Why does the mint flavore make your mouth feel cold?
I thought it might be chemistry.
I thought it might be chemistry.
Taken from a review in Annual Review of Neuroscience, published in 2006 (doi:10.1146/annurev.neuro.29.051605.112958) http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.neuro.29.051605.112958"[/URL][quote]Menthol derived from mint elicits a sensation of cold when applied to the skin or mucous membranes. Remarkably, menthol modulates the activity of cool-induced currents in individual free nerve endings. In recordings of cold-sensitive afferents, menthol stimulates these fibers at subthreshold activation temperatures, which suggests that menthol acts directly on the molecule(s) responsible for cold transduction (Hensel & Zotterman 1951a, Schafer et al. 1986). In analogous studies using cultured rodent sensory neurons, electrophysiological and calcium-imaging experiments identified a population of neurons that responded to both innocuous cool and menthol, corresponding to 10% of total neurons (Reid & Flonta 2001b, Viana et al. 2002). An important step forward came when Reid & Flonta (2001b) reported that the stimulation of cultured DRGs with cool and/or menthol leads to the activation of a nonselective cation channel."It's been known for years that menthol and related cooling agents evoke the psychophysical sensation of cold -- somehow by interacting with the aspect of the sensory nervous system that's related to cold detection," says Julius.
The current study, he says -- led by Diana M. Bautista, PhD, and Jan Siemens, PhD, of the Julius lab and Joshua M. Glazer, PhD, of the lab of co-senior author Cheryl Stucky, PhD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin -- puts that question to rest.
As such, the receptor -- known as menthol receptor TRPM8 -- provides a target for studying acute and chronic pain, as can result from inflammatory or nerve injury, the researchers say, and a potential new target for treating pain.
"By understanding how sensory receptors work, how thresholds for temperature are determined, we gain insight into how these thresholds change in the setting of injury, such as inflammatory and nerve injury, and how these changes may contribute to chronic pain," says senior author David Julius, PhD, chairman and professor of physiology at UCSF.
The menthol receptor, and other temperature receptors discovered in recent years by the Julius lab, offer potential targets for developing analgesic drugs that act in the peripheral, nervous system, rather than centrally, where opiate receptors act, he says.
Tell that to the Tomato Horntails!! Those creeps ate holes in so many of my chili peppers last year. This one was bigger than my middle finger (I know, because I showed it to him before he accidentally got under my boot.)Interesting stuff and I wonder what advantage it is to the plants in synthesising these compounds.I have just checked on the net and apparently oils extracted from mints,chillis and certain other plants make good insecticides.Perhaps there is the answer.
Mints propagate through rhizomes, and they will never be welcome in the vegetable garden for that reason. Herb gardens, OK.Your Tomato Horntail looks like a green cutie and I am sad to hear of his accidental demise.Perhaps you should try planting mints amongst your chillis.