DEC 15, 2018 5:05 PM PST

Why Does Your Nose Burn From Eating Wasabi?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Many of us might have thought we had wasabi; the green condiment that comes in packaged Sushi. But, more than often that is actually not wasabi—it’s just horseradish dyed in green. Real wasabi comes from Japan and is usually not commonly sold because of its high price.

Regardless, if you ever had wasabi or just horseradish—then you’re familiar with the burning sensation through your nasal cavity. That burn is from a compound found in some plants called allyl isothiocyante—which triggers your body’s immune system thinking it needs to fight a toxin. The compound specifically binds to receptors present on nerve cells called TRA1—these receptors are commonly found in the nose than the mouth.

Watch the video above to learn more!

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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