Chances are you’re one of millions who enjoy the nose-running, body-sweating, stomach-churning, mouth-burning effects of spicy food. Why do we, as a species, willingly (and enthusiastically) subject ourselves to this? What’s really happening to our bodies when we dig into the hottest curry on the menu? When you ingest the amounts we typically consume in food. In fact, when you eat spicy food, you’re not burning your tongue at all—you’re a victim of a neurological response. When you take a bite out of a chile pepper, the pepper’s membranes release capsaicin, a chemical compound that clamps onto your mouth’s neurotransmitters, which regulate temperature.