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In article <92126.115541SXL136@psuvm.psu.edu> SXL136@psuvm.psu.edu writes:
>I am a big fan of Salsa on tortilla chips as I have always gotten a rush
>from eating it (and it clears up my head if I have a cold), but I never
>realized until a few days ago that eating very spicy foods can actually
>release endorhpins into your blood stream....
>
>Sean

This is from the _Austin Chronicle_ May 3, 1991  (Reprinted without
permission). 

The Chile Pepper Counterculture
-------------------------------
(by Robb Walsh)

Endorphins, those natural drugs that are 100 to 1,000 times more
powerful than morphene, are released into our brain when we eat hot
chile petters, according to a New Mexico University scientist.  Like
other psychotropics, including peyote, coca and tabacco, chile peppers
alter our state of consciousness.  In the case of chile peppers the
high is non-hallucinogenic, but it is addictive.  Experimental
psychologist Frank Etscorn of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and
Technology told the New Mexico Chile Conference that chile addicts are
hooked on endorphins.  "We get slightly strung out, but it's no big
deal," he says.

Getting a runner's high without the running may be a bigger deal than
Etscorn imagines.  It also explains a lot about the perverse
psychology of chile-pepper lovers.  Eating more chile peppers produces
more pain, more pain produces more endorphis.  Maintaining a steady
burn has been called "mouth surfing" by many observers of the emerging
chile pepper counterculture.  The endorphins and physical sensations
that flood the brain when a chile addict bites into a pepper suddenly
interrupt the thought processes and overwhelm the senses.  This
phenomenon has been described by doctors as a "rush."  According to
Dr. Weil, a physician quoted by Austin chile expert Jean Andrews,
chile junkies "glide along on the strong stimulation, experiencing it
as something between pleasure and pain that ... brings on a high state
of consciousuness."
.
.
.
.
.
The overwhelming body of opinion indicates that the pain of peppers is
intense but causes no real damage.  That's why blistering or reddening
is not associated with pepper pain.  . . . But ... don't worry about
hurting yourself eating chile peppers.

The chemical capsicin is fooling your nerves into believing that they
are burning in hell, when in fact nothing is wrong with them at all.
And your dumb body rushes all those painkillers to those special
receptors in the brain.  That's a pretty good practical joke, huh?
Pass the hot sauce.


"Peppers, the Domesticated Capsicums" 
by Jean Andrews, University of Texas Press