Two bhut jolokias equal one pepper spray (WSJ graphic)When they eat, some people I know are happiest when they slather their dish with tabasco, jalapenos, or other hot peppers. Although they look pained, sweaty and miserable, they’re enjoying themselves immensely. There’s a scientific explanation:
When capsaicin comes into contact with the nerve endings in the tongue and mouth, pain messengers, called neurotransmitters, are sent to the brain in a panic. The brain, mistakenly perceiving that the body is in big trouble, responds by turning on the waterworks to douse the flames. The mouth salivates, the nose runs and the upper body breaks into a sweat. The heart beats faster and the natural painkiller endorphin is secreted. In other words, you get a buzz.Understanding dawns: pepper-lovers are like marathon runners who become addicted to the endorphins that are released when they stress their bodies. For his story on the bhut jolokia, the world's hottest pepper, WSJ reporter Stan Sesser (who even looks like a long-distance runner) sampled it personally in the video below. Give the man a Pulitzer!