Comment from Rosemary Braun 2005 Apr 28

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From: Rosemary Braun
Date: 2005 Apr 28
Subj: on dangerous candy...

You wrote...

> They say "nikochin san amido" is Japanese for niacinamide. Whew! (Of
> course, this still begs the question--why did this gum make my face 
> itch?)

Actually, it's probably precisely the niacinamide -- vitamin b3 -- that made your face itch; the effect is called a niacin flush. A lot of niacin supplements are buffered to stop this happening (the bottle'll say if it is or not), but you can still get a flush if you find unbuffered niacin or if you eat enough of it.

[I used to do this as a kid, along with using vit C tablets to chemically score the roof of my mouth. It's probably a good thing those were the most active substances within my reach...]

Niacin/niacinamide (B3) is also sometimes referred to as nicotinic acid/nicotinamide since it was first discovered as a nicotine oxidation product -- hence the nomenclatory confusion. Niacin and nicotine are totally different things, though. OTOH, imagine the get-your-vitamins-through-smoking campaign that Phillip-Morris could indulge in on the basis of this...

Speaking of freaky candy, there's an Icelandic licorice called Opal which, in some flavors (they all taste like anisette but they come in different colored boxes; the one I'm thinking of is Opal Blue), contains *chloroform*. (Like licorice? Knock yourself out.) It makes your mouth buzz, a little like weak Sucrets might, and who knows what else.


Rosemary (who surfed over from Lene's blog at

This was some interesting news, the bit about niacin flush. If "news" is the word I'm looking for. It was news to me. Googling around a bit, I got the impression that niacin causes niacin flush, but that niacinamide does not. So why did my face itch?