Black Pepper

Does Black Pepper Really Burn Your Mouth?

Black pepper is a beloved spice. Its zing adds excitement to meals. But for some, that zing becomes a zap. They complain about mouth burning after eating black pepper. So what makes this popular spice inflict such fiery pain?

Black pepper burns because of a chemical called piperine. It interacts with receptors in your mouth that sense temperature. Piperine gives black pepper its spicy heat, similar to capsaicin in chili peppers.

Spiciness is relative. It depends on your personal tolerance. Science says black pepper is mild. But this article explains why it still burns some mouths. Read on to learn the science behind this culinary quirk.

How Hot is Black Pepper Compared to Other Peppers?

Black pepper is tame compared to many peppers. But it has a distinct zing. Most peppers get heat from capsaicin. This chemical is common in chili peppers.

Black pepper gets its spicy heat from piperine. This phytochemical binds to receptors in your mouth. This creates the burning feeling. But for each person, the burn varies based on:

  • Pepper tolerance
  • Mouth sensitivity
  • Mouth condition

Some find black pepper extreme. This may result from:

  • Allergic reaction to piperine
  • Mouth sores irritated by piperine

How Long Does Black Pepper Mouth Burn Last?

The black pepper burn is mild. It does not linger like burns from hotter chili peppers.

  • Chili pepper burn lasts around 20 minutes.
  • Black pepper burn lasts around 10 minutes.

Dairy is the fastest cure for black pepper mouth burn. Milk contains casein protein. It binds to piperine, removing it from receptors. This calms the burning.

Those with lactose intolerance can chew ice chips. The cold intercepts signals to the brain about mouth burning. But ice is less effective than dairy.

How Does Science Measure Black Pepper’s Spiciness?

The Scoville scale ranks pepper heat. It measures chili peppers from sweet to scorching.

  • Carolina reaper is currently world’s hottest at 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
  • Bell peppers are the mildest at 0 SHU.

Black pepper ranks around 10,000 – 30,000 SHU. Enough to add mild zing without extreme heat.

Why is black pepper less hot than chilies? It lacks capsaicin. Black pepper balances gentle heat with other flavors.

Below is a table showing Scoville scale rankings for various peppers.

Pepper VarietyScoville Heat Units
Carolina Reaper2,200,000 SHU
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T1,463,700 SHU
Spanish Naga Chili1,086,844 SHU
Jamaican Hot Pepper350,000 SHU
Red Thai Chili150,000 SHU
African Bird’s Eye Chili100,000 SHU
Red Amazon Pepper57,000 SHU
African Pequin30,000 SHU
New Delhi Long30,000 SHU
Japones Chili20,000 SHU
Black Hungarian Pepper15,000 SHU
Hot Banana Pepper15,000 SHU
Israeli Hot12,000 SHU
Piperine (Black Pepper)10,000 SHU
Kung Pao Pepper5,000 SHU
Bulgarian Carrot Pepper3,000 SHU
Italian Sweet Pepper500 SHU
Cambuci100 SHU
Sweet Bell Pepper0 SHU

The Scoville scale measures pepper heat through laboratory dilutions with sugar water. This determines the point capsaicin is no longer detectable.

As chili cultivation advances, hotter varieties aim to become world’s hottest pepper.

Is Black Pepper Still Healthy If It Burns?

Black pepper mouth burn is rarely dangerous. Some benefits of black pepper:

  • Aids digestion
  • Enhances mood by releasing endorphins
  • Warms body during illness
  • Adds flavor to dishes

Can Black Pepper Cause Mouth Ulcers?

Black pepper does not cause mouth ulcers. But it may irritate existing ulcers by:

  • Aggravating nerve endings
  • Irritating mouth lining

Those with mouth sores should seek medical advice before eating black pepper. Treatment can help manage ulcers until healing occurs.

Does Black Pepper Cause Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome causes hot, tingly pain in the mouth and tongue. It differs from black pepper burn in key ways:

  • Burning mouth syndrome has no known cause
  • It occurs randomly without eating trigger foods
  • It spreads from mouth to throat

Black pepper burn results directly from consuming piperine. It does not cause burning mouth syndrome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does black pepper allergy cause mouth burn?

Yes, mouth burn after black pepper may signal an undiagnosed pepper allergy. Food allergies often result from:

  • Histamine intolerance
  • Hypersensitivity to certain compounds

In black pepper allergy, the culprit is piperine.

Can black pepper cause mouth ulcers?

No, black pepper does not directly cause mouth ulcers. But it can irritate existing ulcers. Avoid black pepper and other spices if you have mouth sores. Eat mild, bland foods to ease pain.

Why does black pepper make me sick?

Consuming too much black pepper can cause sickness. But pepper tolerance varies. Those with low tolerance or pepper allergy may experience:

  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach upset
  • Acid reflux

Overconsumption, not normal spiciness, leads to pepper sickness.

The Bottom Line

  • Black pepper burns the mouth due to piperine binding receptors
  • The spicy sensation tricks the brain’s temperature regulation
  • Pepper tolerance means burn level varies by individual
  • Dairy products offer the fastest relief for pepper mouth burn

I hope this breakdown helps explain why black pepper zings some mouths. Understanding the science can prevent painful flare-ups. With the right precautions, we can all enjoy this versatile spice and its unique flavor.

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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