Patients who dealt with COVID-19 are now suffering from a strange long-lasting side effect after recovering, leaving them with an almost constant rancid smell.
Loss of taste and smell are physical symptoms we are used to hearing when it comes to COVID-19, but months and months after recovering from the virus, some patients are dealing with smells appearing distorted and often extremely unpleasant. It’s called parosmia, and it’s changing every aspect of the lives of those who suffer, like pediatric nurse practitioner Jennifer Knight.
“It’s totally life-changing while its’s happening to you,” Knight said.
Knight tested positive back in July and recovered within a few weeks, but she never fully gained her sense of smell and taste back. In January, she says she was out with her husband eating Mexican, food and she noticed her margarita smelled like a “dirty old rag.” She says the smells took a nosedive after that, describing it to WKRG News 5 as, “If you’ve ever sat in front of a paper mill company, that sulphur strong smell, smoky a lot of times, and like dead flesh, like dead rotting flesh.”
(Full interview here.)
I have joined a couple of parosmia support groups on Facebook to get some anecdotal information on these problems. Some of the people there suffer from anosmia (lost sense of smell, as opposed to distorted smells) or phantom smells such as smelling smoke or cat urine for no reason. Many have suffered with parosmia for over a year, almost two years. These people are desperate. Some have one or two “safe foods” that they can eat without gagging, they are losing weight, exhausted from malnutrition, and some have had to endure feeding tubes.
There is a very large number of people who are suffering these long-term effects, and their suffering goes beyond anything I had imagined.
The first group I joined has over fifty thousand members, other groups have fifteen thousand and forty thousand members, and there are more groups. This is a not a rare problem.
Here are some statements made by the people in these groups:
“You know what’s heartbreaking and I will never get over? I have not once smelled my baby boy. And it’s sadly looking like I never will. He is 5 1/2 months old. Soon his fresh baby smell will be gone and I will never have had a chance to have that bond with him. It breaks my heart and I cry about it almost every day. I had Covid at six months pregnant and developed parosmia one month postpartum. My smell never returned. It’s just not fair what Covid and parosmia have stolen from me. I’m sorry. I just needed to vent. I’m just really feeling sad while I sit here sniffing my baby’s head and smelling absolutely nothing“
“Now most things taste like poop and bonfire mixed together. It’s so bad it’s making me vomit.”
“Apples taste like multi purpose cleaner.”
“Fresh cut grass smells the same as urine. Yay.”
“I was positive I could smell urine or something- was making me nauseous. Turned out it’s my boyfriend who always smells great. His deodorant smells like cat urine now. I wanted to puke.”
“I’m at home and I keep smelling smoke and have checked everything.”
“Coke tastes like artificially flavored diet baboon ass sweat.”
Some people have resorted to eating while wearing a swim nose clip or with a Vicks tube stuck up their nostril or using sponge nose plugs
“Hi, can anyone recommend some good, comfortable nose clips please? I just want to eat normally again, I feel like I’m wasting away…”
Here is what someone posted…
Anecdotes abound in these parosmia groups. I have no personal experience in this area, so I’m only relaying what other people have posted. I hope it brings solutions that might work to people who need them.
Should you force yourself to eat the food?
Some people say they eventually got better by forcing themselves to eat food that tastes like rotten garbage. Some say they forced themselves to eat a particular gross food and this resolved the issue with that food within a few bites, with each bite becoming more tolerable. I’ve seen posts from people saying forcing themselves to eat gross food gave them absolutely no improvements after months and months, and just caused them to gag, puke, and suffer for no results.
“I got fed up. I started forcing myself to eat the foods eat smell and taste bad. Slowly, foods are starting to taste normal. I can’t smell most things still, but at least fewer things smell rancid.”
“Nope. I ate all the gross foods for many many months with 0 improvement, but was depressed, moody, angry and miserable. I stopped doing that.”
Should you just wait it out?
