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.

Related Articles


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 March 31, 2015 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 March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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