Wasabi has a strong, pungent flavor that is often described as “spicy.”If you’ve ever eaten wasabi, you know that it can be a powerful experience. But why does wasabi burn my brain?
When you eat wasabi, the burning sensation is caused by a compound called allyl isothiocyanate that activates a receptor in the nose called the TRPA1 receptor, which is responsible for the perception of pain and heat. When the TRPA1 receptor is activated, it sends a signal to the brain that causes the sensation of pain and heat. While the sensation of wasabi burning your brain may be unpleasant, it is harmless.
Wasabi is not the only food that can cause this sensation. Other foods containing allyl isothiocyanates, such as horseradish and mustard, can activate the TRPA1.
So the next time you eat wasabi, remember that it’s not just your nose burning – it’s your brain, too!
In this guide, we’ll explore the science behind why wasabi burns your brain, how it impacts your health, and how to take precautions.
What Causes My Brain and Head to Burn When I Eat Wasabi?
When you eat wasabi, the sinus-clearing compound allyl isothiocyanate comes into contact with your mucous membranes. This chemical irritation causes your body to release histamines, which results in the burning feeling in your brain and head.
There are the following causes of why your brain and head burn when you eat wasabi:
- High Concentration of Capsaicinoids
- High Acidity of Wasabi
- High Temperature of Wasabi
- Wasabi Intolerance
1. High Concentration of Capsaicinoids
Capsaicinoids are responsible for wasabi’s hot, spicy taste when consumed in high concentrations. They can cause a burning sensation in the brain and head.
2. High Acidity of Wasabi
It is thought that the high acidity of wasabi may affect the brain by increasing the excitability of neurons. This may lead to increased alertness and improved cognitive function, which can cause a burning sensation in the brain and head.
3. High Temperature of Wasabi
As wasabi may be too spicy for your tolerance level at its high temperature. If you are sensitive to spicy foods, you may want to try a milder variety of wasabi. This can cause a burning sensation in the brain and head.
4. Wasabi Intolerance
You may have a condition called “wasabi intolerance.” Wasabi intolerance is a rare condition that causes brain and head burns after eating wasabi. If you think you may have wasabi intolerance, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis
What Causes Your Brain to Feel Wasabi?
The brain feels wasabi because of the chemicals in wasabi that stimulate the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for the sensation of touch, pressure, temperature, and pain in the face.
When the trigeminal nerve is stimulated, it sends a signal to the brain that is interpreted as pain. It’s also because of the chemical compound allyl isothiocyanate.
When this chemical comes in contact with the mucous membranes in your nose and mouth, it activates the TRPA1 receptor. This receptor is responsible for the sensation of pain and irritation in your brain.
See Also: Is Wasabi Hot to Taste
What Happens to Your Brain When You Eat Wasabi?
When you eat wasabi, it causes a chemical reaction in your brain. This reaction is similar to what happens when you eat hot peppers. The wasabi triggers the release of a chemical called capsaicin, which binds to a receptor in your brain called TRPV1.
This receptor is responsible for the sensation of pain and heat. The capsaicin binding to the receptor causes the brain to think it is in pain, which is why it has a burning sensation in your brain after eating wasabi.
Additionally, When you eat wasabi, this compound binds to the receptor cells in your nose responsible for detecting spicy flavors. This causes the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which can produce a temporary sense of euphoria.
Is Wasabi Beneficial to Your Brain?
Yes, wasabi is beneficial to your brain. The active ingredient in wasabi, allyl isothiocyanate, has been shown to improve your cognitive function and memory by activating your neuroreceptors. So, wasabi appears to be a promising option for supporting brain health.
See Also: How Much Wasabi Is Too Much
Why Does Wasabi Burn the Back of My Head?
When you eat wasabi, the sinuses in the back of your head open up, allowing the wasabi vapors to travel up your nose. This causes a burning sensation in the back of your head.
The burning sensation you feel when you eat wasabi is caused by releasing a gas called isothiocyanate. When this gas comes into contact with your mucous membranes, it causes a burning sensation in all of your brain.
See Also: How Hot Is Wasabi on Scoville Scale
Can Wasabi Burn Be Stopped?
Yes, you can stop the burning sensation by drinking milk or taking a bite of bread. The reason why these two things work is that they both contain a protein called casein. This protein binds to the chemicals in wasabi that cause the burning sensation and prevent them from reaching the nerve endings in your nose.
Another best way to stop the burning is to follow these simple steps:
- Rinse the affected area with cold water for at least 15 minutes.
- Apply a cold compress to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken over the counter to help relieve pain.
- Eat cool, bland foods such as yogurt, pudding, or Jell-O.
- Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the affected area.
- Keep the affected area clean and dry.
- If the burning sensation persists, see a doctor.
To summarize, the burning sensation caused by wasabi results from allyl isothiocyanate’s chemical compound. Allyl isothiocyanate is a volatile compound that is released when wasabi is chewed.
This compound activates the TRPA1 receptor, responsible for the body’s pain and heat sensation. The TRPA1 receptor is also found in the brain, which is why wasabi can cause a burning sensation in the brain.
While wasabi may cause a brief burning sensation, it is not harmful but beneficial for your health. So, don’t be afraid to add a little wasabi to your meal next time you eat sushi.
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