December 2, 2021

Remarkable Mate

Remarkable business & finance

Recipes for loss of smell, taste after COVID-19

We’re told that SARS-CoV-2, like its cousin the common cold virus, will be with us for a long time.  How odd that it remains the “new” coronavirus, two years on.

And that means that, for certain people, its symptoms will occur for a long time, too. For the cook, the most telling symptom is the way COVID-19 sometimes wipes out a person’s sense of taste or smell, sometimes both.

This came home to me because, over the past two years, both my son, Colin, and one of his closest friends, Dan Murray, a Denver small business owner, both suffered total losses to their senses of smell and taste. In both cases, they also attempted to “retrain” those senses by using strongly flavored and -scented food.

“After about two weeks,” said Murray, “I got back around 25%. In probably six weeks, 80%. At first, all I could feel on my tongue was texture — no taste. It was like wearing a surgical glove on my tongue.”

“I did two things,” said Murray. “I ate (the candy) Hot Tamales and, every morning for weeks, I went to an organic juice shop near work and got a shot of their ginger-apple cider vinegar juice. It was daily training.” He used it as a test, he said, “until I made a ‘bitter beer face,’ a kind of ‘squinty tart face.’ ”

For his part, Colin, quarantined in a hotel room in Philadelphia for more than a week, just happened to purchase “a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter at a nearby CVS,” he said. “I stuck my nose in the jar all the time to see if I could smell something. In time, it got faint, like someone eating peanuts 10 rows behind you at a ballgame.”

Colin’s taste wasn’t merely gone “for a good ten days”; it also was skewed when it crawled back. “A Miller Lite at the airport tasted really bad,” he said, “acrid, just bitterness and alcohol; no malt, no floral notes. It wasn’t beer.”

Dr. Jennifer Reavis Decker at the UCHealth Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic has helped her patients, some of whom are children, to retrain their sense of smell by using strongly scented essential oils (especially the four of citrus, floral, fruit and spice). It is called “olfactory retraining.”

“The sense of smell is closely linked to memory,” she says, “especially pleasant memories.” That’s why using peanut butter or peppermint candy with children makes more sense than something like the odor of clove or jasmine, of which they typically have little memory or, surely, pleasant ones.

Recipes for loss of smell, taste after COVID-19