Human lungs have taste buds?
Yes, says a recent study in Nature Medicine.
The accidental finding that sounds like science fiction may actually offer succor to asthma patients.
Scientists at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins tested mouse and human lung tissue. Not only did they find taste receptors similar to the taste buds on our tongues, they also found that different tastes triggered effects in the tissue.
For example, bitter flavors relaxed the lung tissue tremendously - better than any other medication tested in the trials.
This could hold great importance for patients suffering from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Bitter flavors could open their airways, often constricted and tightened during an attack.
However, don't think simply eating the bitter foods would help. The researchers believe aerosolized forms of the bitter substances will work best.
The lungs' taste receptors do differ from tongue taste buds. The lung buds are not found in clusters, and they do not send any signals to our brains. Additionally, they can only sense bitter flavors, instead of the sour, sweet, salty and umami scope our tongue can detect.