According to The Conversation, our mouths have TRPV1 receptors that detect heat and prevent us from eating food that’s too hot. Capsaicin triggers these TRPV1 receptors, which sends a signal to the brain that we’re eating something dangerously hot. The brain responds by sending a burning sensation to that part of our mouth. Then the body responds the way it should to hot temperatures – by sweating. You might also notice that you feel a rush while eating spicy food. That’s because your body misinterprets capsaicin as a threat, so it releases both dopamine and adrenaline as a response, according to Cooking Genie.
Capsaicin also isn’t quite broken down in our digestive tract, so you’ll feel that same burning when it’s on its way out of your system, according to Everyday Chemistries. If the heat in your spicy food overwhelms you, avoid water, according to the American Chemical Society. That will add more flame to the fire. Instead, drink milk or eat ice cream or cottage cheese. The casein in these dairy products wraps around capsaicin and helps remove it from your tongue. And by the way, be aware that it’s the membrane that holds a pepper’s seeds, not the seeds themselves, that hold the heat.