How To Use Essential Oils to Regain Your Sense of Smell
Losing your sense of smell can be a life-changing experience. When you lose the ability to smell, you may find that foods do not taste as they used to. You also might smell things differently than other people, making it difficult for your brain to identify certain smells at all. Although this can be frustrating and inconvenient, there are ways to help retrain your sense of smell, so you don't have to live in a distorted bubble.
Smell therapy or smell training is a system that seeks to help a person relearn how to smell by using essential oils with distinct odor categories. But what are the benefits of smell training? How does it work? What is the science behind essential oil therapy for this purpose?
This blog post will answer all your questions about smell training with essential oils. We'll cover everything from what smell training is, why it can be beneficial, how to get started, what supplies you'll need, and what kind of results to expect. So, if you're looking for a way to improve your sense of smell or want to help someone who has lost their sense of smell, then read on!
What is Smell Training?
Smell training or olfactory rehabilitation is the act of regularly sniffing certain scents and aromas to help regain one's sense of smell. The stimulating smells used are often selected from major smell categories, like aromatic, floral, fruity, and resinous fragrances. In a 2017 meta-analysis, researchers designed an experimental therapy for those experiencing olfactory dysfunction like smell loss (anosmia), reduced smell (hyposmia), or distorted smell (phantosmia).1 In fact, some patients reported the therapy to be useful after post-viral infection, which can cause anosmia in some people.
History of Smell Training
The concept was first put forward by Thomas Hummel, a psychologist at the Dresden University of Technology. In his first study, Hummel advised patients with olfactory deficiency to use a twice-a-day regimen for twelve weeks.2
The routine included breathing in the scent of rose, lemon, clove, and eucalyptus essential oils for 10 seconds each. These strong scents fall into different odor categories according to Henning's odor prism.
In his original study, Hummel instructed patients with olfactory dysfunction to follow a twice-a-day routine of smelling certain odors for twelve weeks. The experimental routine includes inhaling the odor of rose, lemon, clove, and eucalyptus essential oils for ten seconds each. These intense odors each correspond to a different odor category in Henning's odor prism.
The Odor Prism was created by Johannes Henning in 1927 and describes how humans can perceive smells.3 It's a triangular graph that includes the basic categories of odors: Floral, Fruity, Resinous, Spicy.
For example, the "rose" category falls between Aromatic and Floral fragrances because it's an intense aroma that is also sweet-smelling. Lemon would be a Fruity smell as it's sweet and tangy.
Since then, the research and interest in smell training have grown exponentially. Patients with loss of smell have seen improvements in their sense of taste, ability to eat and enjoy food again. Their quality of life has also improved, which is why this treatment should be taken seriously by both patients and physicians alike.
The Science of Smell Training
The sense of smell is closely linked to the limbic system, a brain region responsible for emotion and memory. When you experience an odor, your olfactory neurons send messages through your limbic system, which triggers memories or emotions.
Lucky for us, our sense of smell including both olfactory nerve and olfactory bulb have neural plasticity. This means our olfactory cells can regenerate and be trained to distinguish lost odors. Simply the brain must re-learn how to process and interpret smell signals again by the repetitive stimulus of inhaling different odors. It is no surprise that researchers believe that smell training seems likely to achieve results.2
How To Retrain Your Sense Of Smell By Using Essential Oils At Home
What You Need
Smell training is pretty straightforward and can be done at home with the right supplies. The first thing you'll need is essential oils like Rose, Eucalyptus, Lemon, and Clove. You can also get them online if they're not available locally to you. Second, gather up four glass cups or contains to drop in the essential oils. Lastly, grab a pen and paper as you may want to record your thoughts and log your progress.
Now that you are ready to start smell training, find a calm and relaxing area to focus and be free from distractions. Once ready, prepare your four odors by placing two drops into each glass cup separately (you may want to label each cup before adding oils). Remember not to mix the oils with each other.
To start your training, place your nose over the glass cup or container and inhale each essential oil, one by one for 10-15 seconds per smell. Then move on to the next scent and repeat this process until all four scents are used.
While doing this, smell with intention and really do your best to concentrate on memories of your experience with that scent. With lemon, for example, try to recall slicing lemons or the tangy taste of a cup of lemonade.
Do this twice daily for a minimum of 12-16 weeks. Diligence is key here! Remember that smell training requires time and patience, just like muscle growth after working out. After all, the process of rewiring neural connections in your brain is no small task.
Record Your Progress
You may wish to track your progress with a log, recording days and changes in scent perception. For example, when you start your training, you may not smell Eucalyptus at all. Remember that weak odors or lack of smell during your first week of smell training is completely normal. Keep logging your process and note the day that sense of smell returns! Note that it is also helpful to acknowledge scent cues and whether or not they track with your memory of the scent.
Some Helpful Tips For Smell Training
- You'll get the best results by being consistent and practicing daily.
