How to regain your sense of smell with essential oils

How to regain your sense of smell with essential oils

Our 5 senses - smell, vision, hearing, taste and touch bring the world to life for us.  So its not surprising losing one of them can leave us feeling bereft.  


Most recently, millions of people the world over have been experiencing one of the most common (and telltale) symptoms of COVID-19: the loss of their sense of smell.  


Medically known as anosmia, the loss of the sense of smell can greatly impact a persons overall well-being and has been known to increase anxiety & depression.  Thats before we consider the inherent danger it places them in with the inability to smell smoke or spoiled food.  


If youre currently experiencing anosmia and its the result of a respiratory virus such as COVID-19, there is hope.  Olfactory neurons are capable of regeneration.  Which means it could be possible for you to regain your sense of smell.


Regaining your sense of smell with olfactory training.

Olfactory training (also known as smell training) was developed in 2009 as a means to accelerate recovery and improve a persons ability to detect smells.  

The training is very straightforward and involves a daily smelling of essential oils such as lemon, eucalyptus, cloves, rose and others.  Most specialists recommend smell training as a means to reawaken the olfactory nerves.  The repeated exposure of the lining of the nose to smells encourages the nerves to recover.  


Using essential oils in olfactory training.


Essential oils are great to use for olfactory training.  They are a stable source of odour that will keep for longer periods of time.  

In fact, a 2017 clinical trial found patients who smell trained with essential oils were twice as likely to improve their sense of smell than those who did not.  


How to regain your sense of smell with essential oils


The sooner you can start your olfactory training the better, but it is known to work even for people who have experienced anosmia for around 7 months.  

Training should take place twice a day, ideally in the morning and in the evening.  Open an essential oil, such as Rose or Lemon, relax and inhale naturally for about 20-seconds.  Repeat this around 2-3 times.  Take a 5-minute break and then repeat the steps with the next essential oil.  

Continue this process daily for at least 12 weeks (although most benefit has been noted to occur around 24-weeks).  Try to stick with one set of 4 essential oils for the entire 12-week period.  Then after 12 weeks, switch to a new set of 4 different scents.  



Top tips for olfactory training:


Select smells you previously liked and are familiar with.  Although lemon, rose, eucalyptus and cloves are the common essential oils used in olfactory training, consider also peppermint, orange or lavender.  


Incorporate mindfulness into your training.  If you cannot smell the essential oil at all, try to remember the smell and engage your mind to evoke the sensation.  As part of their regeneration, olfactory nerves have to make the right connections in both the nose and brain.  As you encourage that connection through mindfulness, it improves your ability to detect the scent.


Be patient and appreciate even incremental bits of progress.  Its really important to keep going with the training, even though it might be awhile before you notice a real difference.  


Have confidence in the knowledge randomised trials have shown patients who do smell training (especially with essential oils), have much better outcomes than those who dont.  Although not a quick fix, for a small commitment of a little time and effort each day, you could see a gradual improvement.  Thats got to be worth a try, hasnt it?



Source references:


Siobhan Harris. Training Your Nose to Smell Again After COVID-19  - Medscape - Jan 12, 2021.

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