You probably don’t give a lot of thought to your olfactory senses day to day, but imagine suddenly losing your ability to taste and enjoy your food. To no longer be able to smell freshly cut grass, delicious cookies baking, or taste fresh blueberries. Smell and taste are senses we take for granted– until they’re gone. I’ve been through this devastating loss and was successfully able to overcome it.
I have spent hours researching how to overcome anosmia (the inability to taste or smell anything) and hyposmia (partial loss of taste and smell). There are few studies and no real cure. But I found a way to help my body heal after suffering from post-viral hyposmia for months. Now I want to share my experience with hyposmia and anosmia in hopes that it will help anyone out there looking to overcome these conditions.
Hyposmia: My Story
Spring 2017 was a very stressful time for me (note this was pre-Covid). My mother had just died, and I found myself back and forth between California and Arizona taking care of her and then her estate. I was admittedly not taking very good care of myself at this time and came down with a bad cold (which I’m usually able to ward off with herbs and self care).
The cold hit me pretty hard, and with my clogged sinuses I soon lost my ability to taste or smell anything, as sometimes happens when one gets a cold. I tried to push through it, but after a week I felt really bad and stayed in bed a few days. The cold lingered, and I slowly recovered, but I never recovered my sense of smell and taste. I waited patiently until about two weeks had passed and I realized I still couldn’t taste or smell anything– at all.
I contacted my naturopath, who assured me my senses would return. After a few more days, I was catching whiffs of things here and there, but I still couldn’t taste anything. After about a month of no improvement, I went to see an otolaryngologist. There I learned I had postviral hyposmia, the partial loss of taste or smell, caused by an upper respiratory infection where the virus had attacked and killed the olfactory nerves in my nose (who knew they were so delicate?). There was nothing else wrong, no nasal polyps or any other abnormalities. I was told these senses would likely return, probably not 100 percent, and maybe not at all. Damaged olfactory nerve cells can regenerate, but they don’t always reconnect properly in the brain.
I was devastated but optimistic and immediately poured myself into research. I had never heard of this condition and didn’t even know it could happen. Turns out there isn’t much out there on anosmia or hyposmia and even less about how to treat it. There isn’t a cure. There have been very few studies on the prognosis of postviral olfactory dysfunction.
It may be underreported, but it’s thought that olfactory impairment affects approximately one-fifth of the general population, with the highest prevalence observed in older men, especially in individuals who suffer from degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease (hyposmia and anosmia, when not viral in nature, are actually a harbinger of Alzheimer’s and dementia). Frighteningly enough, olfactory dysfunction predicts a 5 year mortality rate in older adults (source).
Apart from degenerative diseases, the most common causes of olfaction loss are the following:
- postviral upper respiratory infection (URI), which is what I had
- nasal/sinus disease
- head trauma/injury, which cuts or damages the olfactory nerve
- brain tumors
- exposure to toxins/drugs
- certain meds
- congenital anosmia
- edited to include COVID-19 as of 2019
Postviral URI is probably the most common cause of olfactory dysfunction observed in ear, nose, and throat clinics (source).
I read story after story online about people who, like me, were totally fine until they got a cold that completely wiped out their ability to taste or smell. Most people, also like me, had no idea this could even happen. Medications such as steroids and antihistamines may be used to calm the inflammation, but nothing was a sure thing. The prognosis is grim: Full recovery rate is 31.7%, but 80 percent of people achieve some recovery within a year (source).
I learned quickly that hyposmia is a safety issue. I had lost the ability to determine if food was fresh by smelling it. I wasn’t able to smell gas that could signal a gas leak. When the dog got sprayed by a skunk, I had no idea until family alerted me that my house and dog reeked of skunk.
What followed was depression, not uncommon in hyposmia sufferers. I was no longer interested in food, nor did I want to cook for people, one of my main joys in life, since I couldn’t taste to correct flavors and seasonings. I spent a lot of time in bed.
Meantime, I also poured over as much info as I could on how to help my body heal. Could olfactory nerves regenerate? Yes, there is evidence they do. With that logic, I researched herbs and supplements to support nerve health and regrowth. I came across a couple studies weakly identifying gingko and alpha lipoic acid as supplements to help hyposmia. I was also doing a lot of immune support.
How I Beat Hyposmia
It took me about four months to regain 90 percent of my ability to taste and smell. The supplements definitely helped (I saw noticeable improvement quickly after starting the protocol), but many people spontaneously recover their senses within six months to a year.
Here’s what I did:
Note: do this protocol for 3-5 months, then reassess. Most herbs are not meant for longterm use and will stop working after a few months.
- Took ginkgo biloba, 3 of these capsules daily. Studies show it helps.
- Took 600-900mg of alpha lipoic acid. Again, studies show it helps, probably because of its antioxidant and nerve regenerative properties.
- Took 60mg of zinc. This is an interesting one. Zinc deficiency correlates with loss of taste, so that’s a no brainer. I thought there was no way I could be deficient in zinc because I take 30 mg daily as part of a multi. But my naturopath told me a severe cold really wipes out your zinc stores. I think the zinc made the biggest difference.
- Added black seed oil because it’s pretty much a cure-all, and I wanted a potent anti-inflammatory.
- Took 1 gram of lion’s mane. I was super impressed with my research on this medicinal mushroom. It encourages nerve regeneration and growth, which is exactly what I needed. It’s also great for brain health and memory. I could tell a difference in cognition taking it.
- I did acupuncture. There is some evidence it helps hyposmia, and it did help me. Interestingly, though, it helped a lot the 24 hours after the treatment, then I’d go back to where I was.
- I got lots of sleep and did basic immune support stuff.
- Smell training, which teaches the brain to recognize smells as nerves are growing.
Interestingly, researchers have found that drinking 2 strong cups of coffee per day may help you recover your sense of taste. There isn’t a lot of research on this, but the study is in this video around 19.30. I didn’t do this, but it could be worth a try.
Here’s what happened:
I noticed great results with acupuncture, but as mentioned, they only lasted for a limited time after the treatment. I did three treatments. I joked that I would eat everything I missed during those 24 hours. The first improvement I noticed after adding the supplements was in my ability to smell most things. Then I could taste the first bite of something but nothing after that (known as taste extinction).
I think the zinc made the biggest difference, followed by the lion’s mane. I noticed the biggest shift after I added zinc. It happened slowly; it’s not like I just woke up one morning and could taste everything. I started to notice after three months or so that I could taste more than just the first bite of something. But then I would regress and have what I called “flares” where I’d go days not being able to taste anything again.
After about four months, I could pretty much taste and smell everything and no longer had the flares. Some smells were super distorted at this stage, and I still couldn’t really smell certain things, like poop. Although at 4-5 months, I wasn’t as good as new, but I was elated to have recovered as much of my smell and taste as I had (see epilogue below for more current status).
But most of all, this experience reminded me of the power in our body’s ability to heal if we provide it with the nutrients and boosts it needs. Hyposmia is such an unusual condition, but I discovered many people suffer with it, and there is a sad lack of info about how to treat it. I hope this post helps someone else out there.
Epilogue: One Year Later & Beyond
I wanted to update you on my success, which continues to date without any setbacks, after one year. I did the protocol for about 4 months and then stayed on zinc and ALA a bit longer. I still use Lion’s Mane occasionally, mostly for its aid in cognition! My sense of taste was fully restored after 6 months.
Sometimes I think I can smell even better than I could before, BUT the smell of urine is still distorted, oddly. Everything else is normal, and as I said (it bears repeating), I am pretty sure my sense of smell is improved over what it was prior to my illness and resulting hyposmia. I still do get the phantom smoke smell occasionally but rarely. I remain pretty amazed that I had such success from this protocol. I’m very thankful and reminded that our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal when given the right tools.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.
Good information but isn’t a high percentage of hyposmia age related? Did any of your research relate to that regarding the supplements you listed? Also, I have a vague recollection that zinc overload can be bad for you. Care to comment?
