How Ibuprofen and Virgin Olive Oil Can Make You Want To Cough

Ever wonder about that pepper and coughing compelling need felt in the back of the throat when sucking some extra virgin olive oil?
If you are addicted EVOO as we (and who does not?) The answer is probably yes.

A receiver in the back of the throat seems to recognize an anti-inflammatory agent of extra virgin olive oil.
Ilker Canikligil /
A receiver in the back of the throat seems to recognize an anti-inflammatory agent of extra virgin olive oil.

Therefore, we have another question. Have you ever tried to swallow a tablet of ibuprofen when I had a glass of water around - and ended with a burning pain in the back of the throat that took hours to disappear? We had to occur as well.

Well, it turns into a strange coincidence that both sensations are caused by the same thing - something called the TRPA1 receptor.

TRPA1 is a protein on the surface of cells in the back of the throat. Probably not as a defense against harmful chemicals in the air. But it is also uniquely sensitive to EVOO and ibuprofen (and similar nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

That's interesting for scientists, as the common link is one of the most important phenomena of medicine - the inflammation and the chemicals that get wet.

Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and collaborators have found that recipients of the back of his throat recognize an anti-inflammatory agent called oleocanthal EVOO. The chemical is a potent inhibitor of an inflammatory enzyme called COX (cyclooxygenase). And that's how ibuprofen to reduce inflammation.

The overlap between EVOO and ibuprofen is the subject of an article in the January 19 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Back to cough EVOO. The olive oil connoisseurs know that the response of the cough is a marker of how the oil is hot - a sign of purity. EVOOs even rate as a cough, cough-two, even three-cough.

This itching is valued in other foods and condiments - the wasabi, the tear-inducing green mustard served with sushi. O indispensable ingredient called garlic. (A related receptor is responsible for the perception of the chemical capsaicin, which makes peppers hot.)

But the same receptor activated by a nice EVOO is also responsible for the get-me-outta-here feel when humans inhaling tear gas, exhaust pipe and the acrid smoke that suffocates the fire department. Insect repellent citronella also works by tripping TRPA1.

Monell scientists said that the reason it is that makes you cough TRPA1 is placed in "the last possible point of control" before harmful air between the airways deep in the lungs. Coughing is the body's way of expelling bad air before it does real damage.

So it is ironic that humans have become a primary defense against noxious fumes in an indicator of quality gourmet? The authors wonder if you might have something to do with the health benefits of anti-inflammatory chemicals.

"We suggest," they write, "a process not yet well understood, people have come, perhaps unconsciously, to transform an unpleasant sensation in itself a positive development because it has beneficial health effects" - namely, the effects anti-inflammatory.

More than just a curiosity, observation may contain medically valuable clues. Perhaps, scientists think, the TRPA1 receptor can be told something about the treatment of chronic pain and asthma.

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