I like the burn of hot peppers, but you can get too much of a good thing. From a chemistry standpoint, what can you do that actually stops the burning of hot peppers? What doesn't work? Here's what you need to know:
Why Hot Peppers Burn
Hot peppers contain a compound called capsaicin
or any of the related compounds called capsaicinoids which produce a burning sensation when they comes into contact with mucous membranes. Although capsaicinoids produce a feeling of heat, they won't actually attack your tissue or cause a chemical burn. The molecules bind to a pain receptor, so you may suffer excuciating agony, but your body isn't being harmed by the chemical. Capsaicin is an alkaline oil. If you keep its chemical properties in mind, you'll have a better chance of soothing the burn.
Water Does Not Help
Drinking water doesn't stop the burning because the oil-based capsaicin won't dissolve in water. If anything, water spreads the burning to parts that weren't previously affected.
Alcohol is useless against the heat of a hot pepper. Chasing hot food with alcohol will magnify the burn because the capsaicin will dissolve in the alcohol, but won't be neutralized by it. You'll spread the burn around. The exception here would be if you've had enough alcohol to dull pain reception.
No, I'm not talking about sulfuric acid or anything like that, but if you follow the hot peppers with an acidic food or drink you can neutralize some of the activity of the alkaline capsaicinoid. Good choices include cold lemonade, a lemon or lime, orange juice, anything tomato-based, or drinking milk (which is acidic).
Milk, yogurt, and sour cream are acidic, which helps to combat the burning. The milk protein called casein acts as a natural detergent, breaking up the capsaicin. Many dairy products also contain fat which can help to dissolve the capsaicin. To get the most benefit from dairy, go for an acidic product that contains fat. In other words, sour cream or ice cream will help you more than skim milk.
If you eat your hot peppers with bread, rice, tortillas or any other starchy carbohydrate you'll lessen the burning
from the peppers. This works by providing a physical barrier between your mouth and some of the capsaicin so less of it contacts your tongue, lips, etc. The sugars in the carbohydrates may also help lessen the activity of the capsaicinoids.
Do you know of other hot pepper remedies that work? Any that definitely do not
help? Post a reply and share your experience.