Among Covid-19’s many insidious trademarks is the possible sudden loss of your sense of taste and smell. One study done last June involving almost 9,000 Covid pa- tients, showed that over 41% were affected in this way. Most had some sort of olfac- tory dysfunction, while 18% suffered total loss of smell, called anosmia.
While not fully understood, Science does know that the Coronavirus infects the sustentacular cells that support neurons in the nose. To make matters worse, people can also lose their sense of taste along with their ability to detect tongue sensations such as spiciness. This is chemically triggered, and is known as chemesthesis. Taste and chemesthe- sis are very different from our sense of smell. But, all three perform together to bring us the flavor in our foods and beverages.
Whether a loss of smell by itself, or smell, taste and chemesthesis happen together, it’s a traumatic experience. The good news is most recover within weeks, but for some it can be more serious. Smells may take longer to return, and some remembered smells can actually be replaced with “rancid” ones! (Parosmia.) Others may go months and months before their sense of smell returns to normal.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of research in this area. But through what little has been going on since before the pandemic, there is help. It is called, “smell training.” It involves sniffing at least four different odors twice a day, every- day, for several months. Patients receive a “smell training kit,” which includes, guess what? Herbs and Spices!
Depending on the severity of your loss of smell, you usually begin sniffing four basic essential oils: rose, lemon, clove and eucalyptus. As you progress, scents of cinnamon, rosemary, lavender, honey, thyme, straw- berry, orange, coffee and chocolate are added. At the same time you breathe in, you also try to remember the odor. It’s also a brain-training exercise. Eating spices that produce strong mouth sensations such as gar- lic, cayenne, Sichuan and chili peppers also helps. Researchers have found that smelling and eating herbs and spices help smell pathways to regener-
ate and speed recovery.
Although sense of smell does lessen a bit with age, losing one's sense of smell entirely is unimaginable. I really don’t know how I would cope and I do sympathize greatly with those who are afflicted. Fortunately, I am able to enjoy all the smells that Springtime in beautiful Fallbrook has to offer. I am truly thankful for that, and for Herbs and Spices.
Plant some herbs in your garden, or give someone an herbal gift. May 1 is National Herb Day. Celebrate herbs!