Why Does Wasabi Burn My Brain? (Is It Safe? Explained!)

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Wasabi and ginger are two of my least favorite parts of sushi because I can never eat them without feeling like my head is on fire afterwards. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with sushi. Yet, when one considers it logically:

Why does wasabi burn my brain? The wasabi root contains a chemical called allyl isothiocyanate. When the root is grated and chewed, this chemical is released and produces a burning sensation in the nose and sinuses. This receptor triggers neuropeptides to go to your brain and cause pain.

Learn more about what causes this and how to stop it from occurring by reading on!

Wasabi causes my brain and head to burn.

Ginger is a very close relative of the wasabi plant since they both come from the same family as horseradish. Wasabi causes a burning sensation in the brain; why is this? Mustard oil is one of the chemicals that are found in it (allyl isothiocyanate). If you consume mustard seeds, your mouth, nose, and sinuses will get inflamed, and you will experience a burning sensation throughout your body. This substance can also be found in other types of seeds.

Mustard oil isnt the only substance that generates this response. The compound known as capsaicin, which is present naturally in spicy peppers, is responsible for producing the sensation that your brain is on fire. The exact same effect takes place when you consume cloves or black pepper, both of which contain piperine (which contain eugenol).

Why are you sensing wasabi in your brain?

How exactly does this process work? Wasabi, it seems, gets its distinctive flavor from a chemical known as allyl isothiocyanate, which is the primary component (AITC). The trigeminal nerve in your nose gets stimulated as a result of this.

Your ability to feel pain and other feelings in your face and mouth is made possible by a nerve called the trigeminal nerve.

The trigeminal nerve is responsible for the release of neuropeptides throughout the body after it has been stimulated. Chemical messengers called neuropeptides are responsible for transmitting pain throughout the body.

Now here’s the strange part: your brain isn’t always aware of the origin of these neuropeptides! Instead, your brain just registers the fact that it is aware of the presence of a stimuli of a spicy kind someplace inside you.

However, if there are an abnormally high number of neuropeptides in one location, such as your nose or mouth, your brain may have the perception that it has to disperse the sensation of pain more uniformly throughout the rest of your head by causing you to have a headache.

It’s also possible that it makes you cry because it thinks you’ve got something spicy in one of your eyes. Perhaps it may induce pressure in your sinuses since your body believes something hot is trapped up there.

When it comes to keeping us safe from harming our bodies, our brains may be too cautious at times, even when we knowingly put ourselves in danger by consuming foods with a high level of heat.

Why Does Wasabi Burn Nose and Sinuses?

What happens to your brain after eating wasabi?

So, what exactly does place when you consume wasabi? Endorphins, in a single word. The pungent quality of mustard and other cruciferous vegetables, including horseradish and mustard greens, is closely tied to the presence of a chemical called allyl isothiocyanate, which is responsible for the fiery quality of wasabi.

This chemical irritant causes the brain to go into full defensive mode in order to protect itself by binding to nerve endings in the mouth, nose, and eyes (as it does with pain).

What is the result? A surge of feel-good endorphins You may also seek up the term “runner’s high” if you want another phrase for the endorphin surge. Runner’s high is another term for the feeling that you get when your brain’s self-defense system goes off.

Is wasabi beneficial to the brain?

Wasabi has been shown to have positive effects on the brain. There have been a few studies done on animals that show that the chemical 6-Methylsulfinylhexyl isothiocyanate (6-HITC), which is generated from wasabi, may help decrease inflammation and prevent neurodegeneration; however, further study on people is required to validate these benefits.

Wasabi, on the other hand, does contain some antioxidants and may help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Also, research conducted on mice indicates that it may prevent some forms of cancer. Moreover, it has antimicrobial characteristics, which qualify it as a respectable food preservative and provide a good justification for why your breath smells like sushi.

Why does wasabi cause a burn on the back of my head?

This essay is for you if you are one of those persons who, after eating wasabi, has a sensation similar to that of their head splitting apart. We have investigated the scientific basis of wasabi in order to shed light on the question of why eating this root vegetable may result in a burning sensation in the nasal cavity, which can then extend to the brain.

To begin, let’s take a cursory glance at the nature of wasabi: Wasabia japonica, often known as Japanese horseradish, is a plant that is native to Japan as well as certain regions in China. While it is closely related to horseradish from the West (Armoracia rusticana), it does not taste the same and does not have the same chemical components as horseradish from the West.

