Why does mint taste ‘cold’?
I’m sure we have all experienced the ‘cool’ sensation induced by
eating a mint at some time or another, and the reason why this happens is due to the active ingredient called menthol.
When we perceive something to be hot or cold, this is due to electrical signals from the nerves which come into contact with the hot or cold ‘thing’. Our brain then interprets these electrical signals as instructions such as – ‘that is hot, don’t touch!’ or ‘that is cold’.
Mints usually contain an active ingredient called menthol. Menthol has the ability to affect the pores on our nerve cells which changes the electrical activity of the cell. This change in electrical activity corresponds to the same change that would take place if something cold came into contact with the cell. The cell interprets the change in activity due to menthol as a change in temperature and sends that information to the brain.
This accounts for the ‘coldness’ which we experience when eating a mint.