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I have done a survey on my friend

When everytime they eat something spicy, They will eat ice or drink icy water. First, Mostly they feel nothing but a cool sensation. However when they finished, they feel spicy again.

Sometimes, they will drink warm mill or hot coco. Now everybody feel extremely spicy at first and less spicy afterwards

My question is:

1) Why don't I feel spicy when drinking icy water or eat ice?

2) Why do I feel spicy after the action at 1) ?

3) Why do I feel extremely spicy when drinking warm milk or hot coco but less spicy afterwards?

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  • $\begingroup$ What kind of spice? Chili-based flavours? $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 3, 2015 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, mostly chili and curry $\endgroup$ May 3, 2015 at 11:38

1 Answer 1

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The spicy feeling essentially is the feeling of heat and pain. It is caused by the molecule Capsaicin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsaicin) binding to the ion channel TRPV1 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRPV1), activating it.

You can temporarily get rid of the pain by cooling (as you would with any other injury) - hence the effect of ice.

Unfortunately, this does not get rid of the cause of the pain, i.e. the molecule bound to the ion channel. Capsaicin is not very water soluble, but only fat soluble. This is why drinking milk helps: it contains microdroplets of fat, which can solvate the Capsaicin, which then can get washed away from the "pain receptor".

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    $\begingroup$ What is cooling doing exactly to the perception here? Any references that would support your claim? $\endgroup$
    – Memming
    May 3, 2015 at 11:58
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    $\begingroup$ You can't really say pain.. These channels are sensitive to heat and are involved in temperature perception (also nociception). When capsaicin opens these channels you get the feeling of heat. $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    May 3, 2015 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG "nociception" is the encoding and processing of harmful stimuli in the nervous system, which, at a certain threshold, is interpreted as pain. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    May 3, 2015 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @MattDMo but TRPVs are also involved in normal temperature sensing and do not necessarily activate pain pathways. $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    May 3, 2015 at 17:29

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