Hi Bill, you’re right, hyposmia and anosmia can be age related, but as I mention in the post, it can also be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s (I linked to the study). I’m mostly discussing post-viral hyposmia. It is of course possible to get too much zinc over time, but that’s not very common. Deficiency is MUCH more common, and as I mention in the article, an illness can wipe our your body’s zinc stores, and supplementation is necessary to replenish. It’s not meant for long term.
About 10 years ago after a particularly difficult upper respiratory illness, I experienced anosmia and was not able to taste Thanksgiving dinner that year. I can certainly understand how depression would result with ongoing symptoms. Thankfully my body gradually healed.
My sympathy to you regarding the loss of your Mom and now as you continue to grieve and move on to life without her. My Mom passed away in July 2017. Even when I was aware of the importance of taking care of myself – it was hard to deal with her terminal illness and death, traveling, eating healthy on the road, and keeping up with everyday life.
Life is very fragile. Just when we think we are strong, we find out that we are one or two steps away from weakness.
Thanks for your comment, Kristin. Glad you were able to recover. Definitely one of the worst things I’ve experienced in my life.
Thank you so much for sharing. It is so difficult to find useful information on this mostly unknown and ignored condition. I have had anosmia for almost 4 years now. My previous doctor didn’t want to refer me to an ENT specialist so I suffered in silence hoping that my smell may come back and that I didn’t have a tumour! Having moved doctors I have now been referred. Luckily my mri came back clear, but the only suggestion I have received is to try a steroid to kickstart my olfactory nerves. I don’t see this as a permanent solution due to the side effects and day 5 in I have not noticed any improvement in smell. I am going to try your suggestions. Fingers crossed it works!
Please report back, Danielle! Sending you healing vibes. Definitely do at least 30 (and more like 60 mg for the first month) of zinc daily. Zinc deficiency can be a cause of anosmia. Believe me, I know exactly how you feel. I’m glad you found my article.
I am so thankful to find this post Mary! There is so little info out there about this condition. I too had a bad cold just before Christmas this year and now have lost my sense of taste. I was very sick for 2 weeks (major sinus issues, cough but no fever.) At one point during the ‘cold’ I lost my sense of smell for about 3-4 days but thought that was normal when so congested. I am pretty sure it turned into a sinus infection as I had a headache and facial pain along with it. I am not one to struggle with sinus issues, this is probably the second time I can remember feeling that way. I went to see the doctor 9 days into the cold and she said I had a viral infection. She gave me antibiotics but said it should clear on it’s own. It did so I didn’t take the antibiotics. 4 days later I was better. I could smell and taste. I remember eating Godiva chocolate cheesecake on Christmas Day and loving it. After a week of being ‘better’ (on New Year’s Day) I noticed I couldn’t taste my soup at lunch and have not had a sense of ‘flavor’ since. I can smell quite well but can’t seem to taste anything. I get hints of sweet, salt, bitter, sour and I think from my sense of smell get a hint of what I am eating. The taste in my mouth is always like a diluted salt water, even when I drink water. I sometimes get very sour and bitter tastes too. Most things taste like cardboard in my mouth. It is all very unsettling and upsetting!
My doctor said that this is not uncommon after having suffered a URI (so it seems this is linked to my upper respiratory infection). She said to give it 1-2 weeks and it should be fine. It is 3 weeks later now. I checked back in with the doc after 10 days, freaking out. My regular doc was out of the office so I consulted with someone new – he said that the issue must be with my nose and not the tongue/mouth as taste and smell come from the same olfactory place and smell is key to taste. He said I need to ‘work on my nose’, that the infection may have cleared from my main nasal passageways but not the smaller ones which can impact taste. I have now been on a regimen of a saline nasal rinse 3x/day and Flonase 2x/day for about 6 days. I also decided to also take the 5 day Z-pack antibiotic in case there is remnants of bacterial infection, today is my last day and no changes so far.
My doctor has also ordered a blood test to look at my Vitamin B and Zinc levels as apparently deficiencies of these vitamins can lead to a loss of taste. My levels came back normal for both vitamins. Everyone seems totally STUMPED by this…especially that I have my sense of smell but not taste. My doc admitted she had never had someone come to her with quite this issue. I think my sense of smell must be impacted by this but I can’t tell how much…I have always had a great sense of smell but it seems unlikely that it would be an issue solely with taste. I also have two kids under 5 still waking up throughout the night, work full time and have a house remodel going on right now. I have known my immune system has been dragging in the gutter for some months because of the current state of my life (lots of wonderful, positive things but all are a heavy load to carry).
Per this post, I am going to add some supplements to my regime. I bought some Alpha Lipoic Acid in a 600mg which I will take and will pick up some additional zinc to boost my Immune support supplement. Any support you can offer Mary would be amazing. This is so depressing, I am a healthy 37 year old Mom 🙁 🙁 🙁
I understand your frustration, Danielle. I would recommend everything I mention in the protocol of the post– the lion’s mane (heals nerve damage), the gingko, the ALA, etc, and especially the zinc. And work on building immune health. Best wishes to you! My smell and taste is almost completely restored, but it took 3-4 months, so don’t give up hope.
Mary, are you still taking the vitamins to help with your situation? And if so how long now have you been on them? I just ordered all the vitamins you suggested, I’m currently going through loss of smell/taste, after having the flu in June 2017. I don’t want to over due it but I do need to hopefully find a cure even if it’s slight.
Cindy, no, I’m not currently doing any support for hyposmia any longer. I did the protocol for 3-4 months until I recovered. Now I’d say I’m at nearly 100%, but it took over 4 months.
Thank you so much for posting your story. You are correct there is not much helpful information on the web. Your story was the only story that gives me some hope. I have never posted before this is my “pay it forward” opportunity.
My story is the same in regards to how it happened even the loss of my parent. I like you have been diligent about nutrition over many years. I’m angry this has happen due to the fact I spend so much time and money making sure I’m healthy.
That being said I’m only 4 weeks into my journey. I had an encouraging visit to my Chiropractor who said my scull was out of alignment. Once adjusted 50% of my taste and smell came back only to leave in a few hours. He recommended I complement his work and give Acupuncture a few sessions.
I strongly feel this is a “energy” imbalance. My Naturopath has muscle tested me for a NES Infoceutical product which will focus on balancing my Immune System. I’m also looking into the “Bemer” Therapy which balances energies. This may sound rather strange to most yet Energy Medicine has been used for years for pain reduction and overall balance.
I have a hard time believing my body is that delicate that it would not only destroy my own cells but not regenerate new cells. The body is so powerful.
Again thank you for your story as it has given me more information to travel my journey of health.
Thanks for your comment, Melissa. I think no doubt it has to do with a compromised immune system. Interesting you had that experience with chiropractic… i had the same with acupuncture. The lion’s mane was truly phenomenal. Best wishes to you.
Thank you so much for this post! I lost my smell/taste, post concussion/head trauma. The loss of taste happened gradually as I remember being able to taste fine when I was at home recovering, immediately after the accident. However about 2-3 weeks later as I was becoming much more functional, and even going to work, I noticed my taste was disappearing! Also different than what you experienced, I have a constant burnt/sweet smell in my nose and everything tastes like this as well. I have researched a bit and it seems as though it is along the lines of Phantosmia, do you know anything more about this? I am honestly just trying to be patient, before going to the doctor, as I have missed too much work as is, and the bills have started coming from all the concussion mess 😐 however I have started taking the supplements that you recommended!! As I mentioned, I am just trying to be patient, as it has only been a week or so that I have been consistently taking the supplements. I was just wondering if you also experienced any of the “phantom” smells and had any insight. Thank you again for your post!! As I think many of these supplements are just good for me recovering from the head trauma as well.
Hi Mariam, I did experience phantom smells as well…. mostly the smell of cigarette smoke, which is not uncommon (also not pleasant). I sometimes still get that even. It comes and goes. The cause in your case is nerve damage, so for head trauma, the lion’s mane especially and the gingko and alpha lipoic acid will all help nerve regeneration. best wishes!
