The Burning Flesh of Chili Peppers

Once upon a time, there was a rumor floating around that chili peppers caused ulcers.

It’s an easy assumption to make. After all, the burning that chili peppers cause in your mouth could likely be linked with heartburn and other stomach or digestive issues linked with burning sensations.

However, it’s faulty logic. If chili peppers left holes in your tongue, then it would be easier to link them to holes in your stomach.

You should know that the hole that developed in the esophagus of the guy who at ghost peppers wasn’t caused by the chili peppers themselves. His reaction of extreme vomiting developed into a super rare condition that created the hole.

You should also know that chili peppers are linked to the development and maintenance of healthy gut flora that inhibits the growth of ulcers.

But, if you wanted to take the story of burning flesh a step further, it’s worth looking at the burning flesh of the ghost peppers a little closer.

The Way Super Hot Chilies Can Burn

Interestingly there’s a big difference between the flesh of a jalapeño and that of a ghost pepper. Not only is a jalapeño far milder, it stores its capsaicin way differently than, say, a ghost pepper (though any of the super-hot varieties could be substituted in this equation).

Capsaicin?

Yes, that’s the stuff that makes chili peppers feel as though they’re burning a hole in your mouth. They’re not, as you know. Even (or, perhaps, especially) the guy suffering from a hole in his throat knows it. But it feels that way because the capsaicin compound triggers the same pain receptors that tell your brain you’re touching fire.

In milder chilies, those we know well, such as jalapeños, you’ll find capsaicin in the placenta (the white pithy part holding the seeds). Actually, you’ll find capsaicin in the same place inside super hot chili peppers. But, in jalapeños, that’s the only place you’ll find capsaicin.

Sure, some of the compound will rub off onto the seeds, but it’s not actually found in the seeds. So, deseeding chilies does help, but it’s more about getting rid of the pith.

Cutting the seeds and pith out of super-hot chilies, like ghost peppers, isn’t going to do you much good, however. And, that’s not just because these varieties are freakishly hot. It’s also because they store their capsaicin in the burning flesh of the fruit.

This Matters More than You Think

We know you’re excited about all this. For a start, as long as you can avoid extreme vomiting, ghost peppers are still safe to eat. However, we don’t suggest stuffing your face with them regularly, especially if jalapeños are your idea of hot.

Secondly, we bet you’re glad to know that capsaicin does more to prevent ulcers than cause them.

And, finally, you wouldn’t believe the number of medicinal uses for capsaicin. Now, just imagine how much more of that there is in the world now that we have super-hot chili peppers. Whether you love them or hate them, most people are big fans of good health. Aren’t you?


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