difference?

In: Chemistry

Different chemicals that interact with different receptors in your cells. Those receptors trigger nerve impulses that your brain interprets as hot or spicy or pungent.

Chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin that interacts with the TRPV1 receptors in certain cells.

Wasabi contains a chemical called allyl isothiocyanate that interacts with a related, but different, receptor called TRPA1.

Both TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors are in your mucus membranes –mouth, nose, eyes and … *ahem* … nether regions. (Pro tip: don’t take a piss after cutting habaneros; you’ll regret it.) But the allyl isothiocyanate molecule is larger and more volatile than capsaicin, so it’s less likely to get snagged by those TRPV1 receptors in your mouth; instead it floats up your nasal cavity and comes to rest in the nostrils or sinuses, giving you that nose-burning feeling, whereas capsaicin, the smaller molecule, gets captured more quickly by the cells in your mouth.

For the record, none of these chemicals “go to the brain.”