7 Ways to Retrain Your Ability to Smell
Hyposmia and anosmia are a real thing. Not being able to smell is frustrating and more prevalent now than ever. When your respiratory and sinus go through a challenge like an infection, allergies, cold, flu, respiratory distress, etc., it affects your ability to smell.
Fun fact – your sense of smell teaches you how to taste. That’s why when your olfaction ability is lessened or decreased, your taste buds change. You may have a harder time tasting foods or, things you once liked, you now don’t like or tastes different. That can be frustrating and annoying, right?
What’s really interesting about your sense of smell, is that it is the only sense you have that does not go through the spinal cord or digestive tract to get processed. That means it is recognized, stimulated, and activated instantly…faster than you can snap your fingers.
The good news is that you can use certain aromatherapy techniques with specific scents to retrain your ability to smell. I won’t say it is a quick process, but if you are consistent with it, you can regain smelling again. I have seen it many times with family members, friends, and clients.
Science Behind Smell
If you don’t know already, your olfaction ability is much more than smelling a pretty scent. Olfaction fatigue can affect your mood, emotions, cognitive abilities, memory, and more. Numerous research studies have demonstrated how scent affects psychological and physiological functions and processes.
Cognition & Memory Related to Olfactory Impairments: Olfactory impairments shown to increase sharply in the 80 – 90 years. Atherosclerosis has been linked as a contributing factor. Numerous studies also show that many diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s have been linked to olfactory deficits and dysfunctions (source).
Loneliness & Anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure) linked with poor sense of smell: People with anosmia, report more social isolation and anhedonia, which can severely affect quality of life (source). Thus, inhalation of essential oils would be very beneficial in balancing mood.
Culprits known to cause olfaction deficits (source)
- chronic sinus infections
- respiratory distress
- colds & flu
- overexposure to environmental toxins and chemicals like chemicals in a hair or nail salon, bug spray, smoking, etc.
- brain injuries & concussions
- nervous system disharmonies
- yeast and candida
- certain prescription medications & medical treatments
7 Fun Ways to Retrain Your Ability to Smell
As promised, I want to share the 7 ways I have found to help retrain your ability to smell. Some you may know. Some may be new. But they have been profound in helping so many others smell again.
- Aromatherapy: smelling different single or blend essential oils at different times of the day. Rotate which ones you smell at which times. I find matching scents up to the organs according to the circadian rhythm clock is most beneficial. Also, smelling essential oils that are derived from plants, fruits, spices, and berries that you would normally find in a kitchen. You will smell various scents every 2-4 hours daily for a minimum of 90 days, or at least 30days beyond regaining your sense of smell. For example –
- Smell chamomile in the morning between 5:00-7:00am, during the large intestine time zone
- Cinnamon between 7:00-9:00am, during the stomach time zone to ignite the “belly fire” enhancing gastrointestinal circulation (and gut-brain communications)
- Black pepper between 11:00am-1:00pm, during the heart time zone to ignite the “belly fire” enhancing gastrointestinal circulation (and gut-brain communications)
- Botanical Herbs & Flowers: My favorite botanicals support the gut-brain system, circulation, nervous and glandular systems at the same time. These are –
- Herbal minerals such as mulberry, nettle, and alfalfa
- Full-spectrum enzymes to help break down toxins & flush them out making room for nutrients to get in and strengthen the body
- Essential fatty acids – omega 3, 6, 7 & 9
- Probiotics (I like one with bacopa and red reishi to strengthen the vagus nerve [responsible for the gut and brain to talk to each other]
- Antioxidants such as cupuacu, noni, mangosteen, lycopene, and green tea extract
- Anti-inflammatory’s such as turmeric, marshmallow root, mullein, and slippery elm
- Vitamin D3
- Take a “fresh air break”, at least 15 minutes 3 times a day. The power of fresh air to cleanse and renew the olfactory pathways and sensations. When you return, smell an oil as your olfactory receptor sites can hold onto the scent molecule better.
- Limit sugar intake. It has been scientifically shown that sugar can decrease sense of smell, as well as feed a yeast overgrowth (which is another culprit of anosmia).
- Sleep! Adequate sleep, at least 7-9 uninterrupted hours give the nasal passageways time to renew, replenish, rejuvenate, and repair.
- Hormone balance! Imbalanced hormones have been linked to a decrease sense of smell. Aromatherapy and herbs can play a helpful role in balancing imbalances.
- Stress management! While you might not be able to control the stressful situations in your life, you can manage how you respond to those stresses. That will be the key for stress management. When you’re stressed level is lower, your body repairs more. The more stressed it is, the more acidic it is. thus, decreasing functions and ability to restore.
In summary…smell lots of different scents, at different times of the day. Reinforce your body’s ability to restore with herbs, sleep, stress management and balance.
Resources to help you
Want my Aromatherapy Circadian Rhythm Association Chart so you know which oils to smell at what time? Get your copy here.
Learn more about Scents and Olfaction training, as well how essential oils can enhance your immune system, circadian rhythm balance and more with my aromatherapy mini-training bundle here.
Pressimone, J. (2019) JennScents Holistic Aromatherapy Comprehensive Guide. JennScents, Inc.
Pressimone, J. (July 17, 2021) Aromatherapy for the Immune System Webinar Presentation. 2021 Health Chic Women’s Health Summit.
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