Thank for this valuable post! I’ve always had a very keen sense of smell. I’ve had a chronic sinus condition for the last four months and have just noticed that my sense of smell is diminished – not gone but noticeably less.
I’m going to try your regimen. I have been taking ginkgo, alpha lipoic and zinc for years but not the quantity of zinc. How big are your ginkgo doses?
I just read about Theophylline nasal spray for hyposmia and anosmia. Do you have any thoughts about it? Thanks again for sharing all your research!
Yes, definitely beef on up zinc, which gets quickly depleted with chronic infection in the body. That can make a huge diff. For the gingko, I took 2 of the Gaia capsules per day. I’ve not researched the Theophylline. Glad you found the post helpful!
Hello! I am so excited I came across this article. I have been diagnosed with the same thing after a cold about three months ago. I have the ability to smell but no taste! I am going to start on this regiment and hope that it helps! How much black seed oil did you use? I didn’t see an amount on that. I am starting the zinc today and will get the rest of the items this week. Thanks for your helpful information.
Hi Jennifer, I hope the info helps! I did black seed oil 1 tsp twice daily. Please report back and let us know your progress!
Thanks for the valuable article.i cannot taste anything after taking lefloxazin 500mg and zeos(loratadine 10)mg for 8 days. I accidentally took leflox for the 8 th day . From the 7 th day I ate a kind of Indian spice goraka with cooked fish (goraka is a very sour ingredient) but I didn’t know actually it was with that spice.anyway after eating it I felt I can’t taste anything.then I started eating rice gruel with vegetables ,fish or meat .but it’s so hard.i cannot eat properly .and then after a month I caught a cold .oh then I knock down more .i took clarizromycin for only 6 days .couldn’t continue and stopped it .I have burning sensation in my tongue.sometimes sides pain on my tongue.there are some white thick court on my tongue.oh can’t understand .whats wrong with me.but I have chronic sinusitis .but it’s not harm me at all.once I went to the dentist he mistreated me .that was the start.thank you.
Thank you so much for the article. I had a virus on 27 December 2017. I have no sense of smell and limited taste. I can taste pickled onions and chocolate ice cream. If there is a smell in the air for example bbq my brain interprets it as a biscuity smell. I also have the same taste in my mouth. The specialist told me recently that the senses may never come back. I had lost hope until I read your article. I find it hard that when you tell friends about it nobody seems interested. It has such a huge impact on your life. I will let you know how I get on. Take care x
Hope this helps you, Angela. I felt the same (hopeless), but this worked for me finally! I had phantom smells too, like the constant smell of smoke. It went away eventually.
I have a little different situation that has affected my taste. I went through 4 rounds of chemo (the minimum) in Nov 2016 and lost my taste which is common. What’s NOT common is that it hasn’t come back. My oncologist said I was her “first to have this happen to”, and sent me to an ENT last week who ruled out polyps via a sinus scope. I can smell, but not taste. I have researched this for HOURS and HOURS the past year and have come up with nothing. Hoping this helps. I did the alpha lipoid acid as well as the since but curious to try the other things mentioned.
Pamela, make sure to take the zinc supplement foremost. What you’re describing can indicate zinc deficiency. Zinc is critical for taste and also a very necessary immune builder if you’re fighting cancer. Also see this post: https://www.maryvancenc.com/holistic-cancer-prevention/
Let us know how you’re feeling!
Hi! Did you ever regain 100% of your senses? I can smell things right under my nose and only taste first bite! Can’t smell poop either! Did that ever come back for you? I know it’s a weird question
The ent thinks it’s allergies and has me using Flonase! I don’t notice anything! I am going to get zinc!
Hey Jenn, the exact same thing happened to me. I could only taste the first bite of anything, and oddly enough poop (and urine also) hasn’t smelled the same to me since. Very strange, but I have regained probably 98% of my smell and taste otherwise. It took about 4-5 months to recover.
Thank you SO much, Mary. This is all extremely helpful to know.
Got the flu in Dec. 2017 and that’s when the taste/smell loss occurred. Took Flonase. Nothing. Went to my Chinese Dr., drank the prescribed teas and in one week, noticed a “burst” of flavor. Heaven! Stayed on the teas but it plateaued after a month. Did acupuncture — 7 treatments, taste ebbed and flowed. Then SonicWars30 — homeopathic, did that for 3 months with varying results.
Summary: Have about 35% of my taste/smell. Some days better than others. So will definitely try everything you suggested.
Q: Doesn’t zinc have to be supplemented with copper, since zinc may deplete copper if over-dosed? (Oddly enough, I have a craving for raw oysters — high in zinc!)
Q: Are you on any kind of a maintenance regimen?
Hey Laura, that’s an excellent Q about zinc. Yes, if taken long term it does need to be balanced with copper. I take chlorophyll which has copper in it, so I don’t worry too much about it, and copper is only needed in minuscule amounts. It’s also pretty abundant in our food supply. It’s more common to have too much copper & not enough zinc. And no, I’m not on a maintenance plan (don’t really need it), but I do keep up with the zinc.
I believe my situation is identical to what you went thru. I have partial taste but very limited and I am going to follow your idea of zinc for now. I also like some of your other ideas, good job, I will keep you posted.
Mary, your response was also very heartening. Thank you for that and for giving us all hope!
Mary, are all of these supplements safe to take together? I don’t want to have any reactions…I also take a small dose of lexapro… how many months did you take the supplements for and you took them everyday? At the same time? Morning? Night?
Jenn, yes, they’re all safe to take together. I don’t know about lexapro; you’d have to ask your doctor or research it. And yes, you have to take them every day. It took 3-4 months.
Do you still take them all? I would be afraid to stop them if they helped that it would come back again…how long have you not taken them for?
Jenn, if you have hyposmia due to nerve damage, which is what I had, when the nerves heal, you’re good. They’re no longer damaged. I can’t speak for other causes.
Hi Mary….I’m so grateful for this post. As others have said, there is so little information on this on the web. And the experience is so distressing that finding your story and protocol gave me hope.
My situation: 1 week ago I got sick with a very bad cold/infection (chest/head cold, bad cough). About day 4 of the illness, when it just seemed to be peaking, my senses of smell and taste completely vanished. I saw the doctor a day after this but don’t think I stressed the complete loss enough (and was there to check about my lungs as I was quite short of breath).
Anyway, missed my opportunity to get a referral to an ENT so started madly researching on my own and found your article.
Can you tell me when you started your protocol? My plan is to start today while I’m still recovering. I was just curious if you thought it would be better to wait to see if it returns or to get started ASAP.
Thanks so much, Mary.
Hi Sandra, I started this a couple months after I’d been struggling with no improvement in sight. I saw very fast results and almost complete reversal within a month or 2. I was also taking very good care of myself otherwise: getting enough sleep, eating well (as usual) supporting immune health, etc. No harm in getting started ASAP. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
I am grateful I happened upon your post while researching black seed oil. My father passed away last October. My family was still reeling from the devastating loss of my brother from suicide in 2016. I have had 3 surgeries in the past year so I think all the above info explains the stress my body has been under both physically & mentally. I caught what I thought was a cold in May & after 8 days decided to see a Dr because I was getting worse. Was given antibiotics & steroids which I took. About the 3rd day of the meds I noticed my sense of smell & taste were gone. I attributed it to the sinus infection & just assumed it would get better when I got better. Wrong! It’s still not better. Normally my sense of smell is very, very acute. I know it’s only been 2 months but I would like to be able to smell & taste again. I will definitely try your protocol. Thanks for posting this info.
