A sneeze is a reflex that is triggered when nerve endings inside
the mucous membrane of the nose are stimulated.
Pepper, be it white, black, or green, contains an alkaloid of
pyridine called piperine. Piperine acts as an irritant
if it gets into the nose. It stimulates (or irritates) the nerve
inside the mucous membrane. This stimulation will cause you to
sneeze. Actually, the nose wants to kick out this irritant and
the only way it knows how to do this is by sneezing.
Did you know ...
- Sneezing is called sternutation.
- When you sneeze air rushes out your nose at a rate of 100
miles per hour!
- There are an estimated 5 million scent receptors in the human
- Our noses produce an estimated one to two pints of mucus
- Known as the "king of spices" because it is one
of the oldest and most popular spices in the world.
- Pepper was so valuable that in ancient Greece and Rome it
was used as currency.
- It is believed that when the Goths defeated
410, they demanded a ransom of 3,000 pounds of pepper, along
other valuables such as silk.
- During the middle ages, peppercorns were accepted in lieu
of money for dowries, rent and taxes.
- During the 19th century, Salem, Massachusetts played an
important role in the world pepper trade and made some
Katzer's Spice Pages -
The entry for piper nigrum includes information
on the etymology and origin of black pepper. Also includes
translation of pepper in many different languages and selected
links for more information.
- How Products are Made: Pepper -
Explains the process of manufacturing pepper.
- Piper nigrum Information from NPGS/GRIN -
Provides references on the taxonomy, common names, economic impacts, and distribution of piper nigrum.
- Why do we sneeze? - by Alicia Ault in Smithsonian.com, December 29, 2015.
- Why Do We Sneeze? - from Scientific American. by Pamela Georgeson. "Sneezing is a physiologic response to the irritation of the respiratory epithelium lining of the nose."
pepper: Piper nigrum. Edited by P.N. Ravindran. Australia,
Harwood Academic, 2000. 553 p.
Meredith Saylers. Flavor foods: spices and herbs. Minneapolis,
Lerner Publications, c2000. 88 p. (Juvenile)
Frederic. The book of spices. Wynnewood, PA, Livingston
Pub., 1969. 489 p.
E. A. Spice crops. Wallingford, Oxon, U.K., New York,
CABI Pub., c2002. 411 p.
more print resources...
Search on "pepper
spice," "piper nigrum," and "spices"
in the Library of Congress Online
Black Pepper. From UCLA's Special Collection, "Spices."
Piper nigrum L.. From UCLA's Special Collection, "Spices."