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Why Pepper Makes Us Sneeze

Burning Question: Why Does Pepper Make You Sneeze?


I've got an undeniable affinity for all things spicy, and I put freshly ground black pepper on just about everything. But without fail, when I season a dish with salt and pepper, I resist the great urge to sneeze. Pepper makes me sneeze so much that merely looking at the picture has me thinking a sneeze is coming on! So why does pepper prompt such a strong physical reaction? As it turns out, the piquant flavor that we love so much in pepper is also the reason why the spice makes us sneeze. Pepper contains piperine, a fiery irritant that inflames the nerve endings that reside inside our noses. Sneezing is an innate reflex reaction to this chemical in pepper, as a way to rid your nasal passages of this compound.

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