In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, loss of smell, or anosmia, emerged as one of the main symptoms, affecting countless individuals. However, recent research published in the journal Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery brings a glimmer of hope1. It appears that a smaller percentage of people are now experiencing this distressing symptom. Despite this positive shift, it's important to acknowledge the ongoing challenges many face in the aftermath of the virus.
A report by The Washington Post has has shed light on the lingering impact of COVID-19 on our olfactory nerve cells2. The virus appears to trigger a prolonged immune assault on these cells, which contributes to the loss of smell. While the numbers of those affected might be decreasing, the magnitude of this issue remains significant. Fortunately, there are simple and effective tools that can help you retrain your sense of smell after experiencing COVID-19.
Smell Retraining Therapy: Exercising Your Nose
One emerging approach that shows promise is Smell Retraining Therapy, also known as scent stimulation. This method involves actively engaging your sense of smell to gradually rebuild its strength and accuracy. Much like working out a muscle that has become weak, retraining your nose involves deliberate practice and consistency.
“You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone,” the famous line from the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” hits home when you experience a loss of the smell. The ability to smell is a massive part of who we are. Smell instantly provides clues and messages to our brains that help us navigate our world safely on a daily basis. There is hope for anyone experiencing loss of smell due to covid or other circumstances. The olfactory nerves or neurons are some of the most resilient in the body, able to regenerate in six weeks. Retraining the neurons with unique and distinct essential oils on a daily basis can further enhance regaining the sense of smell and regeneration of those neurons. Keep your Scent Stimulation Kit by your toothbrush and commit to a twice-daily inhale. You will be glad you did.” - Founding President of ACHS, Dorene Petersen
The Science Behind Smell Retraining
Smell Retraining Therapy focuses on exposing your olfactory system to a variety of scents on a regular basis. By consistently engaging with different aromas, you stimulate the olfactory nerve pathways, encouraging them to regenerate and restore your sense of smell3. This process is particularly effective for individuals who have experienced post-viral olfactory dysfunction, such as the loss of smell associated with COVID-19.
Getting Started: Your Smell Retraining Routine
To embark on your smell retraining journey, follow these simple steps:
- Select Four Distinct Aromas: Choose a set of four essential oils with distinctly different aromas. This variety will challenge your olfactory system and enhance its adaptability.
- Fruity: Lemon, Lime, Bitter Orange, Grapefruit
- Floral: Rose, Ylang Ylang
- Spicy: Clove Bud, Cinnamon
- Camphorous: Eucalyptus, White Camphor
- Consistent Exposure: Smell each of the chosen essential oils once or twice a day. The best way to do this is by using aroma scent sticks. These sticks allow controlled exposure to the scents, preventing overwhelm while still providing ample stimulation.
- 12-Week Journey: Commit to this routine for 12 weeks. This timeframe is crucial as it allows your olfactory nerves ample time to heal, regenerate, and reconnect. Consistency is key to achieving significant results.
- Track Your Progress: Keep a journal of your experiences throughout the 12-week period. Document any changes in your ability to detect and differentiate scents. This will help you stay motivated and recognize the progress you're making.
The Fragrant Road to Recovery
As you begin smell retraining, remember that patience and dedication are essential. The process may not yield immediate results, but with time and consistent effort, you'll likely notice improvements in your sense of smell. Smell Retraining Therapy offers a proactive approach to recovery, empowering you to take control of your sensory experience once again.
COVID-19 may have altered our olfactory landscapes, but through the power of scent stimulation and retraining, you can navigate your way back to a world filled with the rich tapestry of aromas. So, grab those essential oils, start your daily scent sessions, and begin your fragrant road to recovery.
1Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. (2022, October 2). . American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. https://aao-hnsfjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ohn.384
2Yarber, A. (2023, August 3). Loss of smell and taste is no longer a common covid symptom. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2023/08/03/covid-loss-smell-taste/
3Smell Retraining Therapy. (n.d.). ENT Health. https://www.enthealth.org/be_ent_smart/smell-retraining-therapy/