Anosmia - Loss of taste and smell, Post COVID Syndrome

 25 Mar 2021

I have been researching Long Covid Symptoms this week and post recovery in terms of nutrition and other tools. One of the lingering symptoms in a report by the World Health Organisation is anosmia (loss of smell) and taste.

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Post-Covid-19 syndrome (Long Covid) is defined as “signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with Covid-19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis”.

Reference Link

Some of the lingering symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Cough, congestion, or shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache, body aches
  • Diarrhoea,
  • Nausea
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Confusion

These types of lingering symptoms can have impacts on quality of life and mental health.


Temporary loss of smell is known as anosmia. It is a neurological symptom and one of the earliest and most reported indicators of COVID-19.

Linked to smell is the sense of taste, they go hand in hand together.

A recent study found that many people recovering from COVID-19 still lack the sense of smell up to 5 months later.

(American Academy of Neurology)


Loss of smell indicates neural damage, and the recovery time is measured in months and years. It may also indicate damage to corresponding brain cells (known as the olfactory bulb) that receive sense of smell.

Imagine a scenario where you had lost that enjoyment you get from eating your favourite foods, drinking your favourite drinks, smells and tastes that remind you of home, place, person, good memories? In addition, you cannot smell if you are burning your food or in fact if food has gone off.

In other cases, people are reporting parosmia, a distorted sense of smell. Favourite foods smell bad, or distorted.

Nutrition improvements, lifestyle changes and therapy like olfactory training or smell training have been at the centre for recovery.

Smell training involves a program of resetting and retraining your brain (olfactory bulb) neurons that involve smell. The olfactory bulb is a structure located in the forebrain of vertebrates that receives neural input about smells detected by cells in the nose.

Smell training is actively sniffing the same four scents every day, spending around 20 seconds on each scent and really concentrating on what you’re doing. It is that easy. It’s safe, it’s recommended by doctors, and anyone can do it.’

Abscent Website

One aspect of this is inhaling a selected range of foods and smells and thinking about what that scent should smell like.

Based on smell test studies by Professor Thomas Hummel of the University of Dresden (2009) the four smells to begin with are the following essential oils:

  • Rose
  • Eucalyptus
  • Clove
  • Lemon

This training consists of 2 times a day intensive smelling of 4 different scents: rose, eucalyptus, lemon (lime) and clove. This is referred to as the Hummel Method.

Reference on Hummel Method


In addition, there are a variety of nutrition tips that you can incorporate which are general good nutrition tips, immunity boosters and aid illness recovery.

  • B12 foods like red meat
  • Vitamin C foods like kiwi
  • Vitamin A foods like sweet potato
  • Incorporate good quality animal and plant protein sources.
  • Omega 3 supplement or increase oily fish intake (fresh or tinned)
  • Zinc foods like dark chocolate
  • Selenium foods like 2-3 brazil nuts per day
  • Hydrate with water
  • Consume antioxidant foods like blueberries, wholegrains, and leafy greens.
  • Supplements of adaptogens like reishi mushroom (seek advice)
  • Supplements of minerals / vitamins to regain optimal levels (seek advice)



Here are some top lifestyle tips to also practice and incorporate:

  • When it comes to mealtimes create an experience (positive association). We eat with our eyes so focusing on presentation increases anticipation.
  • Stimulate saliva production using lemon juice in warm or cold water (citrus fruits help)
  • Exercise to create a calorie deficit and craving or hunger.
  • Textures like creamy (smoothie), crunchy (raw veggies), tacky (nut butter)
  • Variety & new foods, this is your change to try lots of new foods you would not have used before to stimulate the taste buds and develop new positive associations.
  • Experiment with temperature, hot and cold foods, and different cooking methods.


COVID19 recovery and treatment advice is changing each day so as much as possible the information presented is as up to date as I can get it.

I also appreciate that each person is unique and different. My advice is to be gentle with yourself, seek support and aim to incorporate 1-2 new things each week rebuilding positive associations (brain training) and making new associations to bring back these senses.


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