Capsaicin for Health and Wellbeing
How many of you realized that eating chili peppers could get you high? It seems it has been a well-known fact throughout history in many cultures.
The chemical in chili peppers, which is responsible for this, is capsaicin. It actually fools your nerves into believing they are frying. When in actuality, nothing is happening at all. But the nerves go ahead and trigger the release of endorphins into the brain.
Endorphins are those natural drugs (pain killers) that are 100 to 1000 times more powerful than morphine. The chili peppers high is not hallucinogenic but can be mildly addictive.
According to Robb Walsh and his article, The Chili Pepper Counter-Culture, “The endorphins and physical sensations that flood the brain when a chili addict bites into a pepper suddenly interrupt the thought processes and overwhelm the senses. Doctors have described this phenomenon as a rush. Chili junkies glide along on strong stimulation, experiencing it as something between pleasure and pain that brings on a high state of consciousness.”
I always thought my Cajun relatives were so jovial from the amounts of alcohol they consumed. Now I know they were also stoned by the copious amounts of red pepper they put in their food!
Different chilies differ in the amounts of capsaicin. The scale used to measure heat intensity in various chilies is known as the Scoville unit scale.
The bell pepper is in the chili family but measures only 0-100 on the Scoville; jalapeno is 2,500-5,000; habanero 100,000-300,000. Then there is an Asian hybrid known as the naga jolokai, that measures 855,000 Scoville units.
Chilies were actually used as a weapon back in the days of the Mayans. They would burn large piles of chilies up wind from the enemy in hopes of incapacitating them. In modern days, we have pepper spray to do essentially the same thing, just at a closer range.
If you do get hold of a chili that’s too hot to handle (swallow), you don’t want to drink cold water. In his book Psyche Delicacies, Chris Kilham writes, “… a mouth full of cold water may close oral pores, sealing the blazing hot capasaicinoids inside. On the other hand, a swig of full-fat milk will liberate capsaicin from the pores in your mouth, relieving your discomfort. Alcohol is also an excellent solvent for capasaicinoids, you can rinse your mouth out with a swig of tequila, vodka, grappa, or any high octane liquor.”
Never put pure capsaicin extract in mouth, or on skin, as it is essentially an acid in that state and can eat through tissue.
Bon Appetite you psyche surfers. That’s a wrap for this week, as always, keep it simple.