I’ve lost my sense of taste since January of this year. In my 7 mo. without it and I’m so down about it. No one seems to understand. I really enjoyed food and drink and my doctor says there’s nothing else he can do. They guess a virus caused it, but I’m wondering if it was the use of Flonase. I have months where I taste nothing, some where everything tastes metallic, others where everything tastes like chemicals and sometimes I just taste one ingredient in something–like I bite a peanut butter cookie and only taste flour or have hummus and only taste garlic. Not one thing has tasted as it should or good in 7 mo. I started taking zinc a month ago and will supplement with some of the things I see here. Brain tumors, swelling and polyps have been ruled out. My doctor is no help. I’m trying to get him to prescribe Theophylline. He hasn’t heard of it, so is looking into it. Has anyone had success with it? Unlike everyone else, I’ve gained 20 lbs. since I’ve gotten this–eating more, trying to regain my sense of satisfaction. No one gets that either!
Jennifer. I also experience the chemical taste. I’m seven months in from losing my sense of smell and taste. I am heartbroken at losing these senses and having the weird chemical taste and smell. I’m guessing it’s my brain trying to fathom out what the taste is and it is distorted. I had a virus in December. I am taking zinc and other things recommended. I am glad I am not alone. XX
Hi, i lost my sense of smell and taste six months ago. Unfortunatelly i never feel hungry or thirsty since i lost my senses. It is very hard to live with it. I did MRI of head and everything seems fine.Please if someone have similar symptoms let me know is there a hope. I will try with Your method. Thanks
Thank you for the post. I have been very frustrated about my sudden loss of smell and taste. Being a “foodie” it is very heart breaking. I tell the family I just eat to survive now since there is nothing else there. Mine started late July I had a sinus infection. So, went to the Dr and he put me on antibiotics, sinus spray, and sinus pills to dry up the moisture. Everyday I was hoping I would start to smell and taste….unfortunately, nothing 🙁 So, I finally made an appointment with an ENT. He looked up my nose, asked several questions and determined that the tissue around the nerves going to the brain may be swollen from the past infection and he put me on Prednisone to shrink the swelling. I have a follow up appt next week with him as that treatment still has not cured me either. After reading your article a light bulb went off and I believe I may have suffered the same thing you did with the nerves being damaged or destroyed. I am going to try everything you suggested in hopes that it will come back soon. You really do not know what it is like not to be able to taste and smell until it is gone. I am grateful for your article! Thank you for posting it!!
Thanks for your comment, Theresa. Please stay in touch and let me know how it goes.
Thank you so much for this post. I’m on the same journey. My story is quite similar yours, a year ago, loss of a parent and a lot of stress . Pneumonia in September 2017. Hysterectomy last Mars. Then viral infection in June with a pneumonia again as a result. After that a total loss of smell and taste. Two months later I could smell some things, others totally out. Starting my own research for cure after a visit to a ENT who informed me that the prognosis was poor. Then I found your post and decided to follow your advices, I had nothing to loose. I started to take Ginkgo Bilopa, Alpha lipoid acid, Zink and vitamin B12 and D and started smell training. Couldn’t get the other stuff (I live in Iceland ). After about 2 weeks I found my smell improving, no change in taste. Then I tried acupuncture and after the first session I could taste something but it lasted only for 24 hours. After the next session I got parosmia, smelling smoked, fat meat in my nose constantly but my taste improved. Now I’m slowly improving. Can smell almost everything (except urin and poop, onion and garlic) getting better for every day now although I still feel abnormal smell for some things (coffee and meat). So now I’m very optimistic that I will regain normal smell and taste. This post really helped, thank you so much!
Halldora, your story does sound remarkably similar to mine. Keep at it! Now, one year later, I’m fully recovered, with the exception of a few quirks. I think the zinc and ALA helped the most.
I just came across your post while looking into alpha lipoic acid for anosmia. I have suffered for five years. Mine is a similar story – lost taste and smell after bad cold; however, the ENT also found polyps. I followed the medical protocol using intranasal sprays and drops, antihistamines, to no avail then oral steroids which did not help followed by steroid injection which also brought me no smell or taste. A course of antibiotics was the final prescription. (Tried homeopathy but didn’t stick strictly to the recommendations). Last medical option was surgery, which I really did not want to do but I was desperate. And it was a complete failure. After seeing yet another ENT who wanted to put me on a horrific cocktail of the meds that didn’t help at all individually, followed by a more aggressive surgery, I walked out the door and began my own journey of healing. I continued my nasal rinses adding in oregano oil and colloidal silver. I took bromelain and quercetin, vitamin D and K, vitamin C, olive leaf extract, listened to Rife frequencies for sinusitis, used a NILI light – within a month and a half I was back to 100%…after four years of anosmia! I was sooo grateful to be able to smell the fragrance of flowers and taste food which is so important to me as one who loves to cook and is a total foodie. I was PROUD of myself for having found the solution. Sadly, although I was in glorious bliss for five months from March through August, hesitantly thinking I had put this nightmare behind me….but now I am back to zero taste or smell. It is so frustrating and I get so sad, but I won’t give up. I’m back on my regimen and adding the alpha lipoic acid in too. Will also get zinc and gingko biloba. Looking into intranasal vitamin A for regeneration as well. Thank you for your post. I hope you stay well.
Thank you so much for this information. Your story sounds a lot like mine with the stressors of caregiving to my mom with dementia and now anosmia. I lost my smell and taste post viral cold/infection back in the beginning of July 2018. I’m really struggling since the ENT wouldn’t even offer any type of treatment except to recommend smell retraining with essential oils. I did the “smell test” in the ENT office and got 15 out of 40 smells and to be honest I think I truly only smelled 3 the other 12 were guesses because there was no option for not smelling anything. It is very depressing and I too love to cook and eat great food. I just started the acupuncture route and am hopeful that it will be successful. I am definitely going to try your regimen and continue to stay hopeful that my smell and taste will return.
Thanks for sharing, Dorene. Keep us posted!
Hi Mary it has been 2 years since I have lost my taste and smell after having a cold I found your article and I have been doing your regime for 1 month every once in a while I can smell can smell bleach or a strong air freshener but that is about all you say it can take up to 4 plus months is there anything else you can suggest I am so grateful that I found your post hopefully I will make a full recovery as well
Hi Sherianne, glad you’re improving. my only other suggestion if you’re doing the protocol (esp lion’s mane, ALA, zinc) is to support your immune system (good sleep, reduce stress), and maybe try acupuncture. you’re basically asking your body to regrow/repair damaged nerves, which takes time. Best wishes. Let me know how it goes!
Hello, Ms. Mary, first of all I want to thank you for sharing your journey and creating this protocol. I’ve been scouring the internet for a solution to my postviral hyposmia. Late April of this year I became sick with a regular cold and was stressed out studying for my finals in college. My sense of smell was diminished, and I was hoping it would come back after a couple of weeks.. but it did not. I started to become alarmed and scheduled an appointment with an ENT. My physician had placed me on steroids, antibiotics, and even nasal steroids/vitamins with no avail. My physician told me in October that my sense of smell might be gone permanently. I felt very discouraged and hopeless after months and months of staying positive and hopeful. After reading about your story, I began to feel hope well up inside me. So thank you, thank you so much for sharing and creating this protocol!!
I am hoping that you read my comment and reply because I have a couple of questions. (FYI, I am a 22 year old male)
Question 1: By “basic immune support”, does that mean taking Vitamin C or probiotics? Or does that just mean eating/sleeping properly?
Question 2: Do you think I still have hope to recover even though it’s been 7-8 months if I start the protocol ASAP?
Question 3: In terms of smell training, is it just smelling different objects to help with retraining your sense of smell?
If you could help provide some insight to my questions, I would really appreciate it!
Hey Marc, glad you stumbled upon this article. There really is a lack of info about post-viral hyposmia out there. To answer your questions (make sure you are clicking the links in this article, which will answer most of your questions): by basic immune support, I mean self care, getting 8 hours sleep, immune boosting foods and nutrients: https://www.maryvancenc.com/boost-immune-health/ (this is linked in the post)
Yes, you can recover. No guarantees, but your body can regrow the nerve bundle that gets damaged by a virus. The Lion’s Mane and ALA really help with that.
