In the new study, researchers identified the receptor on sensory nerve cells that is activated by condiments like mustard and wasabi, as well as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other strong-tasting vegetables. The receptor, called ANKTM1, is a member of a family of cellular channels known as the transient receptor potential (TRP) family.
There is evidence that ANKTM1 is involved in activating pain-sensing nerve cells in response to inflammatory agents. Knowing that isothiocyanates send ANKTM1 into action could give a “starting point” from which to develop drugs for inflammatory pain, which marks conditions such as arthritis.
In another finding, the researcher and his colleagues found that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, also activates ANKTM1.
The significance of this is not yet clear, but the finding broadens the “classical view” of how THC and cannabis-like compounds act on the nervous system.