“Y’all have got to stop telling people that doctors say this is permanent past a certain point. This has been around just over 2 years. They have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. My mom got her smell back at 18 months. I’m at 13 months and slowly seeing improvement. But y’all come on here and tell people it’s permanent after a year or after 18 months, and all you’re doing is freaking out a bunch of people who are already worried. If any doctor tells you that it’s permanent, then run. They’re lazy and they have no data to back up that claim. There are TONS of success stories around 1-2 year marks. MANY research articles say parosmia means the nerves are healing. That’s what we should talk about. Not theories of lazy doctors who don’t have any data to back them up.”
Here is the good news (I Googled it):
The olfactory system is one of a few areas in the nervous system which is capable of regeneration throughout the life. Olfactory sensory neurons reside in the nasal cavity are continuously replenished with new neurons arising from stem cells
Published here in PubMed:
“The vertebrate olfactory system has become an important model for the study of neural regeneration. The most remarkable feature of this system is its unique capacity for neurogenesis and replacement of degenerating receptor neurons…”
Does it work?
I have seen many, many people comment in the Facebook groups about trying it. It worked for some, but not for others. However, there are certain procedures when using homeopathic remedies that need to be followed, and I don’t know how well these were followed by the people who had no success.
The remedy most talked about in these groups is Sepia.
Did it work for my friend? You betcha!
This was the remedy she used…
Another success story from a Facebook group:
I am not a homeopathy expert. But I will share some instructions that should help make this work for you, if possible. It might get long. Read on.
“A little tip for anyone using sepia and experience their symptoms worsening- this is common in homeopathy and it is called an aggravation. I’ll post a link here to read more about it. https://thehealingnarrative.com/healing-with-homeopathy…/It is actually a sign of improvement- but according to all of the homeopaths I’ve spoken to aggravations are much more common when dry dosing (the method of putting several pellets under the tongue). This is why my homeopath suggests water dosing (wet dosing) because it lessens the chance of an aggravation. Wet dosing is very simple- drop one pellet into 4-6 oz of water and stir for 15-20 seconds, (((the pellet does not have to dissolve fully))) then take one sip and wait for improvement. If you don’t see improvement after an hour, take another sip, you can repeat hourly until you see progress. If this happens to you, stop the dry dosing and wait a day or so to see how your symptoms react. If they get better there is no need to re-dose until you see them start to regress again. If symptoms instantly start getting worse then re-dose but try a water dose instead of the dry dose.”
Here again are the instructions, procedures and advice for homeopathic treatment:
Here is an article that explains “wet dosing” in homeopathy:
Additional possible remedies (these were not mentioned in the Facebook groups, I have no anecdotal information about their likelihood of success):
REMEDIES FOR LOSS OF (OR CHANGES IN) SMELL AND/OR TASTE
(End of update)
Here is a proffesional homeopathy consultant making recommendations for different remedies – no harm in trying!
Another source for homeopathic solutions.
“Well ,I was always under this impression that my grandfather, Dr.S.K. Sharma was the first one to practice homeopathy in our family; I was wrong. One fine day in our attic, I found a a book ‘Homeopathic Pharmocodynamics’ by Richard Huge’s, signed may 1904 by my Great grandfather Anand Swaroop Sharma. This means that officially its been 118 years, since our family has been into homeopathy and four generations have been dedicated to it.“
Specific instructions here: Homeopathic Medicines for Smell and Taste Disorders
“Natural homeopathic remedies for smell and taste disorders can prove to be highly effective. These medicines manage such disorders in a very effective manner. They aim at correcting the root cause behind it to bring excellent results. The extent to which these medicines help depends upon the duration and intensity of the complaint.”
(End of 9/18/22 update)
Is acupuncture too weird?
The Mayo Clinic doesn’t think so.
“Expertise. At Mayo Clinic, acupuncture is done only by doctors trained in acupuncture and by licensed acupuncturists trained in traditional Chinese medicine.”
“Chinese medicine ancient texts have been treating loss of smell and taste for more than 2,000 years as a Traditional Chinese medicine pattern of lung dysfunction.”
