Do you need to regain your sense of smell? It’s a well known fact that one of the main symptoms of Covid is a loss of your sense of smell and taste (also known as amnosia). And although this doesn’t sound too terrible, if you’ve not had it happen to you, it’s actually really distressing for those going through it. As an aromatherapist, smell is probably my most treasured sense; I never take it for granted, and over the last year, my worst fear of catching Covid, was loosing my sense of smell. I just love sniffing stuff, even my smelly dogs.
The main problem with losing your sense of smell is that it will also dramatically affect your sense of taste, and enjoying eating pleasant tasting foods, which is so important to our emotional well-being.
As I always discuss with attendees at my workshops, your sense of smell is intrinsically linked to our emotions; think of when you get a whiff of school dinners, walking past a primary school, and you are back there, in the playground in your mind. Or someone walks by wearing the perfume your granny used to wear; immediately you can picture everything about being with her. Smell is so important and we should not underestimate how central it is to our well-being.
Regaining your sense of smell after illness (not just covid) is so important. And something you can work on at home quite easily.
What’s happening in your nose?
COVID is a particularly nasty virus, as it not only harms your respiratory system, it also damages your nervous system. What happens is that the virus travels up your nose and attaches itself to the olfactory nerve, which is at the top of the nose and responsible for conveying sensory information related to smell to your brain. This damages both your sense of smell and taste; it may remove them altogether, or just make everything weird and different to how it was before.
So the way to get it all back to the way it was before is to basically retrain your brain. And this means sniffing lots of different things around your home whilst thinking about what it is that you are smelling; reminding yourself of what things smell like.
What to sniff
As soon as you realised you have a problem with smell and taste, start working on getting it back. Have a think about what you have around the house that smells quite strong, for example: coffee, bread, garlic, onions, lemons, perfume, and for me, obviously, essential oils are a great tool to use to help.
I think you could really benefit from sniffing some quite specific essential oils that you are already familiar with that are quite strong and distinctive; i’m thinking lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary, and geranium. But there are, of course, many more. I’m thinking here of essential oils you will be familiar with.
You know what these things smell like, and the idea is that you sniff them and you remind yourself what they smell like, and repeatedly sniff sniff sniff.
There is no magic answer as to how long this will take you, just keep doing it, even if you feel you are not getting anywhere initially.
If you need an little helping hand, I can put together a set of 4 strong smelling essential oils into small bottles and send them to you, and you can use them to do your smell training. The cost would be £23.50 (inc P&P), contact me if you’d like to do this. Or you can pop along to your local health food shop and buy a few. Just take the lids off and sniff, several times a day, taking your time.
In terms of other things you can do – obviously eating a healthy balanced diet with loads of anti-inflammatory foods will help your body to be its absolute best. And there is some evidence that a supplement called alpha lipoic acid helps to repair nerve damage to the body, so this may help, although more research needs to be done. You can google it and decide if that is worth a try. You can buy it as a supplement from Viridian. I’ve also heard anecdotal evidence that taking a quercetine supplement works.
As I said, it is important to get your smell back; it’s important not just for your emotional well-being, but to ensure you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your sense of smell can also alert you to danger (think smoke, or a gas leak) so if, after 6 months or so, you are not making any progress at all, it is worth speaking to your GP to see if anything can be done.
I hope this is helpful and please do contact me if you think I can help you with a little set of oils to sniff. I do already make a pure essential oil blend which helps with anxiety, which you may find useful, it’s called Release.
You can read more about this on the NHS website, by clicking here.