Re smell training, click the link in the post for more info. Yes, it’s basically smelling lemons, cinnamon, peppermint etc (I used essential oils) and thinking of the smell to build the association, e.g. making sure the nerves reconnect properly. Good luck and please check back in to let us know how it goes.
I’m so pleased to find your posting. I had a horrible virus in early November 2018 which gave me laryngitis. A few weeks later I noticed that from time to time food tasted bland. A month after I had no sense of taste at all just an odd tin taste in my mouth. I saw my GP who gave me a steroid nasal spray which gave me a wracking cough and acne so I stopped that and used a saline spray. I have been hunting through the internet for herbal treatments and you cannot believe how happy I was to read of your success. Some mornings I have a good sense of taste for a very short period of time. Other mornings nothing at all. I can smell and taste lemon so it’s lemon in hotwater for me might make lemon curd. My sense of smell is still there. It’s the most miserable thing to happen as my favorite thing is to cook and read cookery books.
I’m now taking the Gingko and will find Lions Mane tomorrow, already taking zinc and echinacea and hoping for the best.
I have been suffering from anosmia for almost six years. According to your research, what has been healed after such a long period?
Mary, I also lost my sense of smell and taste after a viral infection in April 2018. I spent 2 months with zero ability to taste until I came across your post. I followed your regimen after taking Prednisone for 5 days. I started to regain some sense of taste after a month, maybe 10 to 20 %. Was very excited to at least have some sensual pleasure back. It plateaued a
There for a another 2months, but I discovered I could taste peanut butter and strawberries completely. one of the quirks of this affliction, I guess. I have had further improvement in the last couple of months; probably 50% total now. I tried acupuncture with very little success. For some reason I believe your acupuncturist was in the Phoenix area. I am in Phoenix for the month of February. Is it possible to get a referral name from you? Your post was a godsend. I sincerely hope that it is beneficial for all the people that have responded to your post
Hi David, I was in San Francisco at that time. My acupuncturist is in California. You could try https://re-findhealth.com/ which is a database to find holistic health practitioners.
I went to an ENT because of sinus problems, he used a scope and I’m pretty sure he scrapped the inside of my nose which was already dry from the heater. I got a staph infection and was put on Bactrim. I am no longer in the antibiotic.My question is can the staph infection or Bactrim deplete Zinc?
Yes, any infection can greatly decrease zinc stores in the body. Also check out black seed oil for staph infections: https://www.maryvancenc.com/is-black-seed-oil-a-cure-all/
When you take black seed oil orally does that work on staph in the sinuses? Also do you know anything about colloidal silver?
Yes Janet, it is effective for infections when taken orally. Colloidal silver: https://www.maryvancenc.com/colloidal-silver-no-it-wont-turn-you-blue-yes-it-can-prevent-illness/
Ok, thank you for all the information that you have provided. It is a blessing.
I have another question, is there a certain brand of zinc that you used? I bought some spring valley brand but not sure that’s really the best since it was in the grocery store.
And how do you know if your getting too much zinc? Thanks for your patience.
Janet, the zinc I recommend is linked in the post (click the underlined link). Zinc toxicity is rare, but you don’t need to be on an elevated dose (more than 40g per day) for longer than 3 months or so.
Janet again. I don’t understand this sinus I now have a diptheroid infection in the sinuses and the doctor is telling me to use antibiotics again. I have not started on the zinc because I wanted to take the ones you recommended also I had to get the black seed oil from another source. I really don’t want to use antibiotics I have already used to many. Will the oil work on this infection?
Could you possibly tell me what brands you used for the vitamins?
Thank you for all of the information!!
Hi Laura, everything I used is linked in the post (you can click on the underlined links)
I have had anosmia that moved into hyposmia for two weeks now. I have an appointment with my primary care doc tomorrow and hoping he will put me on an antibiotic.
Any idea which he should put me on?
Also, I thoughtbive tesd on my anosmic support groups that ZINC can actually CAUSE anosmia. Is this true?
Hi Wendy, antibiotics will not help anosmia unless you still have a lingering bacterial infection. And no, zinc taken internally will not cause anosmia. You might be thinking of certain nasal sprays containing zinc that may be harmful to the nose.
I have been dealing with hyposmia for a little over a month now. I have been taking zinc and alpha lipoic acid which both seem to helping. The ENT hasn’t been much help. He basically said, “Nothing I can do for you, hope for the best.” That is when I came across your blog and it gave me my first glimpse of hope. I have been making steady improvement, but being there is so little information out there about people who have gone through it, I was hoping you might be able to answer a couple questions that I have been wanting answered. 1. Were there days where you could smell better than others? Some days I am on top of the world because I feel almost 100% better and then there are others where I feel like I have regressed. Did you ever notice this? 2. I also noticed I can’t smell poop. ***yes, very odd*** is there anything else you still have troubles smelling? Thank you again for writing this. This was like a beacon of light in a dark situation for me.
Hi Jackie, that sounds a lot like my experience. To answer your questions, yes, some days I did find I could smell better than others, and it felt like 1 step forward and 2 back. But eventually I recovered my sense of smell for everything (though urine still smells off to me), and I sometimes think I can smell better than I could before with my shiny new neurons! I think it took about 4-6 months to make a full recovery.
Hi Mary, I’m so glad I found your site! Exactly 2 weeks ago, I felt a cold coming on, and in a few days, it was a miserable head and chest cold. Exactly 5 days after the first symptoms, I woke up with no sense of smell. The only thing I was able to smell all day was the lingering popcorn scent at a movie theatre, and even that was extremely faint. I thought it was just congestion, and went to bed. Next day, I googled it, “no sense of smell after a cold” and was shocked by what I read. I had no idea a cold or flu virus could damage your olfactory nerves and actually cause anosmia or hyposmia. I flipped out, panicked, cried, and called my doctor. I insisted she see me. She said, oh, it will come back. She examined me, and said I was quite swollen up my nose. She gave me Avamys, a corticosteroid spray. I told her I had read that early intervention with oral steroids is helpful. She seemed reluctant, but prescribed me a 5 day course of 50mg prednisone, but told me not to take it unless after a couple days I still couldn’t smell anything. That night I got Indian food, the smelliest thing I could ask for, and I could faintly smell it. I took the spray as prescribed and also did sinus rinses (neti pot). My sense of smell improved maybe in tiny 1% increments over the following days. I feel like now, 10 days after the first day of not being able to smell, my improvement has plateaued. I did call my doctor 2 days ago and told her it was improving very very very slowly, and asking if I should take the prednisone. She said no.
I’m very confused and upset, because what I’ve read says that oral steroids is the only thing that can really help., and it must be taken early on. I’m worried about losing this window. There are lots of side effects to prednisone, I know, but it feels unbearable to not try it. I don’t want to regret not having tried it. I asked my friend who is a psychiatrist, and she said there’s no harm really in a short course of prednisone. But everyone else I say the word prednisone to, freaks out and tells me it’s soooo bad for you etc.
I’m a foodie with a side business of baking cookies and cakes. Losing my sense of smell would be utterly devastating. My uncle, a retired surgeon, says lots of people lose their sense of smell after a cold, and get it back eventually. I feel like no one is taking me seriously. By the time I get a referral to an ENT I fear it will be too late to intervene with oral steroids.
I’m glad I found your site, and I am going to try your advice. I’m going to the health food stores tomorrow to buy the items you said to try. But do you have any information or advice re the oral steroids? And what else I should do?
Thank you so much.
Hi Margo, I can’t give you advice about whether or not to take medications. Everything I know about what worked for me is in this post.
Hi Mary, thanks for this post! I`ve been looking for any information I can find on Anosmia and Hyposmia and any treatments ever since I lost half my ability to smell this March 2019 after a very bad cold. It started as a cough that lasted a few weeks which turned into congestion, though I felt physically fine apart from that.