Full article in the link below, with specific instructions that can be followed by trained acupuncturists (I suggest sharing this information with your acupuncturist):
Related to acupuncture, without the needles, we have acupressure.
Here is a quick something to try at home (short video instructions).
This one is a mystery to me, unless it affects some acupressure points in a positive way. Who knows? I’m not into piercings, so for me this would be the absolute last resort – but if you were thinking about getting some body modification done anyway, this one might be for you to try!
I’ve noted a number of people saying it didn’t work for them, and a number of people saying it did work. From the posts I’ve seen, I would say maybe 50/50.
Here is a sample success story:
Another success story:
Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB)
I have seen a good number of posts on this one, with many happy customers…and some not so much. The person most recommended and thanked for this procedure is David Gaskin (more on him below) – but you might not be able to make the trip to Texas. This might be my longest section – there is a lot to understand, and fears to overcome. Read on.
“This is my son, Rusty. He’s 12. He got Covid last spring and has had parosmia since last May, so a year. What is parosmia? It’s an AWFUL long-haul side effect of respiratory viruses, particularly Covid, that grotesquely distorts your taste and smell. Almost everything smells and tastes like: garbage, battery acid, extreme garlic, rotting/decaying flesh, feces, etc. Talk about AWFUL. He’s a growing boy and hasn’t been able to eat or drink most things.”
“They use an ultrasound machine to find the ganglion (a group of neuron cell bodies) in the neck, numb the area with lidocaine, which he described as feeling like a tiny bee sting, wait a few minutes, and then they use the ultrasound to, again, locate the area while they insert a long needle to inject the saline solution and a steroid into the nerve. He felt the pressure of the needle, but no pain.** This does not “target” the olfactory or taste nerves. The way the doctor described it to me is that it literally blocks the entire nervous system and acts as a “reset button”. This allows the patient to 𝙝𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙛𝙪𝙡𝙡𝙮 be able to taste and smell things for “the first time again”.”
“After the procedure, he was a little pale from the stress (bless his heart), the right side of his face was droopy (totally normal), he felt like he had a small lump in his throat (also totally normal), and his pupils were asymmetrically dilated (his right eye, which was the side that they did the injection on, was significantly smaller than the left side, also normal). All of those symptoms went away within 20 minutes and he was able to try eating at that point.”
“We were planning on getting both sides done, but after the first injection, he was able to regain almost all of his taste and smell back!!!!!You guys, this is a GODSEND!!!!”
Another success story:
“Well I got the best Mother’s Day gift a mom could ask for. My 14 year old son got the Stellate Ganglion Block yesterday and he can eat everything he has tried. Which is a lot. He’s had Parosmia for a year and three month. It’s been brutal for a growing boy both mentally, emotionally and physically. We tried many treatments and things people have said helped and nothing has worked until now. To say we a thrilled is an understatement. We have our son back. But most of all…….. seeing him cry of happiness when he realized it worked and seeing all his smiles since has been the best part of it.”
Where to get SGB:
This procedure is done at Pain Medicine Clinics. A good number of people I’ve noted decided to travel out of their state to get this procedure, especially to see David Gaskin (below).
Here is a good list of providers if you would like to find one in your state.
Here is post Josh Dunlap (TX) made on Facebook:
Hey guys, just wanted to touch on a few points here regarding getting the stellate ganglion block. I’ve seen and heard from too many that are getting the block done and then finding out later that they aren’t getting a good result from the block.
1. No matter who does your block, please inquire if the block is with ultrasound or fluoroscopy ( X-ray). There are so many important nerves arteries and veins in this area that you cannot see with X-ray. An ultrasound is truly the only was to do this block with repeatable success. The stellate ganglion lives between 2 small muscles and these muscles are indistinguishable with X-ray.
