Just after Thanksgiving, I began recognizing the telltale signs of a COVID infection. Headache, fatigue, coughing, I just felt miserable. After trudging my way to the walk-in for the dreaded nasal swab, my results "lit up like a Christmas tree". I was positive. Mask in hand, I returned home to my bedroom where I would quarantine for 14 days to prevent spreading this to my more vulnerable family.
Admittedly, I had it easy. I am a healthy person, my symptoms were mild and I got out of making dinner and doing the dishes for 14 days as I could not risk exposing my family. Hey, gotta find the silver lining, right? Undoubtedly, my worst symptom appeared around day four of quarantine. As I prepared to work from home, I embarked on my morning routine of sitting quietly as I plan my day over a fresh brewed cup of coffee...but something was different...
I could not smell the awakening aroma of the beans as they infused with the hot water!
I could not taste the hazelnut flavoring that tantalize my taste buds!
COVID had stolen my sense of taste and smell!
A panicked google search entailed..how long will this last? Will I ever taste and smell again?
As with any google search, I began focusing on the small percentage whose taste and smell may take months to return while in rare cases some may never have the luxury of these senses ever again.
Cue the deep breath!
After a few tasteless dinners, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. Spicy foods to reawaken my taste buds and essential oil inhalers for my tired nostrils. I had no idea if it would work but it was worth a try.
Two weeks (and it was a long two weeks) my taste and smell slowly began to return. A hint of smell as the beans were grinding in the coffee maker, a tingle on my tongue as the spicy red pepper flakes warned them.
Did the essential oils and spicy foods really work?
Almost three months later as I am cleaning out my email inbox, I come across a blog from my favorite essential oil provider, Eden's Garden. They had evidence from multiple studies that the use of essential oils could, in fact, help bring back the sense of taste and smell.
Olfactory training with essential oils first took off with a study performed by German doctors in 2009. The study involved four different scent types–floral, fruity, spicy and resinous–represented by Rose, Lemon, Clove and Eucalyptus oil. Anosmic participants were instructed to smell each oil for ten second intervals, twice daily for 12 weeks. The results were very positive, prompting others to further study olfactory training with essential oils.
Could my personal experiment be the reason my taste and smell returned? I will never know. While essential oils are not recognized by the FDA, they can be a powerful tool in your medicine cabinet. Whether diffusing, applying topically or using to clean with, these little brown bottles pack a punch. That said, though they may seem harmless as they are part of nature, some essential oils do have contraindications when it comes to medicines, pets, children, elderly and underlying conditions. It is important to so your research and consult a professional aromatherapist if you are prone to side effects.
If you do plan to embark on your own experiment to get back your senses, I recommend the Eden's garden brand. They are sustainably sources, non-toxic, vegan and animal friendly. Most importantly, they are 100% essential oils with no synthetics or added fragrance. I have also created a 4-pack of Essential Oil Inhalers that include the oils mentioned in the original 2009 study::
Essential oils can be potentially dangerous. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication or have an underlying medical condition, please seek the guidance of a licensed Aromatherapist.
So... what have you missed most about your loss of smell or taste? What personal tricks have you tried and found success?
Share in the comments!