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Re-training your senses after Coronavirus

One of the common symptoms for coronavirus is loss of scent and taste, which can be exceptionally frustrating and last longer than the actual infection. Anosmia, the medical term for the loss of scent, is usually temporary and comes back. However, there are things you can do to help speed that up. In this article, we’ll go through what scent training is and how you can use essential oils to train your nose.

Scent training

To scent train, you take four scents and make them your key scents, sniffing them each for about 20 seconds and concentrating on the scent. It’s important to use scents that you are comfortable with and like. Research says it can help you recoup your scent after a bout of anosmia (1). In an interview with Abscent, cell biologist Nancy Rawson said, “Our understanding of smell training is also based on our understanding of how the brain makes new connections and reinforces existing connections. We know that using a neural pathway reinforces and strengthens that pathway. And so, not only is smell training helping the olfactory receptor cells, but it also is helping to create pathways in the brain that will be better able to receive, interpret and remember the information that it is getting,”(2).  

How essential oils can help

Essential oils are recognisable scents that you can use to begin your scent training. There was a study done by Smell and Taste Clinic at the University of Dresden in Germany that used four different essential oils and two groups of people with anosmia. One group participated in scent training with essential oils and the other did not. Both groups were tested at the beginning and the end of the twelve-week study and they found that patients who participated in the scent training experienced improvement in their olfactory function (3). While it may not bring back scent immediately, it certainly has a positive effect on the recovery of olfactory function and is worth trying. 

3 essential oils to use

Camphor is used in vapor therapy which helps to open up your airways, allowing you to breathe deeply and allows you to communicate better. It's a strong and recognisable scent that helps to open up the lungs and helps to clear nasal passages. 

Eucalyptus is a strong scent that is used to relieve coughing and it can also help you get the mucus out of your chest. Other respiratory conditions including asthma and sinusitis may be helped by inhaling steam with added eucalyptus oil. The oil reacts with mucous membranes, not only reducing mucus but helping loosen it so that you can cough it up.

Galbanum is a floral and fruity scent that is used as a decongestant and is especially efficient at clearing the blockage that is a result of bronchitis. It clears congestion within the nasal tracts, bronchi, trachea, larynx, pharynx, and lungs, making breathing easier and helping to ensure a good night of sleep when someone is suffering from a cough, cold, or bronchitis. 

Here is a guide for how to scent train from Fifth Sense (4):

  1. Hold the first jar up to your nose, about an inch away – the order in which you smell the oils does not matter. 
  1. Relax and slowly and gently, inhale naturally – sniffing too quickly and deeply is likely to result in you not being able to detect anything
  1. Repeat 2 or 3 more times, then rest for five minutes
  1. Move on to the next smell and repeat as above.
  1. When you have finished, ensure the jar is screwed tightly shut.


Written by:
Jemma Morgan

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