2. Please don’t pay over $600-$700 per side for this block. Some of these places charging $1000-3k and up plus a consultation fee and everything else is a total money grab, and seems criminal to me. It doesn’t take that long to talk to someone to see if they are a candidate for it, and the block itself is less than 5 minutes start to finish. Realize this is something you are paying for someones experience in doing this block many times over.
3. There are people that for whatever reason don’t respond to this block, and there are people who get good results then regress. At this point no one really knows why this happens or why it happens to certain people. We currently track all of ours and will for a year to get more info. what I can tell you is the success rate of what I’m doing and what David Gaskin is seeing is very good. The other part to this is that almost every one of my patients reported significant improvements in the areas of fatigue, brain fog, and anxiety. It’s what the block was intended to do in the first place. Bottom line is just ask a lot of questions. Find someone who has done this a lot and don’t get screwed over on pricing. It’s incredible to see people smell and taste when they haven’t done it normally for so long. I truly feel for everyone that suffers from this.
Here is a news segment and article on David Gaskin’s “Olfactory Reboot”:
Here is a post David Gaskin (TX) made on Facebook:
I am creating this post specifically for questions and answers regarding the STELLATE GANGLION nerve block for the treatment of long Covid parosmia and dysgeusia.
1. What is a Stellate Ganglion nerve block? This is a nerve block that targets the cervical sympathetic nerve ganglion. We use a local anesthetic to stop/block nerve transmission through the ganglion that sends a “fight or flight” signal to our brain to defend an “attack” on our well being.
2. What does this Stellate Ganglion block do for the “long haul” Covid symptoms? We have had significant success in the return of taste and smell for patients suffering from these side effects from Covid. A majority of patients have received anywhere from 50-100% return of taste and smell. We have seen a few patients that did not have successful return of taste and smell.
3. How does this Stellate Ganglion block work? In a brief explanation, our body has a sympathetic “fight or flight” response and a parasympathetic “rest and digest” response. Our body attempts to keep an equilibrium between these 2 states depending on what is occurring in our life at any given time. Covid has our body in a “fight or flight” state attempting to fight this virus with a full body inflammatory response, a sympathetic response and an immunological response. Once the bad symptoms of Covid have resolved, our body is “stuck” in this fight or flight response and we are in a heightened level of stress and continued sympathetic outflow to our brain. The Stellate Ganglion block “resets” this sympathetic response and allows the body to return to a normal state via internal auto regulation. And hopefully we will see a return of smell and taste, diminished cognitive “haze”, return of energy and possibly a decrease in body and joint aches and pains.
4. Is the Stellate Ganglion block dangerous? This block has been performed for the past 50 years with very few documented adverse reactions. It has been successful in the treatment of PTSD for combat veterans and people suffering other types of traumatic events. There is always a risk of bruising or bleeding, temporary nerve injury or infection.
5. What medications are we receiving with this Stellate ganglion block? We use Lidocaine and a small dose of steroids. Some providers may or may not include steroids but I have had very good results with the combination of lidocaine and steroids. Unless there is a contraindication for steroid use, we include steroids with this nerve block.
6. How is this block performed? I use an ultrasound guided technique in which I can avoid vessels or nerves while still guiding the needle to an accurate placement for success. We have important nerves and blood vessels in very close proximity to the Stellate ganglion. The use of ultrasound allows for real time visualization of the needle and I can visualize the spread of the solution over the Stellate Ganglion.7. What are the side effects that can occur? We are depositing medications in very close proximity to the Stellate ganglion. You can develop what is called “Horners Syndrome”. This includes a same side injection eyelid drooping, constriction of the pupil, flushed face/cheek, tingling to the face/cheek.
Technical reading in this article:
“The immediate improvements in taste and smell reported by our patients may be due to increased CBF [cerebral blood flow] to brain structures responsible for these senses, or increased perfusion of the facial areas where the peripheral receptors for these senses reside.”
“The stellate ganglion block has been used for nearly a century to treat a variety of sympathetically mediated medical conditions. Its safety profile is well established. Its application in treating Long COVID/PASC is novel but promising. The lack of effective treatments for Long COVID/PASC makes the SGB an attractive therapeutic modality that deserves further investigation.”
