Milk: best drink to soothe burn from chili peppers and spicy foods

You relish eating hot, spicy food. But this time, your mouth is literally on fire from too much spice especially as the spicy dish that you are savoring is full of chili peppers & also flavored with garam masala. Your immediate reaction would be to gulp half a dozen of glasses of water to relieve that fire in your mouth.

woman biting chili pepper experieces burn

Apparently, water doesn’t soothe a mouth on fire. This burning is actually caused by the component capsaicin present in chilis which adheres to your taste buds and other receptors in your mouth. Plainly, this substance is not soluble in water. So if you try to satiate your burning mouth with water, it doesn’t help.  

Milk:  best drink to reduce burn from chili peppers and spicy foods

woman drinking milk after eating spicy food

Cold milk (boiled and cooled), instead is great. So drink a glass of milk and relieve yourself from the burning sensation. Casein the principle protein in milk, helps remove the capsaicin from your mouth.

Alternatively you can consider buttermilk or yogurt (curds, dahi) also.

Eating a tsp of sugar also helps or you can add 1-2 tsp to a small glass of water, stir well and drink the solution.

According to a recent study conducted by the Sensory Evaluation Center in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, one should should choose milk to reduce the burn caused by eating something spicy like Buffalo wings; they also suggest it does not matter if it the milk is whole or skim.


The researchers looked at five beverages and involved 72 people -- 42 women and 30 men. Participants drank spicy Bloody Mary mix, containing capsaicin immediately after swallowing, they rated the initial burn.

Then, in subsequent separate trials, they drank purified water, cola, cherry-flavored Kool-Aid, seltzer water, non-alcoholic beer, skim milk and whole milk. Participants continued to rate perceived burn every 10 seconds for two minutes.

spicy bloody mary cocktail

All beverages significantly reduced the burn of the mix, but the largest reductions in burn were observed for whole milk, skim milk and Kool-Aid.

"We weren't surprised that our data suggest milk is the best choice to mitigate burn, but we didn't expect skim milk to be as effective at reducing the burn as whole milk," say the researchers.

They further add, "Traditionally, in our work, we use capsaicin and water for research like this, but we wanted to use something more realistic and applicable to consumers, so we chose spicy Bloody Mary mix".

Final Thoughts

Next time around, when your mouth is on fire, instead of reaching for a glass of water, consider drinking cool skimmed or whole milk to reduce the burn caused by biting into chili peppers or eating extremely spicy foods and drinks.

Also am curious to know what methods and tips you follow to relieve burns caused by spicy foods? What other home-remedies or beverages have worked for you? Do share in your comments.

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