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How can I Reduce the Pain After Eating Hot Peppers?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hot peppers are a delicious and spicy ingredient in many ethnic cuisines, and most inquisitive diners are familiar with the sensation of having bitten into a hot pepper which is too hot. The painful sensation associated with hot peppers is caused by a substance called capsaicin, which has a crystalline structure ideally designed to irritate the delicate mucus membranes of the mouth. Fortunately, there are several techniques for reducing the pain spicy peppers can cause, and most of them involve items commonly included with an ethnic meal such as rice, yogurt, and limes.

Some consumers find that drinking tomato juice or biting into a lemon or lime helps with the pain of hot peppers. This is probably due to the high acid content of these foods, which helps to neutralize the alkaline capsaicin. You can also try to dissolve the capsaicin in hot peppers with alcohol. Under no circumstances should you drink water, because capsaicin is an oil, meaning that it is not water soluble. Instead of washing the capsaicin out of your mouth, you will merely spread it around, increasing the amount of pain that you feel.

Many ethnic meals include simple carbohydrates like rice and bread such as naan. If you are eating spicy peppers, take advantage of these absorbent carbohydrates to help cut some of the bite. The capsaicin will be lifted out of your mouth, greatly reducing the amount of pain that you feel. Be cautious, though, and try to avoid heavily spiced breads, such as naan which may have been soaking in a curry.

Dairy products also help to resolve capsaicin, because the substance is highly soluble in fats. Drink a glass of milk to cut the burning sensation, or try yogurt, which has the advantage of a high acid balance as well. Many Indian meals come with small dishes of yogurt mixed with ingredients like cucumber and dill for this very purpose. Coconut milk can also help to dissolve capsaicin, but avoid spiced coconut curries, which will only increase the painful feeling. Whenever available, foods that are high in fat and/or sugar can be very useful when trying to combat spiciness. Examples of this exist in many culinary practices, such as Thai iced tea, or the use of cheese in spicy Mexican cooking.

It also helps to know how to handle hot peppers safely when cooking. When working with very spicy peppers, you may want to consider using gloves while you deseed them and remove the white ribs, as these parts of the peppers are the spiciest. Chop the peppers with care on a separate cutting board so that you do not inadvertently spice the salad or other ingredients being eaten raw, and wash your hands thoroughly to avoid getting capsaicin in your eyes, nose, and other delicate body parts.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon359319 — On Dec 16, 2013

sugar! That will kill the heat. Scoville unit anyone? It's not great for your teeth but will get the heat down in a hurry. (Hint: that's why you see sugar packets everywhere at a hot sauce festival.)

By anon351539 — On Oct 15, 2013

Well I was so stupid. I watched people eating ghost peppers online and found it so funny.

I love my food hot, am 50 years of age, and I ordered 50g of naga jolokia pods, online. I have had the flu for a few days and was feeling like crap, so there I was, making a video like the rest of them. I are three in total, since three is my lucky number.

Trust me, when I ate the first one, I was all right. I just had tears coming from my eyes. Eating the next two together was so stupid. After that, I was sweating all over and the heat was unreal. I was in so much pain. Luckily my daughter told me what to do, and it worked. Melted butter and cheese helped the pain subside, but my butt in the morning was another story. I'll never forget in my life that I had blood coming out and it felt like someone put a blow touch up my butt. Do not try this anyone.

By anon348643 — On Sep 19, 2013

I have been eating hot peppers for a while now. Habaneros give me very little discomfort. I am able to deal with a ghost pepper as well. The pepper that affects me most is the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. While the mouth sensations are negligible with mild stomach upset, the painful stomach cramps later are the issue. That is why I am doing a search that led me here.

Regarding things that cut heat, the methods seem to be listed. Breads soak up the oils, sugar cuts the heat (don't drink soda because the carbonation is an irritant), milk encapsulates the capsaicin, and I have heard that salt is effective from a Mexican friend but have not tried it (Thanks for the tip as well anon27939!). I have not tried vinegar but am definitely going to test it out anon308648. For everyone else though, I would suggest, if you are not in shock from the heat, to just tough it out. Typically in fifteen minutes the burn has dissipated. By attempting the cool down, it never allows your endorphins to kick in and you torture yourself over and over again.

By anon343378 — On Jul 29, 2013

Eat butter or fake butter after you eat a hot pepper or raw garlic. It works for me.

By anon311414 — On Jan 01, 2013

I just did a science fair project, and I found that sweet lemonade worked more effectively than milk in reducing the spiciness in your mouth.

By anon308648 — On Dec 11, 2012

Vinegar works really well; it chemically neutralizes the capsaicin. In my experience, it works the best of all the things mentioned. I can take a whole Habanero and grind it into 16oz of some bean soup, add a couple tablespoons of vinegar, and the burning is gone. It's still hot but there's no burning on the tongue or mouth, so it feels like it isn't very hot at all. Also, afterwards, after it's been digested, do some exercise or something strenuous which causes muscle pain. Normally, you'll find it much easier and minus the pain. I realized this since I'm an avid bicycle rider and noticed one day I felt no pain or strain going up hills, which normally cause that. I figured the only thing I had done differently was eat some habaneros the past few days.

So I did an experiment, and it turns out I was right in my suspicion. I don't know how much you need to eat to get that effect, but I ate two habaneros over a day and experienced increased endurance and lack of muscle fatigue or pain while undergoing strenuous bike riding.

By anon296790 — On Oct 12, 2012

I tried an over-night pickled jalapeno and almost died.

By anon150411 — On Feb 07, 2011

Finding myself in great pain after cutting up and eating fresh hot peppers. I tried the milk, then V-8 juice, salt, and finally used sour cream spread over my lips and under my nose. I couldn't believe how much better I felt. Thank you everybody for your comments. It's nice to have home remedies that work!

By anon107444 — On Aug 30, 2010

I had a totally, bad experience with hot peppers just yesterday. My lips were burning; tried ice - that made it worse. I finally drank some milk - that made it start feeling better.

I washed my hands after touching the peppers; but I rubbed my eye and then my eye started burning. I had to rinse that out with cold water.

After that my fingers on my left hand that I cleaned and de-seeded the peppers with started burning. It seemed like it was never going to end; the burning sensation.

Needless to say I will never be eating any more hot peppers - a lesson learned!!!

By anon27939 — On Mar 08, 2009

In case you ever get pepper in your eyes, lick a bit of salt immediately. I didn't believe this, but I tried it once and it actually worked. Instantly!

By rltomkinson — On Apr 23, 2008

I have been told that orange juice helps a lot more than milk does, but have not tried it as I enjoy the burning sensation. That is the whole reason I eat peppers.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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