Can Smell Therapy Help With Smell Loss After COVID-19?

Although the smell loss symptom isn’t exclusive to COVID-19, it was barely ever mentioned before the pandemic.

Over 80 percent of coronavirus patients experience anosmia or smell loss at varying levels of severity.

In fact, studies say this temporary smell loss is one of the most convincing coronavirus symptoms, compared to others, like fever and cough.

Disturbingly, several weeks or even months after all other associated symptoms of COVID-19 are over, many say they haven’t recovered their sense of smell.

What’s more, the magnitude of this impairment on the health, safety, and quality of life is truly unprecedented and makes post-COVID olfactory disorder a major public health problem. Thus, there is a pressing need to identify effective treatments.

But don’t fret! Research and anecdotal testimonies suggest "smell therapy" may restore olfactory senses and help you smell the world again.

This article reviews smell therapy, how it helps people correct COVID-19-induced smell loss, and how products like MOXĒ’s new Smell Therapy Kit Nasal Inhalers can speed up the process.

The guide discusses, in layman's terms, common questions among people who experience smell loss after COVID-19.

Let’s dig in…

How does smell work?

Loss of smell – and taste – is part of the chemical senses, also called the chemosensory.

Our smell sensitivity is powered by specialized sensory cells named olfactory neurons. These cells are stocked in a small tissue found up the roof of your nose.

olfactory neurons Can Smell Therapy Help With Smell Loss After COVID-19?

These sensory cells communicate directly with the brain.

Olfactory neurons feature odor receptors that are stimulated by microscopic molecules released by components around us, whether from brewing coffee, roasting meat, burning tobacco, etc.  

The receptor sends a message to the brain to help identify the smell.

The olfactory sensory neurons receive smell via two channels:

  • Your nostrils
  • The channel that links the throat to your nose

When you chew, the aroma from your food passes through the olfactory sensory neurons at the top of your nose.

Cold or flu can stuff your nose, block the channel, and lock out odors from reaching your sensory cells.

Such obstructions cause the typical smell loss you likely experienced when you had a cold. In this condition, even our favorite odors like chocolates and vanilla can be lost and undetectable to our senses. 

How does COVID-19 affect smell?

Being a new virus, researchers are still exploring COVID-19’s effects, including its relationship with smell loss.

Common reports say smell loss happens when the virus damages the cells that bind to the neurons in the nose.

Investigating some common COVID-19 symptoms, researchers found that the odor-identifying neurons that send signals from the nose to the olfactory receptor in the brain were infected and may give the virus access to the brain.

Sandeep Robert Datta and his research team at Harvard Medical School, Boston, revealed that sensory neuron support cells in the nose, called sustentacular cells, are actual victims of the virus.

When COVID-19 enters the body, the virus targets the ACE2 receptors on cell surfaces, mainly in the sustentacular cells.

The sensory neurons may lack nutrients and become vulnerable when infected by the virus.

How quickly does impaired smell return to normal?

 It varies from a couple of weeks, months, or even years.

A 2020 publication reports 72% of COVID-19 patients with olfactory dysfunction had their smell back intact a month after recovery. Similarly, 84% regained their taste within the same span.

After a month’s survey, Claire Hopkins, a neurobiologist, recorded similar results. The ear, nose, and throat consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital lead a research team who reported 49% full recovery, and 41% observed an improvement within one month.  

Note that the smell loss symptom may strike differently. Some people say their senses gradually trickled in after the first month with no results but experienced regular improvement over the following months.

However, at certain points in recovery, everything may suddenly begin to smell “rancid,” a phase that may linger for months. This condition is caused by the rewiring of the olfactory sensory neurons as recovery progresses.

Unfortunately, some patients remain completely odor-insensitive for months. Although researchers have yet to demystify such extensive effects, Hopkins and his team conclude that, in such cases, the virus might have destroyed the olfactory sensory nerves.

Thankfully, the nerves can be revived with smell therapy, a practice endorsed by researchers.

Interestingly, ongoing clinical trials are currently looking at the effectiveness of smell therapy for patients recovering from smell loss. 

Reviews from the smell training therapy users show the natural smell therapy is surprisingly effective and without any recorded side effects.

What is smell therapy and how it can help with smell loss after COVID-19?

Smell therapy, smell training, or olfactory training is a documented natural remedy for smell dysfunction. 

Smell therapy works by the repeated exposure to various known smells in an effort to help improve patients ability to detect scents.

Interestingly, smell therapy affordable and it can be done at the convenience of your home without any professional supervision.

The idea is proposed by studies that report repeated exposure to distinct strong odors helps restore smell while maintaining a mind-to-smell connection, such as smelling a lemon oil and thinking about drinking a lemonade and how it tasted/smelled. 

If you suffer Covid-19-induced smell loss, smell therapy may be a promising remedy.

Smell therapy entails sniffing carefully selected classes of pungent aromas twice daily over a period of months.

This smell exercise may require long-term use – sometimes for several months – before the olfactory system is fully restored.

However, if you seek a quick fix, you’d most likely be disappointed. Smell therapy requires time and effort for maximum results, but you can begin to see some improvement in the even the first week of diligent exposure.

Smell therapy can work with different families of essential oils, however, there are 4 main essential oils that researchers recommend as the most effective in smell training. 

Essential oils for smell therapy

Essential oils have been chief ingredients in traditional smell therapy. Typically, lemon, clove, rose, and eucalyptus are standard expert-recommended scents for a fast and effective smell recovery.

While these smells are relatively common, you’d be better off with a small kit, pre-infused with quality 100% essential oils:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Clove
  • Rose

You may wonder, why these specific aromas?

The smell training theory refers to the four odor categories as part of the “odor prism.” These odors are primary smell categories – just as blue, yellow, red are primary color classes.

