The generalizability of capsaicin sensitization and desensitization.

Physiology & behavior (1999-07-15)
J Prescott

Studies using capsaicin-saturated filter papers have shown that the intensity of oral irritation tends to grow over successive samples, a phenomenon known as sensitization. If a hiatus of 5-15 min is then introduced, the intensity of irritation produced by a subsequent capsaicin stimulus is much reduced, and desensitization is said to have occurred. The use of other methodologies such as whole-mouth rinses, either with capsaicin or the irritants menthol or zingerone, have not consistently shown this response pattern, casting doubt on the extent to which sensitization and desensitization are general phenomena. Experiment 1 addressed this issue by comparing responses to whole-mouth rinses of 0.6 and 3 ppm capsaicin with those to 3 ppm capsaicin filter papers. Over an initial series of 10 samples, sensitization was evident but only for the 3 ppm capsaicin stimuli. Following a 10-min hiatus, desensitization was observed for all stimulus types. An examination of the data of individual subjects revealed considerable variability in response patterns over the initial 10 samples between subjects and, within subjects, between the filter paper and rinse stimuli, and between the test replications. Desensitization to the posthiatus stimuli was more consistent. A second experiment examined whether the capsaicin sensitization and desensitization shown by stimulation with filter papers or solutions also occurred in the context of the consumption of foods containing capsaicin. Two foods--soup and chili con carne--were consumed under conditions in which the rate of consumption was timed, as in Experiment 1, or was self-paced. In neither of the two conditions or foods was there strong evidence of sensitization, although, again, desensitization following a hiatus was evident. Substantial individual variability in response patterns was again apparent. There is thus no evidence for sensitization occurring during normal food consumption.

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L-Menthol, Pharmaceutical Secondary Standard; Certified Reference Material
L-Menthol, natural, ≥99%, FCC, FG
(−)-Menthol, analytical standard
L-Menthol, ≥99%, FCC, FG
(1R,2S,5R)-(−)-Menthol, ReagentPlus®, 99%
(−)-Menthol, puriss., meets analytical specification of Ph. Eur., BP, USP, 98.0-102.0%
(−)-Menthol, primary reference standard