Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tingling sensation caused by Asian spice could help patients with chronic pain

Date:
September 10, 2013
Source:
University College London - UCL
Summary:
The science behind the tingling sensation caused by eating a popular Asian spice has been explained by researchers.

The science behind the tingling sensation caused by eating a popular Asian spice has been explained by researchers at UCL.

The study, which is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, helps shed light on the complex interactions between the senses of taste and touch, and could lead to a greater understanding of the causes of the tingling sensations experienced by many chronic pain patients.

Widely used in Asian cooking, the Szechuan pepper was found to mimic the sense of touch in the brain. It chemically activates light-touch fibres on the lips and tongue and sends the equivalent of 50 light taps to the brain per second.

Dr Nobuhiro Hagura (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience), lead author of the study, said: "This is the first time that we've been able to show how chemicals activate touch fibres, inducing a measureable frequency. We know that natural products like chilli, mustard oil and menthol can activate the thermal and pain fibres in the skin, but we wanted to find out why Szechuan pepper specifically works on the light-touch fibres, producing a conscious sensation of touch and that distinctive tingling feeling."

After Szechuan pepper was applied to the lips of volunteers, participants were asked to match the frequency of the resulting tingling sensation by adjusting a vibrating stimulus, either higher or lower, on their fingertips.

The team was able to show that an active ingredient in the peppers stimulates specific RA1 fibres in the lips and tongue. These fibres are responsible for transmitting touch sensation, and send the equivalent of a light tap on the skin to the brain at the rate of 50 times per second.

Dr Hagura said: "What we found was that a unique active ingredient in the pepper, called sanshool, activates these fibres, sending a highly specific signal to the brain. Szechuan peppers and physical touch sensations share this same pathway to the brain.

"We hope that laboratory studies of the tingling sensations caused by sanshool could help to clarify the brain processes underlying these sensations, and how they are related to pain in some cases."

The team also hopes to investigate the reasons why people enjoy eating Szechuan pepper and how touch sensation can boost the taste of food


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London - UCL. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. Hagura, H. Barber, P. Haggard. Food vibrations: Asian spice sets lips trembling. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1770): 20131680 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1680

Cite This Page:

University College London - UCL. "Tingling sensation caused by Asian spice could help patients with chronic pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910205326.htm>.
University College London - UCL. (2013, September 10). Tingling sensation caused by Asian spice could help patients with chronic pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910205326.htm
University College London - UCL. "Tingling sensation caused by Asian spice could help patients with chronic pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910205326.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins