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Physiol Behav. 1991 Apr;49(4):757-64.

Capsaicin desensitization and recovery on the human tongue.

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Psychology Department, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520.


The desensitization resulting from application of 10 or 100 ppm capsaicin was investigated, using daily testing of a capsaicin series (1-1000 ppm, in log steps). The series showed a significant decrement in perceived burn following desensitization with either concentration. Perceived burn of 100 and 1000 ppm did not recover from 100 ppm desensitization in six days, and perceived burn of 1-1000 ppm did not recover from 100 ppm desensitization in six days. When single capsaicin concentrations, rather than the series, were tested at one, two, four, or six days after desensitization, 10 ppm recovered from 10 ppm desensitization in one or two days, and 100 ppm recovered from 100 ppm desensitization between two and four days. This suggests that daily testing with the capsaicin series delayed recovery from desensitization. Nontasters of 6-n-propylthiouracil rated capsaicin burn lower than did tasters. The application method of rolling capsaicin onto the tongue with a swab was found to transiently inhibit burn. Implications for ingesting capsaicin products are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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