University of Pittsburgh researchers report the successful treatment of anosmia (loss of smell) and dysgeusia (disturbed taste) in a Long COVID patient after a stellate ganglion block. They theorize that the loss of smell/taste associated with COVID infections is due to dysautonomia. Stellate ganglia are sympathetic nerve (autonomic) ganglia in the neck. Injecting certain types of anesthetic/nerve blocks to the stellate ganglia can temporarily block or reduce the stellate ganglia sympathetic nerve messaging.
Read the case report here:
“Conclusions: The mechanistic factors related to the dramatic improvement of anosmia due to SGB are still debatable; however, SGB may be an effective treatment option for patients with olfactory and taste issues associated with PASC. At this point, the evidence for using SGB to alleviate anosmia and dysgeusia associated with Long COVID is anecdotal and limited to a few case reports. Collaborative multi-institutional research might be required to gather more evidence to support using SGB as a treatment modality for anosmia and dysgeusia due to Long COVID.”
(End of 9/18/22 update)
(Not Excactly) Chiropractic Handling: Flicking
This one seems miraculous. However, a number of people have reported that it worked for them! A friend said it worked for her! Some people have even done it on their own, with the help of a spouse or friend. If it were me, I would go to my own chiropractor and ask them to view these videos to get the full instructions, then have them do the procedure on me.
Hey guys Dr. Kevin W. Ross here I am a chiropractor but showing a free, non-chiropractic way that might help some people for free. At home. No products to buy, I don’t need new patients. I don’t charge for it in my office. It may seem like a joke but it is not… the website www.covidtasteandsmellrecovery.com has everything for free and success stories from around the world. been posting on this stuff for over a year. I have recently added an additional video on YouTube with more details… https://youtu.be/8aIAEfjgVqw
A Dr Ross patient had this success story!
“I have been dealing with Parosmia for a while. I couldn’t leave the house, shower, eat, NOTHING. I had 10 safe foods, yes 10 and I was constantly trying new things! I lost my job because I couldn’t go into the office even when no one was eating food. I lost so much weight, always on the verge of fainting because so weak. Basically my life was in shambles and I was deteriorating slowly. I even had fleeting thoughts of if this new life was worth it. I finally found this video and that was it my life was back! I almost choked on a chip I was eating because I was crying/bawling in joy.”
On the news:
Dr Kevin Ross in Tempe, AZ, explains and demonstrates this here. This is the original video of 2/7/21.
“New info from Dr. Ross: If you have not had success with pointing at the spot above your nose between your eyes I have been working on this with some other patients in my office. As we get more volume of people finding some other variance. Try this. Put your one hand over your heart but with the other hand use the index finger and point at the temple. The little soft spot just next to your eye socket. Pointing towards cranial nerve one and then get flicked on the back of the head again. The flick is simply getting something put into the nervous system. I had a gentleman in my office yesterday for the first time had to have him open his mouth and put his finger on the roof of his mouth and pointing towards the olfactory nerve and that rebooted his.”
Dr Kevin Ross update video of 1/21/22
Dr Doug Willen in NY https://drdougwillen.com/
You can find kits online with supplies to do “smell training”.
I noticed that the odors they use for smell training seem to be based on some old research about the “Odor Prism”.
This definition is from a psychology dictionary:
Odor prism: The most important is the system proposed by Hans Henning, a German research scientist. It is based on the assumption that all odors can be analyzed into six primary qualities: flowery (violet), fruity (lemon), spicy (cloves), resinous (pine), foul (bad fish), and burnt (tar).
Here are a couple of illustrations of the Odor Prism
Another resource for smell training for the UK and EU:
Here is another resource in South Africa for a smell training kit that comes with an app. Even if you’re not in South Africa, the article makes some valuable points and is worth reading.
