Saturday, November 10, 2007

pores and peppermint

ok. does peppermint make you cold? does it open your pores? a debate with steven got me wondering. it involved the peppermint scented Dr. Bronners magic soap (which i don't care for because it is so minty it makes my whole body feel like an icecube and continues to long after i've dried off and dressed). steven likes it because it claims to "open your pores", yet i was sure that pores didn't just open and close, and he was sure that peppermint didn't make you cold, like i said it did. after a little dective work i discover that we are both right and both wrong.
ok. first things first. after some intense googling, i found that our pores do open and close, this is the way in which our bodies keep our temperature consistant. they only open when our body temperature begins to rise, ie, when we are increasing our heart rate, or when it is 95 degrees out. so they open up to let the moisture out. then, they close both when we have returned to regular temperature, AND/OR when our body temperature begins to drop. in this case, when the outside temperature dropps below 53 degrees. so yes, they do open and close. steven is right.
BUT, the simple hot water and cold water tricks to enlarging and shrinking of the pores, particurlarly on the face, aren't effective. i guess, the reasoning here is that hot water does not trigger our body to sweat, at least not in a shower lasting all of ten minutes. extended time, like in a sauna, would however. but, many health and beauty companies adapted this idea in order to seel products, by claiming that the peppermint or menthyol will open the pores, for example. (what i still don't get though, is that if the peppermint simulates cold, wouldn't it- if it were true- then shrink them, and not open them up??)
and so i am also right.

and now let's examine the minty=cold argument.
ok. so i am sure it is not just me that feels cold with mint. i mean even the fact that i brushed my teeth today before i left to ride my bike in the cold air made my teeth hurt and my face cold. i really don't understand how steven doesn't feel these sensations. but, it is true, that the sensors that are stimulated by menthyol are linked to the same receptors that trigger cold sensations. likewise, it is the same principle when we eat those spicy foods, like peppers. and i quote, It's been known for years that menthol and related cooling agents evoke the psychophysical sensation of cold -- somehow by interacting with the aspect of the sensory nervous system that's related to cold detection" according to Diana M. Bautista, PhD, and Jan Siemens, PhD, of the Julius lab and Joshua M. Glazer, PhD, of the lab of co-senior author Cheryl Stucky, PhD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
so, after thouroughly investigating the matter minty does NOT make you cold, meaning that it does not change your body's temperature in the slightest. BUT, it makes us FEEL cold, because is the the same receptors and nerve endings that trigger cold signals to the brain.

so, to sum up, peppermint will not open up your pores, and it will make you feel cold.
lothing like a good argument to get you to do some research!

1 comment:

Julie said...

You have way too much time on your hands!!