Chili Heat & Tolerance
Hot Chilis

Lets make one thing clear right up front. The hotness of natural chilis can do you no real harm. The pain is fake - it's a nerve receptor thing and no actual damage is being done. Even the incendiary Red Habaneros in the photo will do no actual harm. Birds, lacking the nerve receptor found in mammals, detect no heat at all and feast on chilis.

Persons little exposed to chili hotness will experience mostly pain, which will mask flavors and decrease enjoyment of the food the chilis are included in. Further, the following morning the hapless neophyte will experience "afterburn", reminding him/her of previous suffering.

With frequent exposure to chili heat, the sensitivity of the nerve receptors decreases. A whole new realm of flavor and sensation opens up to those who have paid their dues. New digestive enzymes develop and "afterburn" is just a faded memory.

An excellent way to build up tolerance is to have your lunches at a Thai restaurant. Keep increasing the amount of the table condiments you use until you can order stuff "extra spicy" and enjoy it.

Considerable information, including heat scale and details of specific chili varieties will be found on our Chili Page.

Experience aside, even the most hardened chili hound must observe certain precautions. Chili heat can be intensely painful, even debilitating, but fortunately the pain goes away fairly quickly.

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©Andrew Grygus - agryg@clovegarden.com - Photos on this page not otherwise credited © cg1 - Linking to and non-commercial use of this page permitted