Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Favorite Molecule

 I picked an organic molecule called capsaicin. I chose this molecule because I love spicy food so I thought it would be interesting to research what ingredient makes certain foods hot.The name derived from the fruit of capsicum which is where capsaicin is found.  The funny thing about capsaicin is that it depends on the environment and genetics. To paint a picture of how this molecule works, lets look at bell peppers versus chili peppers.  Bell peppers have a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin; therefore it is not hot. Chili peppers, on the other hand, are very hot due to the dominant gene of capsaicin. 

     Now that we know where the spiciness comes from, lets examine its use as an ingredient in pain relief. Capsaicin is an ingredient that is used in many topical skin cremes and lotions. Many of you may know the most common one, Icy Hot. These types of cremes and lotions are effective because the capsaicin acts as an irritant that depletes the chemical in the body that sends pain impulses to the brain. 

     Now that we have discussed the two common uses of capsaicin, I would like to acknowledge Christian Friedrich Bucholz. Christian Friedrich Bucholz discovered capsaicin, an active component that many spicy food lovers like myself enjoy, in 1816. The component was later synthesized by E. Spath and S. F. Darling in 1930. Now the spicy molecule we are familiar with is formulated as 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide or C18H27NO3. 




  1. Hi Bree!
    This is Katie, and I love spicy food too! I think it's very interesting that capsaicin was discovered all the way back in 1816 and that it acts in only a dominant form. It also peaks my interest as to what the different environments are that controls the spiciness of the peppers.
    This was a great blog post, and I really feel like eating some spicy wings now.
    - Katie

  2. Hm this is something new. I never noticed what makes food spicy (besides spices and hot sauce). I am a fanatic for spicy food. I have been eating hot stuffs since I was 3 years old. My son is also following in my footsteps as well (I do not know why he does, but he has been eating spicy food since he could eat solids). Learning something new about something we love is always a great way to learn.