If you chew on a mint leaf, you will feel how your mouth begins to spread a pleasant coolness. This is due to the substance menthol, which is contained in mint and affects the system of receptors that are found on the mucous membranes of the mouth. Scientists have found that the Catnip is a substance appeared accidental. Thanks for this must be the evolution of plants. In addition, the researchers decided to dig deeper and find out exactly how menthol creates a cold sensation in your mouth.
How did the menthol in mint?
According to the biologist and chemist Paul wise, the ancestors of modern plants of mint (and they are in the world today, there are 42 species) have developed the ability to synthesize menthol and use it as a protective mechanism. Mint, as you know, has a very strong cooling effect and smell, which may not like and keep the animals away. In other words, the types of plants that can adapt to external threats and also to pass on their genes to subsequent generations, could ultimately survive to the present day.
Today, peppermint is widely used in the manufacture of various products. Ranging from food to cosmetics. And mint due to its properties used in medicine.
Why is peppermint cold?
Simply put, the menthol contained in the mint actually doesn’t cool our mouths. It only creates the illusion of this by forcing our brain to think in the mouth cold. The brain is affected by menthol through a system of sensory receptors. These are nerve cells (neurons) and the nerve endings through which we can feel effects on our body external irritants (cold or warm), and pain. It is a kind of protective mechanism that allows us to protect yourself from injury.
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Located on our skin and the mucous membrane of sensory neurons monitor the environment with the help of special proteins located in the cell membrane (or membrane). These proteins control access to the membrane and beyond, the tiny tunnels called ion channels. Through these channels the neuron receives information about some external stimulus. Usually ion channels are always remain closed. But as soon as the protein receptor detects some kind of stimulus, the cell membrane opens, letting the particles and information of the stimulus (ions) about this stimulus to the neuron.
As soon as receptor proteins sense the influence of chemical substances or temperature change, they start to work and allow ions to penetrate through the membrane, explains Gender wise.
These ions cause the nerve cells to create tiny electrical signals (impulses) that are sent to the brain. These signals contain information that tells the brain that our language, for example, cold.
It should be clear that the receptor proteins are arranged in such a way as to respond only to certain (your) stimuli. For example, for the transfer of information on the impact on a receptor of the cold, scientists say, meets a receptor protein with a complex called TRPM8. It is activated, for example, when we eat ice cream. Or drink cold water.
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Reason the menthol creates a similar sensation of cold in the mouth is that the TRPM8 protein also responds to this substance. Getting on the receptor, it causes the neuron to generate a nerve impulse, as when exposed to this low temperature. In the end, our brain believes that the language of cold,in reality it is not. The high concentration of menthol, trapped on the mucous membrane of the tongue can cause pain. Usually to remove them helps a glass of any milk product (milk, kefir, sour milk, etc.).
The researchers add that in the same way, but with the opposite effect on our receptors are exposed to the substance capsaicin. It contains various types of peppers and it comes to him and burning taste. So when we eat food, liberally sprinkled with pepper, it seems to us that it is very hot.