When you eat Western horseradish, it will cause your eyes to water due to the high concentration of sinigrina glucosinolate, which is an ester containing sulfur. When exposed to acids such as lemon juice or vinegar, sinigrina glucosinolate breaks down into allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), which emits a pungent odor. This will cause your eyes to water. Since the AITC has such a strong odor, it will make your eyes wet and cause your nose to run.

How can you get rid of wasabi burn?

While eating wasabi, these are some of the safety precautions you should take to avoid being burned:

  • Do not touch your nose, eyes, or any other part of your face after eating wasabi.
  • If you start to feel the burn, rinse your mouth with water. This can be enough to solve the problem.
  • If you want to prevent future wasabi burns, rinse your hands thoroughly with water after eating it and make sure not to rub them on your body. If you do happen to touch a sensitive area afterward and get wasabi in it, wash it off with water immediately!

You might also try chewing on a bit of sugar or eating a slice of ginger. All of these options are available. The wasabi compounds that are responsible for the burning sensation may be mitigated with the aid of these home treatments.

You may also take an over-the-counter antihistamine to assist relieve the burning feeling if it becomes too much for you to bear. This can help lessen the agony.


The molecule known as allyl isothiocyanate is what causes a burning feeling in the brain, which is typically felt after eating wasabi. This chemical causes the brain to enter full defensive mode, which causes the burning sensation. Because of this, you can feel a minor burning or soreness.

  • Is Wasabi Hot?
  • Does Wasabi Have Capsaicin?
  • Wasabi Scoville
  • Can Wasabi Kill You?
  • How Much Wasabi Is Too Much?
  • Can You Eat Wasabi While Pregnant?

Wasabi: The Key to Accessing Its Scientific Potential


What does wasabi do to your brain?

Good mental health

Wasabi contains ITCs, which have the potential to have neuroprotective benefits. Researchers working with mice found that administering these supplements caused a greater activation of antioxidant mechanisms in the brain, which in turn reduced levels of inflammation ( 30 , 31 ).

Why does wasabi burn your nose and head?

Wasabi contains allyl isothiocyanate, a molecule that is also present in mustard and horseradish. This pungent component is responsible for the nasal burning sensation caused by wasabi. Allyl isothiocyanate has a limited potential for toxicity, and there is no evidence that it may cause cancer in humans. During the course of more than 60 years, it has been manufactured for sale.

Why is wasabi so painful?

Wasabi and horseradish both contain allyl isothiocyanate, which releases vapors that go through the back of the tongue and into the nasal cavity when we consume them. Dr. Dawn Chapman, the project leader for sensory research at the National Food Laboratory, says that this causes the characteristic tingling and burning sensation in the nose because it activates a nerve response in the nose and sinuses.

Why does horseradish burn the back of your head?

Allyl isothiocyanate, the primary chemical irritant in horseradish, stimulates the same class of chemical receptors on the same sensory cells in your mouth, throat, nose, sinuses, face, and eyes as do tear gas agents and the capsaicin found in pepper spray. Capsaicin is the chemical in chili peppers that causes your mouth to burn when you eat them.

Is wasabi killing bacteria?

Wasabi, commonly referred to as Japanese horseradish, is effective in eliminating microorganisms, particularly those that can be present in raw seafood. When you order sushi, you should be aware that some types of sushi, such as those featuring fried tempura, cream cheese, or mayonnaise, include additional calories and fat, which may rapidly mount up.

Can wasabi hurt you?

Wasabi is known to contain hepatotoxin, which is a substance that is harmful to the liver. But, when used in moderation, it poses no health risks. Acid reflux may be brought on by wasabi because of its pungent and spicy flavor characteristic. If you suffer from stomach ulcers, gastritis, heartburn, or any other digestive disease, you should limit or avoid eating wasabi.

Does wasabi have any health benefits?

It seems that wasabi has properties that are beneficial against germs, cancer, and inflammation. Moreover, it seems to prevent the formation of blood clots and promote bone development.

What happens if you eat a mouthful of wasabi?

Yet, taking an excessive quantity of wasabi might worsen gastrointestinal conditions such as gastritis and acid reflux, as well as cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, sweating, or disorientation in some people.

How do you get rid of a wasabi burn?

In the article that was published yesterday, there was a discussion of an innovative treatment for the stinging sensation that occurs after eating wasabi from Japan. Vinegar, very unexpectedly, is the remedy.

Can wasabi cause heart problems?

This instance is noteworthy from a medical point of view since the wasabi caused a disease known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, sometimes known as “broken heart syndrome.” This illness causes the left ventricle to abruptly and briefly become weaker when it is subjected to stress.