Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It tastes cold!?

  Have you ever noticed after you chew peppermint gum, then take a deep breath, that your mouth feels suddenly cold? That's because of menthol, a chemical found in mint, messes with our thermosensory neurons. Menthol binds to the transient receptor potential cation channel (subfamily M, group 8), also known as TRPM8; this protein is responsible for the sensation of 'coolness', which is due to the receptor being hypersensitive to the temperature differences. In other words, the chemical tricks your mouth into thinking that the air around (or breathed in) is really cold; kind of like a gustatory illusion. Fun fact: TRPM8 is also called CMR1 which stands for Cold and Menthol Receptor. But methanol isn't the only chemical responsible for the cool 'taste', this is also found in Eucalyptol (cineole); which, as you guessed, is from eucalyptus! In contrast, capsaicin makes the mouth feel hot; which is found in chilis.

Eucalyptol (Cineole)
TRPM8 (CMR1)How does mint create a cooling effect

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