Why Does Black Pepper Make My Mouth Burn?

By Bill HappySpicyHour • Updated: 04/23/22 • 7 min read
Black Pepper

Everyone loves the zing black pepper adds to their meals. Its spiciness and hotness make exciting delicacies. Even though black pepper’s hotness is not the worst, several people complain about their mouth burning after consuming black pepper. As a result, it is essential to understand what underlying reasons can make black pepper burn your mouth. 

Black pepper makes your mouth burn because it contains a specific phytochemical— piperine that interacts with the temperature regulating receptors of your mouth. Piperine is what gives black pepper its hotness and is quite similar to the capsaicin of chili pepper.

Hotness or spiciness is pretty relative and depends on people’s tolerance level. So while science says black pepper’s hotness is mild, this article will explain why your mouth burns when exposed to it. Read on to learn more!

How Hot Is Black Pepper Compared to Other Peppers?

Black Pepper

Black pepper is pretty mild compared to other pepper types but has a certain zing to its flavor. Other peppers get their hotness from capsaicin, a photochemical common in most chillis. On the other hand, black pepper gets its hotness from piperine, a different type of phytochemical.

Piperine binds to the thermoreceptors of your mouth, creating the burning sensation you experience. However, black pepper burn is relative and depends on the consumer’s pepper tolerance, mouth condition, sensitivity, etc. 

Additionally, some people find black pepper burn to be extreme because of an allergic reaction to piperine or the presence of some mouth sores. 

How Long Does Black Pepper Mouth Burn Last, and How Do I Stop It?

Since black pepper is relatively mild, the burning sensation you get in your mouth will not last forever. Generally, the heat from hotter chilis lasts for about 20 minutes, while black pepper burn lasts for about 10 minutes. 

Consuming dairy is the quickest way to stop your mouth from burning due to black pepper consumption. The reason is that dairy contains a protein element called casein that binds to the piperin or capsaicin, as the case may be, mopping them off your receptors to create the relief you feel afterward. 

Lactose intolerant people can chew on ice chips as an immediate remedy to their burning mouth. The ice chips work as a temperature reduction measure since it directly intercepts your brain’s response to your mouth somewhat being on fire. However, ice chips are frozen water and are not as effective as consuming dairy. 

How Does Science Explain Black Pepper’s Degree of Hotness?

From a scientific standpoint, the Scoville test was invented to rack world peppers according to their increasing order of hotness. While the Carolina reaper remains the world’s hottest pepper with 2,200,000 SHU (Scoville heat units) and bell peppers, the world’s sweetest or least hottest pepper, black pepper occupies a somewhat middle ground. 

Black pepper measures about 100,000 SHU (Scoville heat units), enough for its hotness to be noticeable but not enough to rank off the charts. As a result, most chefs use black peppers for meals where they require a little heat while maintaining a certain mildness. 

Even though black pepper comes close to red chili, it is not as hot because it does not contain capsaicin. Black pepper is used in cooking to balance hotness, spiciness, and sweetness.  

Below is a table showing several Scoville rankings for different peppers and how they relate to black pepper. 

Pepper Name Scoville Heat Units
Carolina Reaper2,200,000 SHUs
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T1463700 SHUs
Spanish Naga Chilli Pepper1086844 SHUs
Jamaican Hot Pepper350000 SHUs
Red Thai Chilli Pepper150000SHUs
African Bird’s Eye Chilli100000 SHUs
Piperine (Black pepper)100000 SHUs
Red Amazon Pepper57000 SHUs
African Pequin30000 SHUs
New Delhi Long30000 SHUs
Japones Chili20000 SHUs
Black Hungarian Pepper15000 SHUs
Hot Banana Pepper15000 SHUs
Israeli Hot12000 SHUs
Kung Pao Pepper5000 SHUs
Bulgarian Carrot Pepper3000 SHUs
Italian Sweet Pepper500 SHUs
Cambuci100 SHUs
Sweet Bell Pepper100 SHUs
Bell Pepper0 SHUs

The Scoville test is responsible for ranking peppers by hotness. It is carried out in the laboratory by dilutions on different peppers with sugar water until the hotness is no longer detectable by humans. As the world progresses, more and more people continue to cultivate peppers that win the title of the world’s hottest pepper.

Is Black Pepper Good for Me Even When It Burns My Mouth?

Even though black pepper burns your mouth, it offers some health and culinary benefits. Fortunately, black pepper burn is less likely to be lethal unless you are somehow allergic. 

Therefore, here are some benefits of black pepper:

Can I Get a Mouth Ulcer From Consuming Black Pepper?

Black pepper cannot cause mouth sores for you. However, they can make any mouth sores you already have worse by aggravating the nerve endings in your mouth and irritating the mucosal lining of your mouth. 

If you have any mouth sores, it is best to get medical attention and treatment before consuming black pepper. Your primary health care provider will provide you with some medication and home remedy ideas you can use to manage the mouth sores till they are no more. 

Does Black Pepper Cause Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome refers to the burning sensation on your tongue and palate (mouth roof), like the feeling of hot coffee or tea burning your mouth. The hotness associated with burning mouth syndrome is different from that of black pepper. 

Furthermore, burning mouth syndrome has no particular causation and can begin randomly from the mouth, spreading to your throat. On the other hand, black pepper burn is due to your brain’s response to piperine, a phytochemical in black pepper. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Black Pepper Mouth Burn Mean an Allergy?

A black pepper mouth burn could mean an allergy. However, most people may be unaware of their allergic reaction to black pepper until the symptoms become pretty severe. Many people develop food allergies due to histamine intolerance and hypersensitivity to specific compounds, elements, or ingredients that make up the food. In a suspected black pepper allergy, the causal agent is the piperine.

Can Black Pepper Cause Mouth Ulcers?

Black pepper does not cause mouth ulcers. However, eating black pepper can exacerbate your mouth ulcer if you already have it. The reason is that black pepper can irritate the inner lining of your mouth. If you have any mouth sores, you should avoid eating black pepper and other spices and instead opt for mild, bland foods to ease the pain.

Why Does Black Pepper Make Me Sick?

Black pepper only makes you sick when you consume too much of it. However, the feeling of sickness resulting from eating black pepper is relative and does not affect everyone. People who have a weak tolerance or allergic reaction to black pepper might experience heartburn, stomach upset, acid reflux, or indigestion. Essentially, it takes an overdosing or overconsumption of black pepper to feel sick.

Final Thoughts

Black pepper makes your mouth burn like any other spice because the phytochemicals bind to your mouth receptors. The chemical reaction resulting from the binding of the phytochemical and your mouth targets your body’s thermoregulatory system and generates the burning sensation. Essentially, black pepper burn is relative as different people have varying levels of pepper tolerance. While black pepper burn might be pretty discomforting, drinking milk products is an excellent remedy for the burn. 

Bill HappySpicyHour

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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