The *other* spicy things

Wasabi, horseradish, mustard, radish, etc., etc.


The Isothiocyanates (ITCs) (for example, allyl isothiocyanate [AITC])


It’s basically cancer’s second worst enemy (just after ‘shrooms). Also an enemy of anything that tries to eat AITC-containing plants (it’s even harmful to the plant itself!). Actually, AITC is stored in a harmless form, as a glucosinolate. The enzyme myrosinase is stored separately. When the cell walls are broken (something bites into it), and myrosinase comes in contact with glucosinolate, AITC is formed. In the animal kingdom, it’s kinda like tear gas. It’s even harmful to the plant, but better a little chemical burn than eaten alive.



Side note: store-bought wasabi is usually horseradish and maybe some mustard, but for the #context of this article, it doesn’t really matter because they all contain isothiocyanates. If you want to get the right thing, try and find the actual plants; they’re not easy to confuse:





Remember NRF2?

Wasabi does that, too!








For us, it’s what drives the mouth-burning, sinus-clearing, and eye-watering sensations.

Unlike capsaicin (the *other* spicy things; eg, from hot peppers), the burn is much shorter in duration because AITC is water soluble. Try eating a habanero and putting out the fire with ice water.


Capsaicin is fat-soluble; it doesn’t dissolve in water (especially cold water) – so you’re basically just spreading it all around your mouth. Try something with a little fat instead.


Mechanisms of action of isothiocyanates in cancer chemoprevention (Navarro et al., 2011)

chemoprevention > chemotherapeutic

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