I went to the doctors and was given antibiotics to clear up the congestion and about a week later I could breathe through my nose again but noticed a change in my sense of smell. At times it also feels like the inside of my nose is inflamed, especially when I try to whiff strong smells. I went back to the doctors and was given allergy tablets and was told I had no symptoms of sinusitis or head cold, and that my smell would come back on its own. Its been nearly three months and it hasn’t.
I think I only have a partial loss of smell (hyposmia?) as I can smell fine on one side of my nose but not the other, though it makes sense as I remember being more congested on the right side of my nose than on the left, which makes me assume that my sensory smell nerves have been damaged on only one side. Now I can only smell things on the left side of my nose. From what I can tell I can still taste most things though. I’m scared that if I don’t do anything my hyposmia might get worse or I might lose the rest of my smell and taste as well.
I`m currently waiting to be referred to a clinic (called fifth sense) for people with smell/taste disorders, though I don’t know how much they`ll be able to do for me.
Finding this site and reading about how you overcame your loss of smell and taste through healing makes me feel a bit more positive. I’ve also been trying the smell training using essential oils after reading about it online, but I haven’t noticed any real improvement yet.
I just wanted to ask about the protocol and how often you used the items on your list. Did you do most of them daily or in any particular order each day? (apart from the acupuncture treatment) Do you think it would be ok to have the Ginkgo biloba, alpha lipoic acid, zinc and black seed oil all as supplements daily? Which did you find most affective?
I`m defiantly going to try this protocol and try and find all the things on the list. Thanks so much for posting this info and sharing your experience. I wish there were more stories like this to read. 🙂
Hello Mary… thank you for your article.. I had sinusitis and took antibiotics in December 2018. It took me several weeks to get better. But my sense of smell was decreased. My ENT prescribed me antibiotics again, and flonase. He told me I had mild sinusitis and allergy. Flonase burnt my nose and I stopped using it. Since that time my sense of smell has decreased more. I am having immuno therapy for my allergy. I saw two ent doctors about my hyposmia, they told me that it has taken a long time, and my sense of smell won’ be back. I feel crushed. Your article gave me hope. I’m taking 100 mg of zinc, plus 15 mg in multivitamin. Do you think it is a lot? Today I started taking all supplements in your article. Thank you for your answer.
Hi Jessica, I took the supplements as directed daily for 3-4 months. For me the zinc and lion’s mane I believe were most effective, but that varies based on the person. As I mentioned, a stressed immune system has a greater need for zinc, and adequate zinc stores are necessary for being able to taste.
Hi Nazgul, I don’t recommend exceeding 60mg of zinc daily.
In March of this year I had bronchitis and was given a steroid shot & rozaflin (antibotic) shot. I noticed the next day I lost my sense of taste and smell but I thought it was coming from the URI but I never regained my smell or taste. I believe the medication contributed to this problem. I was referred to an ENT who gave me steriods to take by mouth, and now scheduled for CT. I have started your regimen. I have the smell of cigarette smoking, and what I call bacon cooking. Also, I went to acupuncture had two session but nothing. They acted like they really didn’t know what to do for my situation. I also ready that vitamin A helped in laboratory testing. What do think about Vitamin A
Hi Sondra, I didn’t come across any research on vitamin A particularly for hyposmia, but it is useful in healing mucosal lining in the gut (and therefore nasal passages and skin).
Hi Mary, did you ever find your sense of smell to significantly diminish if you were to lye your head on a pillow or take a short nap? (this is happening to me)
I’ve been ill with the flu for just over 2 weeks and haven’t been able to taste or smell properly since. If I use a nasal saline spray I can get short weak whiffs of what some things are but the smell doesn’t last for long… such as fragrances, food spreads, dry spices and hair wash products. I’ve also noticed that I’m unable to smell any foul odors like going to the toilet or spoiled food even with the saline spray. I’m also unable to taste anything with the exception of foods which are salty, sour, bitter or sweet which are the basic senses on the tongue . I’m still relatively young and have been reading that this condition mostly affects the elderly.
Saying how depressed I’ve been over this would be an under statement and has affected me mentally and emotionally. I haven’t really eaten much since this happened and find no joy in getting up in the mornings or to do much of anything. Right now I’ve stocked up on high purity zinc, multi vitamins, complex B, ginko and have the other items on order… I really do pray it makes a huge difference with my recovery.
Hi John, not in relation to chronic hyposmia, no. But this can happen when you have a cold. If you find your sense of smell doesn’t recover after you fully recover, follow the protocol. You can start the zinc now, which will boost immune health.
Did you also take any oral steroids or prescribed medical sprays by your ENT/doctor before you decided to start the protocol?
If so did you find any them to work at all, even just a bit ?
Sorry for spamming Mary but i have another question, but im wondering if you have the ability of smelling antiseptic creams/sprays used to treat scratches and infections, since you can smell poop and urine now and other bad smells?
I know how pungent antiseptic is meant to be and when i try to smell it there is nothing, absolutely ZERO. It’s freaking me out, this whole situation is really scary.
Thank you so much for this blog and taking the time to respond to everyone
Hi John, as I mention in the post, my sense of smell has long returned to normal, and I actually think it’s improved over what it used to be. I never took any medications or steroids, no.
Hi, Mary. Thank you for the post. I’m going to give these supplements a try.
Here is my story: In June of I think 2016, I got strep throat. I was given antibiotics, but then I noticed I still had a sore throat and then lost my sense of taste and smell. My PCP prescribed even more antibiotics and I think I was on them for like four to six weeks, which I think may have compromised my immune system. Then in October, I found a kitten. I also have three dogs and now three cats with the addition of the kitten.
So, I still had the sore throat and still couldn’t t/s, so I went to an ENT, who did allergy testing and gave me Flonase, told me to take Claritin, and also, I started on allergy shots, and they also said I have nasal polyps.
So, for about a year, I continued on the allergy shots, and other regimen, and had several bad allergy attacks, usually at night, so I asked my doctor for an inhaler, too.
I was also told I should have nasal polyps surgery, but that there is no guarantee, 1, that it would work, 2, that permanent damage could happen, and, 3, that they most often come back. So, I was going to have the surgery but watched the video on it and decided against it.
So, I tried all sorts of holistic approaches. I have an air purifier in my room at night, I tried steam, turmeric in my coffee, oil pulling, humidifier in my room at night, essential oils, ACV vinegar spray, castor oil, and the medications, all of these to reduce the inflammation in my nose and also to reduce the nasal polyps.
Well, when I told the doc I was no longer going to have the surgery, he put me on Singulair, and almost immediately, I felt relief, and then within two weeks, I started to t/s again. I also have been given prednisone I think three times, which would allow me to taste and smell, but only for a short period of time and away it would go again.
So, the Singulair was prescribed in 2018, March and I had been able to taste and smell since about June 23rd of this year when I started to diminish again. Now, I cannot taste and smell again, yet I don’t feel I have the allergy symptoms any longer, or not as much but something is obviously causing the inflammation of the sinuses, so it could be allergy related.
I am going to try the supplements you suggested and report back. I thought for sure I was cured and then this happened again. It is so depressing not being able to t/s, especially when I love to cook, but just the smell of rain, or of dirt, or fresh air. I feel dead inside when I cannot smell. It really is depressing. I had to have a wisdom tooth pulled and was given a steroid to take last week, and I could t/s for about a week and I just become so alive again! And now it’s gone. 🙁
I’m hoping these work. I don’t think I have the nasal polyps any longer, as the doctor said I did not. I was even considering discontinuing the Claritin and Singulair because I thought I was healed until just this past June. Now I’m back to square one.
I will let you know what I find. I think part of it is the inflammation of the lining of the sinuses affecting the t/s. Because the steroid works almost immediately.
Here’s to tasting and smelling again (I hope!)
Hi Linda, thanks for sharing your story. It does sound like inflammation is an issue here. I would focus on anti-inflammatories like curcumin and/or black seed oil in addition to this protocol. https://www.maryvancenc.com/supplements-for-inflammation/
And immune support (linked in the article). Let us know how it goes.
