MadSci Network: Anatomy

Subject: How do spicy foods make your tongue 'burn'/does this damage taste buds?

Date: Wed Jun 6 17:38:15 2001
Posted by Lauren
Grade level: nonaligned School: No school entered.
City: No city entered. State/Province: WI Country: No country entered.
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 991863495.An

In searching your archives, the closest I could come to this question was (1) 
why your nose runs when eating spicy foods and (2) whether hot liquids (causing 
an actual burn) damage taste buds.  Neither of these quite fit what I'm curious 
about.  The "spicy" or "hot" sensation doesn't seem to fit into the sweet, 
sour, bitter or salty categories so what causes that sensation on your tongue?  
I realize that smell is a big contributor to taste, but factoring that out - 
what's going on on your tongue.  Is this some sort of mild chemical "burn" and 
does this type of burning sensation have a negative impact on taste buds over 
time?  Not really sure if this is an anatomy or a neuroscience question.

Re: How do spicy foods make your tongue 'burn'/does this damage taste buds?

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