These four primary odors, lemon, rose, eucalyptus, and clove, represent different smell families: fruity, floral, resinous, and spicy, respectively.

Researchers say if you can retrain the neurons to identify these primary odors, they’ll quickly pick up other scents.

How to use essential oils inhalers for smell therapy 

How to use essential oils for smell therapy

One exciting thing about using essential oils for smell recovery is that it’s super-easy and takes just minutes of your day. Typically, a session should be done in  two minutes or less.

For the best results, here are quick tips on how to use essential oils for smell recovery.

  • Find a calm and relaxing place to lock out distractions.
  • Open your preferred inhaler and place it near your nostrils – Don’t rush things. Inhale gently.
  • No hard sniffs – take 10 to 20 seconds on each smell. That’s about a minute or less on each training session
  • This phase needs some level of concentration – connecting the smell with your emotional memories.
  • Repeat this process twice daily – preferably mornings and evenings. You may continue, consistently, for at least 12 to 16 weeks.

You can train with other aromas, too – like your favorite colognes, flowers, spices, and anything safe to inhale. The key is to choose things you can remember the scent of pre-smell loss.

Don’t stop training – even if there don't seem to be any effects after the first few days or weeks. Although it can be heartbreaking and discouraging to continue without experiencing any notable impact, persistence is the key – every day, be expectant like ‘payday’ is a day closer.

Is it safe to smell essential oils?

Essential oils are generally suitable for all classes of users for a natural smell recovery therapy.

However, while these products are thought harmless due to their pure and natural nature, incorrect usage can negatively affect users.

For safe dosing, always refer to the product’s guidelines. The general rule forbids drinking/ingesting essential oils or administering undiluted products to the skin directly.

When ingested, essential oils can cause drowsiness and sedation. A little higher concentration may cause coma and may be particularly toxic for children and expectant mothers.

Essentially, the best way to stay safe and get the best result is using a smell kit from reputable manufacturers. You would also do well to follow the product usage guideline. This way, you should have no worries about using your essential oils to get your nose working again.

How long does it take to see the results?

Remember, there are no universal results with the smell sense restoration therapy; the effects differ across users.

Importantly, keep notes of observations as you progress – not necessarily daily, but, say, weekly or bi-weekly records may come in handy.

A reminder – The olfactory recovery process can be notably slow; a little patience is needed.

Also, remember that factors including age and existing individual health concerns influence recovery pace.

For instance, seniors are thought to have fewer olfactory neurons – cells responsible for identifying and transmitting smell information to the brain. Besides, it takes a remarkably long time to regenerate receptor neurons of older people.

Typically, smell recovery training may span months.

But, even if you have to retrain for a year, in the end, restoring your smell is priceless – it’d be worth all the time and money spent.

It’s okay if your favorite chocolates only start smelling bland or distorted after many weeks on the therapy. That’s good progress. Keep going.

Why is our sense of smell so important?

Here are six reasons you should keep your smell senses up and functional:

Smells keep memories

Ever encountered a whiff that brought back memories of a time or place?
A survey shows that while visual memories may decline to 50% after a few months, one can recollect scents after a year with as much as 65% accuracy.
Our smell senses help us connect with places, people, and things.

Emotions

Did you know smell influences your emotions? In turn, it affects our everyday behaviors. 
Researchers say the part of the human brain that reports smell and taste has close links to our emotions.

Smell and health care

From historical reports, to date, fragrances have been used to create serenity in health centers.
Lavender, for instance, is a specific preference in nursing homes and emergency rooms. Such a pleasing odor helps calm patients and tensed visitors.

Smell and productivity

Ever wondered why most office environments stay smelling fresh?
In a Japanese study, data entry operators recorded a 54% productivity boost after diffusing lemon oil across the office space.
A sweet-smelling environment reduces the chances of the typical mid-afternoon brain fog, boosting concentration and focus.

Smell and taste

Smell and taste are closely linked.Even the tastiest food can be unappealing without an aroma. If you can’t smell, you won’t experience the authentic taste of your meals.
Well, since food is an a-class essential for survival, that smell can severely affect our daily lives is a no-brainer.

Does it really matter which essential oils I use?

In most smell training studies, the authors recommend specific smells, namely, rose, lemon, eucalyptus, and clove – the same smells used in ancient times for similar concerns.

While there are no universally accepted scents to use, wouldn’t it make more sense to stick with an age-long smell-recovery solution?

How can I get essential oils for smell training?

Essential oils are available in both online and offline shops.

However, with the truckload of products on the porous market, it’s hard to tell fakes from quality.

Anyways, before you buy any product for your smell training, do your homework – check the seller’s industry reputation and see what other buyers are saying.

Where Can I Buy A Smell Therapy Kit?

To save yourself the quest work, MOXĒ Smell Therapy Kit is your bet. This innovation is pre-packed with four essential oil nasal inhalers to make your smell training sessions a breeze. Each inhaler contains the four world-standard odor prisms: clove, rose, lemon, and eucalypts.

Whether for a partial or total smell loss, this 4-in-one smell training kit helps your daily smell sense stimulation a lot more efficiently.

Final Thoughts 

Among the many COVID-19 symptoms, smell loss is probably one of the annoying. 

Even when other symptoms are gone and you begin to feel all well your sense smell may be long gone. This often goes hand in hand with taste loss.

This no-smell condition, Anosmia, has no known pharmaceutical cure. However, researchers have investigated the potentials of an ancient smell recovery therapy known as smell therapy, smell training, or olfactory training.

Research shows that smell loss after COVID-19 can be remedied with smell therapy in combination with essential oils like lemon, clove, rose and eucalyptus. 

The training works overtime. With consistency and the right scent combination, you’ll get your smell back.

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