Just a few more questions which hopefully you don’t mind answering.
1) You’ve mentioned that you have since made a full recovery with your smell and taste over the course of a year. Does this also mean that you can now distinguish smells when outside like freshly cut grass from a distance, trees/plants that give off a strong scent, or even when your dog is stinky or has really bad breath
2) Did you exercise/perform intensive cardio or do weights frequently to help with the recovery process? Research says this is meant to release endorphins and helps repair the body in a number of different ways
3) You recommend taking between 600-900mg of alpha lipoic acid. Did you find yourself taking different amounts on different days of the week, or was this always a consistent amount of 600mg or 900mg. I’ve ordered a different brand to the one listed in your article which is a single 600mg capsule to be taken daily and looks like it’s made from a fairly reputable company in the US with good reviews. The one listed in your article is really expensive and would only last 30 days since each tablet is 300mg, and consumed even faster if daily intake was increased to 900mg – – – hopefully I can achieve the same results with this other brand.
4) You mention that you would have flare ups where you couldn’t taste for days. Did you find your sense of smell being impacted by this as well, with the intensity being higher or lower than what you would remember with some foods?
As for my own personal recovery process, it’s been just over a month since this hell started. I find that I can smell most foods, spices, spreads and sauces only when held close to my nose.. some have REALLY high intensity from what I remember and can keep smelling it without a problem, whilst other foods are completely random with smell intensity… for instance I can get a strong whiff of honey and then try to smell it again 30 seconds later and then the smell is completely gone (until I try again 5 minutes later or more and then can slightly smell it), the same with wines and scented candles and other foods… it’s really bizarre and scary
I’m also finding that I’m able to smell some things at a distance like a roast cooking in the oven or fried onions outside on the BBQ but still unable to taste anything with the exception of the basic senses the tongue is responsible for… but what’s really disconcerting for me is that after waking up I can’t seem to smell anything! and the only thing which kicks it back into gear is for me to walk around for a couple of minutes.. Hopefully it’s just a temporary thing.
Still unable to smell anything stinky like dirty clothes, my dogs or even using the toilet.. A lot of people seem to report this as well? So very odd
Hi everyone, I would like to bring my experience here. From about July 1, after a flu, I lost my sense of smell. At the moment it has partially improved. Since the beginning of September I’m taking: 50mg of Zinc Picolinate, 600mg of Alpha lipoic Acid, 1300mg of Lions’Mane, and 6000mg of Ginkgo Biloba. In the meantime I performed a cycle of 10 acupuncture sessions. Furthermore, since a few days I have been taking 1000mg of Citicoline, it is in the last few days that I have improved. @mary do you know anything about citicoline? do you think the therapy is correct?
How much do you think therapy should go on? Thanks in advance.
Danilo, if citicoline works for you, great, but it’s more for cognition, not for nerve regeneration, so I wouldn’t really use it for hyposmia. I recommend doing these protocols until you experience significant improvement, or if nothing happens after 4-5 months, you might need to make adjustments.
i lost my sense of smell sense 8 years
And i use your method and now after 3 months i can smell !!!!
I’m so happy thank you so much
That’s great Sarah!
Hi Mary, I’m so happy to read this. I have an anosmic thirteen year old. I’m printing out your list and going to run it by our pediatrician right away. I’d love to get some of her taste and smell back.
Amber, let us know how it goes!
I did this protocol for 4 months, but now I can’t smell anything except after doing sports !!
After the workout I can smell, maybe for two hours, then everything disappears
I feel frustrated that I can’t spend my whole day doing sports
Hi Nancy, when recovering from hyposmia it is typical to only be able to smell intermittently before smell returns entirely.
How about smell of smoke or any other burning material, did you smell smoke at all or distorded?
I can’t smell poop, urine, sweat, smoke or any other thing that is related to human or animal body or secretion. And this all happened after a common flu. This is really weird, I think there is a “section” of my smell system turned off, I think the most primitive one which has worked millions of years for the evolution of humankind.
Western medicine can’t help no more. I have been treated countless of times there, but nothing works. This is one of the weirdest thing that ever has happened to me. I want my sense of smell back!!! 🙁
Edit to previous post:
I can VERY DISTORTEDLY smell poop, urine, sweat, smoke, raw meat or things that I didn’t smell at all 3-6 months after the flu. The weird metallic smoky kind of “distorted smell” replaces every smell I just mentioned and is not good smell, but not that bad either, but it exasperates me because I know everything isn’t all right in my nose. It’s so weird smell, I can’t describe it because it so anomalous but I hate it. I write this all down here, if someone could give advice, I’m so desperate.
And I have tried lion mane, zinc etc. everything you mentioned in your list. And no results.
Northern Desperate: You may need to do the protocol longer. It can take 6 months or more (depending on your age and your body’s ability to heal) to regenerate the nerve bundles, but there is not guarantee it will work for everyone.
Thank you so much for this. With the side effects of Covid-19 this has been a godsend. I’m 11 weeks out from total loss. I reach a point of almost 85% recovered and now everything is distorted. I too am doing acupuncture and have the same experience. By that night it’s close to normal and then distorted by the next morning. I am going to do twice a week for a while because I think it takes consistency. I’m most curious about the Lion’s Mane. Have been on Zinc for 2 months with no obvious improvement. Thank you again for sharing you’re journey. I have hope!
Hi Robyn, it can take weeks…. keep at it. I would add in high doses of vitamin C also. Illness depletes stores of certain nutrients necessary for immune function. Lion’s mane and alpha lipoic acid particularly are good for the nerve damage caused by viruses that can trigger hyposmia. Let me know how it goes.
I’m wondering if the smell of poop and urine has ever returned to normal for you? Reason I ask is because for me I still cant distinguish it from stew or any other type of cooked meal with meat.
They have morphed together into this generic type of unpleasant distorted smell that i cannot describe.
Many things are also still wrong or don’t smell right, but im curious about this one… I’m hoping that maybe once the smell of poop returns to normal then everything else will follow.
John: yes, my sense of smell returned eventually better than it was prior.
Excellent story, it’s really inspiring. Did your taste (true sense of flavour) come back for most things?
My smell is gradually improving after COVID-19 olfactory loss, but I still suffer fluctuations where I can taste a meal, but then at another time point I can’t!
I just wanted to know if that got restored for yourself? Can you comfortable taste the flavour of food like you used to?
Hi Akmal, yes, my taste came back 100%. Sense of smell is better than it was prior to this happening. Best wishes to you.
Reading your story has given me that bit of hope I needed. I’m a healthy 24 year old woman living in the UK who suffered anosmia and loss of taste from what I am assuming was COVID-19. I came down with what felt like a bad cold, and once all the symptoms had cleared, I was still left without my two senses. It’s been an incredibly difficult time for me. I was sent your article from someone who is also in a Facebook group I joined. It’s a support group for those who have suffered with these symptoms during the coronavirus pandemic.
I have bought all of the supplements you have suggested and I am going to give them a try. I got close to recovery and then parosmia (distorted smells) hit, so I know that I have the ability to smell/taste but I haven’t reached a point of consistency yet. Hoping that the protocol you followed may possibly help me too.
I have just passed 12 weeks since I lost my senses. How long had you suffered before starting the supplements? I have been taking vitamins and other supplements as well as maintaining a very healthy diet balanced with activity and rest. I have also been smell training daily with essential oils and anything around the house, such as sauces, food, drinks, creams etc!
I’m so happy to hear that you beat these awful symptoms. And I hope I can one day enjoy my sense of taste and smell again!
All the best,
Hi Pia, glad you found the info. I can’t quite remember, but I think it was a couple months before I started the protocol. Remember to focus on the zinc which is most important for smell and taste and gets depleted when one has a virus.
