When you think of the sense you rely upon most, sight or hearing usually spring to mind. But smell and taste are also necessary for living a healthy, safe, and fulfilling life.
Unfortunately, more people are struggling to smell and taste properly than ever before. Loss of smell and taste is one of the most common symptoms of mild Covid-19 infections and can persist long after recovering from the illness.
While researchers are still trying to understand why the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes loss of smell and how we can prevent it, holistic therapies like acupuncture offer promise in the meantime.
So, how does acupuncture help recover loss of smell and taste? Read on to find out how acupuncture restores these vital senses and how you can try it for yourself.
What Causes Loss of Smell and Taste?
A loss of smell can occur after an infection or from nasal blockages, damage to the nose or olfactory nerve, or damage to the brain or nervous system. Because the sense of smell and taste are related, a reduction or loss of smell typically causes a loss of taste as well.
The loss of smell and taste can be temporary or permanent based on the root cause. Losing some sense of smell is also a typical sign of normal aging, as all our senses dull over time.
While losing your sense of smell and taste has become newsworthy since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, there are several different reasons people may lose these senses:
- Illness (for example, cold or flu, sinus infection, allergies, and Covid-9)
- Head injury
- Hormone changes
- Dental or mouth problems
- Nasal polyps
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Certain medicines
- Exposure to radiation therapy for head or neck cancer
- Cocaine snorted through the nose
- Cigarette smoking
Types of Smell and Taste Disorders
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there are different types of loss of smell or taste based on how your senses are affected.
- Anosmia: Loss of sense of smell
- Ageusia: Loss of sense of taste
- Hyposmia: Reduced ability to smell
- Hypogeusia: Reduced ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter, or salty things
- Parosmia: A change in the normal perception of smell (usually something that used to smell pleasant now smells bad)
Covid-19 and Loss of Smell and Taste
Loss of smell and taste quickly became a common side effect of Covid-19 early on in the pandemic.
With more and more reports of people being unable to smell or taste their food post-infection – even in the absence of other Covid-19 symptoms – doctors agreed that this was a key symptom of a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Studies even found that self-reported changes in smell and taste were more accurate in tracking the spread of the disease than other measures.
While most people get their sense of smell and taste back after overcoming Covid-19, some still haven’t recovered these senses months later. For a smaller group of Covid long haulers, their sense of smell has become distorted; a condition called parosmia. This condition makes what were once pleasant smells and tastes (like a favorite food) now seem repulsive.
So, why does Covid-19 cause loss of smell and taste? Well, we don’t know precisely why this phenomenon occurs – yet. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel virus, and researchers are still learning how it operates.
There is, however, a consensus that the virus likely infects cells in the nose that support sensory neurons (called sustentacular cells). When those cells stop functioning properly, we lose the ability to smell and therefore taste.
Interestingly, losing your sense of smell and taste after a Covid-19 infection is more common in those who experienced milder cases of the disease. While most people regain their senses after six months, these side effects may linger longer.
How Acupuncture Can Help You Recover Your Sense of Smell and Taste
Studies show that acupuncture helps improve the sense of smell and taste by clearing blockages, increasing circulation, and restoring nerve function. Let’s take a closer look at how acupuncture works:
Acupuncture reduces inflammation in the nose.
Some researchers believe that loss of smell from Covid-19 could be related to increased inflammation in the nasal passages. Acupuncture helps reduce inflammation and restore the nasal tissue to a healthy state, potentially returning the sense of smell.
Scalp and ear acupuncture directly stimulate the brain and sense organs.
Along with traditional styles of acupuncture, focused methods like scalp or auricular acupuncture for loss of smell offer promising results. Why? These styles of acupuncture communicate directly with the brain due to their close proximity. They are best suited to those who lost their sense of smell due to nerve dysfunction or cellular damage post-infection.
Acupuncture addresses the entire sensory system.
Rather than focus on just the nose or the tongue, acupuncture takes a holistic view of the senses. In Chinese medicine, each sense organ links to an organ system that determines how well that sense functions.
For instance, the nose is appropriately associated with the Lung system, the tongue is associated with the Heart, and the mouth is associated with the Spleen. By addressing the health of the entire organ system, we can make faster progress towards regaining full use of our senses.
Furthermore, each flavor is associated with a different organ system (bitter with Heart, acrid with Lungs, sweet with Spleen, sour with Liver, and salty with Kidneys). If there is a loss of smell or taste for only certain flavors, we can address the associated organ system to help restore balance and a complete sense of smell.
Acupuncture boosts your immune system.
Regaining your sense of smell and taste is just the beginning. To stay healthy after Covid-19, you also need to boost your immune system and support your whole-body balance. Regular acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments are the best way to naturally steer clear of seasonal colds, flu, and other viral infections.
Using Acupuncture for Loss of Smell and Taste: What to Expect?
If you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste after having Covid-19, acupuncture can help.
At Wellnest Denver Acupuncture, we use a range of acupuncture techniques (like whole-body, facial, scalp, and auricular acupuncture) to help stimulate your sense organs and help you smell and taste again.
In most cases, we recommend a course of treatments over a 10-week period to start. Acupuncture treatments are cumulative, meaning the effects of each treatment build upon the last. As such, regular treatment gives us the best chances of restoring your sense of smell and taste permanently. You will also get specific diet and lifestyle recommendations to encourage a speedy return of your sense of smell.
Regain Your Sense of Smell Naturally with Acupuncture
Losing the ability to smell and taste is more than just annoying – it can steal the simple joy from everyday life and could even have dangerous consequences.
Thankfully, if you’ve lost your sense of smell after being infected with Covid-19, you can smell and taste your favorite things again. With an individualized acupuncture treatment plan for loss of smell, we can help reduce post-viral inflammation, repair damage, and stimulate your senses.
Ready to awaken your senses and experience all the smells and tastes of life again? Book your Wellnest Denver Acupuncture visit today!