Of all the many potential Covid-19 symptoms, loss of smell and taste are two of the most common. They’re also often the earliest indicators someone is infected — and can last long after a person feels better. This has understandably left a lot of folks wondering if there is anything they can do to finally enjoy their favorite aromas and flavorful bites again.
You may have seen a rumor spreading around social media which claims burning the outside of an orange, then scooping out the insides, mushing them together with brown sugar, and eating the mixture can somehow magically return one’s sense of smell and taste. Several people have even shared their attempts at using this so-called remedy but few have found any actual success with it (and those who have may be stretching the truth).
But there is another method that might actually work: scent training. Researchers from Columbia University describe this as “physical therapy, but for the olfactory nerve.” They explain this nerve is responsible for our ability to smell and plays a significant role in our taste, too. Although studies are still trying to pinpoint exactly how the virus affects our senses, there is strong evidence that damage to the olfactory nerve could be the culprit.
Scent training is a simple technique that works by inhaling strong aromas and thinking back on a memory of the scent, eventually hoping to trigger a physical response as well.
The Columbia researchers recommend using fragrant essential oils like rose, lemon, eucalyptus, and clove. Inhale each one through your nose for about 15 seconds and “focus your perception and memory of each smell.” For example, you might try sniffing lemon oil (or just a lemon itself) and thinking back to a lemonade stand you had as a kid — or just sipping on a really refreshing glass of it in the summer.
They also suggest taking 10 second breaks in between each essential oil and repeating the whole process two to three times a day until the senses return.
A study from November found promising results with this type of scent training, especially with participants who were both older and claimed to have more significant loss of smell and taste. We should note that the participants included didn’t appear to lose the senses from the coronavirus, but from similar infections like upper respiratory infections and sinus or neurological diseases. And again, as with everything surrounding Covid, there is still a lot of research to be done — but there should be no harm in trying the technique if you’re frustrated by a continued lack of smell and taste.
The Columbia article also says omega-3 supplements, like Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil (Buy on Amazon, $8.99), have been shown to aid with olfactory nerve repair. Another study claims that an underlying B-12 deficiency can make the nerve more vulnerable to damage, so taking supplements like Nature Made Vitamin B12 (Buy on Amazon, $8.87) might work as well. Just be sure to check with your doctor before adding either supplement to your daily routine.
Here’s hoping at least one of these remedies can help get more smell and taste back in action.
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