Thursday, February 02, 2006

Getting High on Capsaicin

First, there was the "Runner’s High" and now there’s a "Capsaicin High."

There have been documented cases of people getting high on chilli peppers. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, describes Capsaicin high as "a euphoric sensation caused by the consumption of large quantities of capsaicin from capsaicin-laden foods."

Capsaicin, chemical compound 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide, is commonly found in and is the active component in chilli peppers. It is a natural irritant for mammals, including humans and is produced as a secondary metabolite by plants of the genus Capsicum.

It is most probably a defense mechanism evolved by chillis as deterrents against herbivores. When taken, it produces a burning sensation in the mouth. Pure capsaicin is a lipophilic, colorless, odorless, crystalline to waxy compound.

Scientists theorize that the pain induced by the intake of capsaicin causes the human body to produce endorphins. Eventually, enough endorphins are released to create a sensation that is comparable to a Runner's high.

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