- Rate smell strength on a scale of 0-5 each week.
- Write down your thoughts and comments on each scent, describing your perception of it. For example, does rose smell sweet and floral as it should, or is it unrecognizable as Rose? Try to acknowledge the difference and describe it.
- Make sure you're spending enough time with each oil. It can be a challenge to concentrate on one thing at a time with no distractions, but you’ll get your best results devoting the time to each scent.
Good luck smell trainers!
If you are looking for an all-inclusive smell training kit that is quick, easy, and affordable? Consider using MOXĒ Smell Therapy Kit!
MOXĒ Smell Therapy Kit
Smell training can be hard, especially when you're not sure which oils to use.
Many people are frustrated with their smell training progress because they don't know what to do next or where to start. The problem with the majority of essential oils on the market today is that they are bottled in dark glass bottles and have an airtight lid or include a clumsy jar that is cumbersome to travel with. This makes it difficult to really experience and understand each oil's complex aromas. This can make smell training a frustrating experience for those experiencing smell loss.
MOXĒ Smell Therapy Kit is the fastest and easiest science-based smell training kit to help you regain your sense of smell. It uses an innovative approach to help you train and regenerate your olfactory nerves by stimulating with four distinct odors: Rose, Eucalyptus, Lemon, and Clove essential oils for smell loss.
The MOXĒ Smell Therapy Kit includes four ready-to-use essential oil nasal inhalers that are small, convenient, and effective at smelling training. With our smell therapy kit, there is no need to order expensive essential oil bottles or having to drop oil in a jar to start smell training.
By using our medical-grade nasal inhalers, you can avoid direct accidental nose contact with the essential oil bottle and allow high airflow through the 100% organic cotton wick inside that absorbs and releases the scent from each essential oil! This means no more guessing about how much oil you need or having to carry bottles and jars.
All of MOXĒ Smell Therapy Kits come with a custom starter guide and include a convenient smell log to record your progress over time.
How Long Does It Take To See Results?
Progress varies greatly from person to person. According to studies, many individuals see results after three months of beginning. The more time you put into it, the more likely you are to notice a difference.
For best results, you should consistently smell train twice a day for at least four months. Doing this will rewire neural connections in your brain and can take some time. Remember smell training is no small task and requires consistent exposure to maximize results.
If you notice a plateau or standstill in your sense of smell progress, you may want to introduce scent diversification. The idea behind this is to work with several different scents and allow your nose to become accustomed to them.
The Benefit of Scent Diversification: The Second Phase After Smell Therapy
So what's next after completing your smell therapy training? Well, you may want to consider switching up the odors and expand your smell training routine. Why switch odors?
Traditionally, smell training with Rose, Lemon, Clove, and Eucalyptus has been the standard, but a recent trial shows evidence that changing up the oils after the first few months to different ones that fall within the same categories of the odor prism (fruity, floral, resinous and spicy) delivers even better results.
Introducing MOXĒ Smell Therapy Phase II: Scent Diversification, where you continue your smell training by practicing with four new 100% therapeutic grade essential oils, including Lavender, Peppermint, Grapefruit, Cinnamon oils, which fall within the same categories of Odor Prism.
Researchers suggest changing the "training odors" used in smell therapy after 12 weeks of training and then continuing to use them for another 12 more may enhance success.4 Switching up these scents is thought to stimulate more and different olfactory receptors, which may help cement the odor categories in your brain and expand the scents you're able to recognize and differentiate between.
So, what have you learned about smell training? It's a powerful tool that can be used to re-train your sense of smell and help those who've lost their sense of smell. If this sounds like something you'd want to try or if someone in your life has lost their sense of smell, we're here for you.
We created the Smell Therapy Kits as an affordable way for anyone with a loss of aroma perception to get back on track! Get Your Smell Therapy Kit today. If you're looking for a way to take your smell training game up a notch, MOXĒ Smell Therapy Phase II is the perfect next step.
Get Your Smell Therapy Kit today and find out how it works by watching our video below!
- Sorokowska, A., Drechsler, E., Karwowski, M., & Hummel, T. (2017). Effects of olfactory training: a meta-analysis. Rhinology, 55(1), 17–26. https://doi.org/10.4193/Rhin16.195
- Hummel, T., Rissom, K., Reden, J., Hähner, A., Weidenbecher, M., & Hüttenbrink, K. B. (2009). Effects of olfactory training in patients with olfactory loss. The Laryngoscope, 119(3), 496–499. https://doi.org/10.1002/lary.20101
- American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Apa Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved October 29, 2021, from https://dictionary.apa.org/hennings-odor-prism.
- Altundag, A., Cayonu, M., Kayabasoglu, G., Salihoglu, M., Tekeli, H., Saglam, O., & Hummel, T. (2015). Modified olfactory training in patients with postinfectious olfactory loss. The Laryngoscope, 125(8), 1763–1766. https://doi.org/10.1002/lary.25245