Acute Vanillyl Butyl Ether Desensitization on the Human Tongue

Open Access
Keim, Lisa M
Area of Honors:
Food Science
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • John E Hayes, Thesis Supervisor
  • Federico Miguel Harte, Honors Advisor
  • sensory
  • chemesthesis
  • vanillyl butyl ether
  • desensitization
  • food science
Vanillyl butyl ether (VBE) is a unique chemesthetic stimulus that is perceived as warming on the skin and tongue. While other chemesthetic compounds such as capsaicin, zingerone, and menthol have been studied extensively for their sensory properties, including desensitization, no such research has been conducted on VBE, despite its commercial relevancy. The purpose of this research is to determine whether perceptual responses to VBE decrease following acute exposure. First, a pilot dose response study was conducted to determine the appropriate concentration of VBE to use for the subsequent desensitization study. Based on this, I determined that 3200 ppm VBE would be appropriate to investigate desensitization. Intensity ratings for tingling/numbing, warming/burning, and bitter sensations were made on a general Labeled Magnitudes Scale (gLMS) following application of VBE. Data were analyzed using regression analysis, multivariate ANOVA (MANOVA), and Welch’s t-test to determine statistical significance. With repeated exposure at 30 second intervals, mean tingling/numbing and warming/burning intensity ratings decreased over time in ANOVA, and had significant negative slopes in regression. The MANOVA and t-tests revealed that there was a significant drop between the intensity ratings made for the first VBE stimulus and intensity ratings made for the last VBE stimulus, which suggests acute self-desensitization for VBE.