““These people go through absolute hell, and because they’re able to walk around and function, and they look ‘normal’ – it’s not as if they look sick – many of them don’t get the understanding and support that they need from their spouses, family, and work colleagues. It’s kind of a ‘pull yourself together’ kind of message, and that’s not fair,” he says.”
In conversations with Dr DeMello, he shared his thoughts on anosmia, parosmia and phantom smells.
“I have treated many for parosmia or anosmia during acute Covid – usually returns to normal in 2 days or 2 weeks or 2 months. Longer than that is problematic.
Possible cause: Virus enters and replicates in the nerve cells for smell or taste. The dead viral cellular debris can remain for some unspecified time – or it could be inflammation of the nerves due to micro clotting. Treatment used by me is colchicine and dexamethasone and clopidogrel. For anyone with these problems longer than 6 months it is a challenge to treat and successfully reverse.
The main cause is not starting Early Treatment Protocols early in the disease process. Trying to tough it out causes many of these post Covid Sequelae or Long Covid problems.
I would also advise anyone with these issues to build up to high blood levels of vitamin D3, even above the 100ng/ml at the high end of recommended range.
These post Covid or Long Covid symptoms are not imagined or anxiety attacks…they’re real. Patients appreciate candidness and straight talk.
No one has the magic formula to treat Long Covid problems. We are all trying to treat an individual to the best of our ability and what is best for the individual.”
Your brain interprets what you smell. If this is distorted through micro clotting, Dr DeMello’s prescription might be the very thing you need to rectify the problem.
For more details on micro clotting issues, and how to contact Dr DeMello, here is my previous post.
Dr DeMello has just shared with me his current approach for the treatment for anosmia and parosmia which is aimed at the inflammation and micro-clotting behind the condition:
Protocol for Treatment for Anosmia post Covid.
- Tab Colchicine 0.5mg
2-0-0 x 60 days
- Tab Ivermectin 12 mg
1-0-0 x 30 days
Ivermectin needs to be taken on an empty stomach at 7am no coffee, tea or breakfast till 9am
2 tablets in the morning,
0 tablets in the afternoon and
0 tablet in the night.
Usually after meals.
if a medication is required to be taken before a meal or on an empty stomach it will be specified and advised.
To obtain ivermectin and colchicine, see my post India Pharmacies below, or speak to Dr DeMello.
I always recommend getting in touch with Dr DeMello rather than self-medicating. He is very willing to guide you with calls and messages. Contact him with a message on What’s App.
I found this piece of research in PubMed.
“In the present paper it is proposed that SARS-CoV-2 patients suffer from depletion of tryptophan, as ACE2, a key element in the process of absorption of tryptophan from the food, is significantly reduced in the patients as coronavirus uses ACE2 as the receptor to enter the host cells. The tryptophan depletion leads to a deficit of serotonin (5-HT) in SARS-COV-2 patients because tryptophan is the precursor in the synthesis of 5-HT. Such 5-HT deficiency can explain anosmia [loss of ability to smell], ageusia [loss of ability to taste] and dysfunctional chemesthesis* in COVID-19”
Chemesthesis is defined as the chemical sensibility of the skin and mucus membranes. Chemesthetic sensations arise when chemical compounds activate receptors associated with other senses that mediate pain, touch, and thermal perception. These chemical-induced reactions do not fit into the traditional sense categories of taste and smell. Examples of chemesthetic sensations include the burn-like irritation from chili pepper, the coolness of menthol in mouthwashes and topical analgesic creams, the stinging or tingling of carbonation in the nose and mouth, and the tear-induction of onions. Some of these sensations may be referred to as spiciness, pungency, or piquancy.
Full research paper here:
This opens the door to a nutritional solution through supplements such as this one:
I looked around for more information but mostly ended up with articles that tied serotonin deficiency with anosmia, and anosmia with depression, and Covid with depression and anosmia, and rats, and the effects of certain anti-depressants… I just didn’t want to go there. I believe the information above should be enough to get you started with a possible solution.
Be well, do well, stay well!