Thank you so much for this article. I lost my sense of smell due to Covid back in early April. While my senses did return after 6 days, I am still not 100% almost 3 months later. While I can smell most things from up close, I still have trouble smelling things from far away. Can’t smell body odor, can’t smell my dogs. As for my taste, some days it’s better then others. I can taste good but sometimes I feel like there is a plainess to it, just weird. Was also smelling smoke every where I went for about a week 3 weeks ago. I’ve been doing 50mg Zinc on and off, 1000mg Vitamin C, 500mg Turmeric for inflammation, and Vitamin B12. I think I will be stopping the Vitamin B12 and Turmeric and will be adding the Lions Mane, Ginko, Lipoic Acid, and Black seed oil. Also doing smell training using 8 different essential oils. Again thank you again for this, brings me alot of hope!
Francisco, let us know how it goes!
I lost my taste and smell in February 2019 because of somekind of flu or virus. I have gained it back just partly, I can smell maybe 75% but I cannot smell poo, urine and any other human based secretion. I can’t even smell gasoline or smoke.
Now I read how people have lost their smell and taste because of COVID-19. I find it very strange, was there somekind same type of virus going on already before?
I wonder will I ever smell poo in my life. I need that instict back! 🙁
is there any alternative of Acupuncture ?
i don’t have it in my country
I’m not aware of an alternative to acupuncture. Maybe acupressure?
COVID isn’t the only virus that results in anosmia or hyposmia. Respiratory viruses can destroy olfactory nerves and cause the same issues.
Hi Mary, how long do you think your distorted smells lasted before they start smelling normal again? And did you ever experience any distorted tastes before your taste came back to normal? I lost smell and taste 4 months ago from COVID like symptoms. I would say my smell is 90% back but most smells are distorted and everything I eat seems to taste the same. I started your regimen 2 weeks ago and praying it works for me too.
Hi jessie, my entire timeline on when I recovered smell and taste is recounted in the article. I don’t remember experiencing distorted tastes. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Hello I loss my sense of smell due to covid I was wondering can you smell the environment smells and the bad smells like normal now ?and I can smell and taste pretty much everything but meat is hard to taste like chicken.Thank you
Since it’s been 4 months since smell and taste loss, I’ve been told a few times that even if I recover, my senses will never come back to the way they were before I lost them. But then I think about your story and it gives me hope since you said you feel like your smell came back better than before.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. Besides yourself, have anyone else followed this regiment and found success in regaining their full sense of smell and taste?
I lost my senses of smell and taste early June 2020 and since have regained most f my taste back maybe about 80-90% and only about 60-70% of my smell. My smell I have found fluctuates. Some days I can smell more than others and some days stronger than others. Is this something you experienced? Before I had Covid, my sense of smell I can say was my strongest sense. It was so sensitive I couldn’t have fresh flowers in my office or near me because it was such a strong sense. Now I can only smell flowers if they are close to my nose. It’s also strange as to the things I can smell for example I can smell when I drive pass a restaurant but not body smells which is still odd to me. Is this something you experienced?
Hi Toni, yes I experienced good and bad days before my smell was restored fully. I believe now my sense of smell is better than before. All other details I experienced I share in the post. Best wishes to you.
I am suffering from post-viral hyposmia after COVID. Your story is very inspiring and gives me hope. I am going to follow your protocol. Thank you!
Let us know how it goes, Georgia!
Hi there – you mentioned in one of your comments that although your sense of smell was mostly restored, oddly enough, you still had an issue with urine and poop. Did that ever resolve? Also, I just purchased alpha lipoic acid and also am taking fish oil; do you think that the lion’s mane is necessary too?
Hi there – thanks so much for sharing this. Was your progress gradual or spontaneous? Curious when you knew that you had fully healed.
Also, you mentioned above that you couldn’t smell your own poop, and your urine smelled different than you remembered. Is that still an issue today?
Danielle, the progress was gradual over time. As I mention in the epilogue, my sense of smell is better today than it was and I can smell everything normally.
In regards to your other question, Danielle, yes, lion’s mane is critical bc it repairs nerve damage.
Thank you! My doctor recommended 30-60 mg of zinc twice daily. Plus, I get zinc from a multi vitamin. Do you think that’s too much? Is there such thing as too much in the beginning? I’m already two months into smell loss and haven’t been consistent with zinc unfortunately, so I’m trying to give my system a boost
Also, did the various quirks that you mention (e.g., phantom smells of smoke) go away eventually? how long did those take to disappear?
One last question! Sorry to bombard you. I had been taking tumeric / cumin for anti-inflammatory purposes 2x / day. See below for the link. Do you recommend black seed oil instead of this? If so, how much black seed oil did you take?
Really appreciate the help; this blog post has been incredibly helpful to me.
Dear ma’am tysm for such vital information..as u know due to covid 19. Many people lost their smell n taste too ..
Could u pls. suggest tat how to consume it at wat ratio for covid patients…pls. pls. Will be highly obliged n grateful if u reply back
I have been taking B Vitamins, Zinc, Black Seed Oil and Alpha Lipoic acid. I also have Fish Oil and Lions Mane, but have not taken those yet. Are these all ok to take together? Also is there a better time to take them or generally at once? I haven’t started to take Lions Mane as heard of a few side effects, did you experience any?
One other thing I missed off my comment was about your experience with ‘taste extinction’ for some reason this seemed to appear after being able to taste better and is something that has been with me for about 8 weeks. It’s not all the time, but happens with a lot. How long til you managed to start shaking that off?
Hi Ashley, yes you can take it together. B vitamins are best taken before evening as they may be stimulating.
Mary, Thank you so much for sharing your story and the care and thoughtfulness you have put into it. I have experienced a similar situation except that I am now in the phase of not smelling garlic and onions, etc. for 3 weeks now. I just posted something I discovered on a Facebook Hyposmia support group and wanted to share that here as well to reach more people as what I think is a very reasonable consideration for why we experience such absences in sulfurous molecules. My train of research started with someone’s comment about how ‘doesn’t zinc need to be balanced with copper?” So I am very grateful for your post as it prompted me to research on this further only to discover an amazing, thorough, and interesting academic account as well as scientific studies with practical implications of how olfaction works and the role of metals. The paper is long and technical but peppered with some very understandable and interesting things. I now strongly suspect this is related to copper deficiency. It is well known that too much zinc in the diet causes copper deficiency (which caused a host of other issues) and some studies suggest that too much zinc may not be what we might think of as ‘mega’ quantities. I had been taking 25 to 50 mg of zinc daily for about a month. My smell improved slowly (from having had covid) over a 3 month period with lots of ups and downs. But what has more recently been the case, detection of stinky compounds has been noticeably reduced or absent and the complexity of certain other foods brought about by trace sulfurous molecules has also been reduced. Other food is more plain tasting than it used to be and I am sure sulfurous molecules are what contribute to this spectrum of flavor and aroma. I suspect there are perhaps millions of people who also take zinc for various reasons but especially in this era of covid and I have read numerous accounts of others who also have difficulty smelling sulfurous things. I have no doubt that zinc helps with smell recovery, but taking it too long may have had the side effect of not smelling certain sulfurous things. It seems to be the last thing to come back for many hyposmia sufferers as their smell slowly comes back. This journal article shows quite clearly that copper in mucosal fluid is essential specifically for detection of many types of sulfurous molecules. Some apparently do not require copper (such as the smell from asparagus pee which I can smell just fine). I am excited about including a larger regimen of foods in my diet that are good sources of copper and I may perhaps take a short course of a copper supplement. I stopped taking zinc about 2 weeks ago but I still have trouble with smelling garlic and onions, etc. so it is first clear that stopping zinc does not result in overnight improvement. I am starting today with some beef liver (#1 on the list of high sources of copper). YUM! 😛 😉 I will follow up with any progress on the FB hyposmia support group.
Hi Mary, Thanks so much for this article – it’s very helpful! I lost my smell and taste last September 2021 during covid and still have not regained it, so I’m considering your protocol.
One further question I have is regarding the smell training. Can you tell me what specifically you did for this part of the protocol? When I click on the link you gave for smell training it does not pull up any details on how to do it.
Thanks again so much!