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Mikeís Hot Spicy Food Recipes

Peppermint makes you feel cooler?

  So I bet if you use peppermint in foods you serve in the summer it will make people feel cooler when they eat them?


Clay Thompson

Arizona Republic columnist Clay Thompson offers his humorous look at life in Arizona.

Chilling out with peppermint


Why does peppermint seem to intensify the temperature of a liquid? For example, the other day I was chewing a piece of mint gum and tried to take a drink of chilled water. I could only take one swallow before I got an intense "brain freeze" and had to stop.

I bet you didn't think I could find an answer to this. Ha!

I not only found an answer, but it is possible it might even be the right answer.

First of all, I don't think it is necessarily a matter of peppermint making the water colder. I think the fact that you followed the peppermint with cold water just stepped up the process.

Peppermint has long been known for its cooling effect and is used in many herbal cures for stuff like fevers, nausea, headaches and colic, to name a few.

But it isn't the peppermint itself that brings a cooling sensation. It's menthol, which occurs naturally in peppermint oil. Now you probably didn't know this, but you come equipped with a receptor called a cold- and menthol-sensitive receptor-1 or CMR1, as we like to say around the lab. I think this receptor is in your right leg. Or maybe not. I don't know where it is. In your brain, I guess.

Depending on the circumstances, your CMR1 goes to work at temperatures between about 46 degrees to 82 degrees and makes you feel chilled.

However, that receptor also switches on if it gets a big hit of menthol, and that gives you a chilly sensation.

So as I said I don't think the peppermint gum made the water colder, but the combination of the cold water and the menthol was enough to give you brain freeze. I have heard there are plants one can use to keep stray cats out of my yard. Can you tell me what plants can do this?

I've heard that cats really hate rue, which is an herb. And there is something called Plectranthus caninus, sold as "scaredy cat plant." Zinnias and lavender supposedly work or you might spray the area with a mix of cayenne pepper and water or scatter around some human hair, citrus peels or pipe tobacco.

Reach Thompson at or 602-444-8612.


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Mikeís Hot Spicy Food Recipes