Smell training and how essential oils can help
Loss of sense of smell has been apparent for many who have fallen victim to covid but as Dr Claire Hopkins, President of the British Rhinological Society and ENT Consultant explained in an interview on Sky News, post viral smell loss has been around for many years.
Claire explained that it typically only affected about 1 in a 100 people who suffered from a virus in the upper respiratory tract, but following the recent pandemic it has affected many more.
The good news is that smell training is a very valuable tool for people suffering from loss of a sense of smell following a viral infection. The BBC recently broadcast a short report on this that you can watch here.
A word of caution
Professor Jane Parker from the University of Reading warns that smell training is not appropriate for someone who is “in state of severe infection, where lungs and breathing capacity are compromised. Direct olfactory inhalation of essential oils is not advisable due to the risk of irritation that may further inhibit oxygen up-take within alveoli cells.”
So what is smell training?
Think of it like physiotherapy for your nasal nerves.
When we inhale a scent it is the aromatic molecules that travel up our noses and trigger nerve receptors which automatically send signals to our brain to tell us what we are smelling and how we would describe it – is it sweet, bitter, sour and so on.
It is believed that in some cases certain coronaviruses attack these nerve receptors. However, these nerves are very good at regenerating.
This can be done by attempting to activate and stimulate them through the introduction of specific strong scents and this is essentially smell training.
Which scents to use?
Smell and Taste Professor Thomas Hummel and his team formulated a way to re-train olfactory receptors after loss of the sense of smell using four distinctive odour molecules extracted from the following essential oils – rose, eucalyptus, clove and lemongrass.
Interestingly three of these four essential oils have extremely powerful anti-viral properties – all except for Rose.
However, the main reason behind choosing these four scents is that they cover the various scent or flavour categories of pungent, sweet and sour and each of these oils has a very complex scent profile.
How often should you do smell training?
All you need to do is some mindful smelling of these four scents about 2-3 times a day in order to help to stimulate your nasal receptors and regain your sense of smell.
As with every solution, it is not guaranteed to work but there has been a huge amount of success with this method following post viral scent loss.
Also, if your sense of smell has returned but isn’t as strong as it once was smell training may be able to help to further improve it.
If after a series of smell training sessions when you know your sense of smell has improved you may find that you cannot smell the oils as well as you did previously. Don’t panic.
This is because sometimes our noses can normalise regular scents so by introducing some new stronger scents in can help.
This type of nose blindness reminds me of the scents of all my products at fairs – people will say to me “oh they smell so good” and I can’t smell them from where I’m standing just because I’ve become so accustomed to their collective fragrance.
Spend a few seconds inhaling the scent through your nose and imagining what is should smell like, for example Clove oil is sweet and spicy. Take a short break and move onto another scent.
Scent is powerful!
As an Aromatherapist I’ve spent many years explaining how scent is powerful and I’m excited that new research is being undertaken to show how essential oils can help improve and bring back a sense of smell.
Remember that smelling an essential oil has the ability to affect physiological changes in your body – those scent molecules that travel up your nose contain natural chemicals that depending upon the essential oil may help you relax, may stimulate you and help you feel alert, may help balance out stress.
Also, certain essential oils can raise or lower blood pressure so always consult a qualified aromatherapist before using oils if you have a serious medical condition.
To take a look at the organic essential oils for sale click here.
Louisa Alessandra Pini
Holistic & Clinical Aromatherapist