Smell Training: A process that has helped me regain my sense of smell

First things first:

  • I am not a doctor.
  • I do like trying experiments
  • I am not an “essential oils person.”
  • I do well with a process that requires consistency
  • I record thorough notes on everything

With all of that on the table, let’s begin:

I lost my sense of smell just over eight years ago. This was long before Covid-19 made it cool. I don’t know if it happened suddenly or all at once but things definitely changed.

I waited for a while to see if it would come back naturally, but nothing was happening. I believe strongly in learning from experts in their field so I asked about it with my general doctor and also a specialist ENT. I also spoke with a couple allergy specialists who are helping me in other ways. I’ve heard that some people use a Stellate Ganglion Block but I wasn’t ready to go that big yet.

Recently I heard about “olfactory training” and decided to give it a try. In short, it is a smell training with four specific scents. At least twice a day, you smell each essential oil for 20 seconds each. It’s common enough that you can buy “smell training kits” from Amazon

The process of SRT involves the repeated presentation of different smells through the nose to stimulate the olfactory system and establish memory of that smell. It is best to start with at least four different scents, especially smells you remember. The most recommended fragrances are rose (floral), lemon (fruity), cloves (spicy), and eucalyptus (resinous). Take sniffs of each scent for 10 to 20 seconds at least once or twice a day. While sniffing, it is important to be focused on the task. Try to concentrate on your memory of that smell. After each scent, take a few breaths and then move on to the next fragrance.– ENT Health article

The best way to describe it for me is that it’s regenerating the part of my body that receives scents. 

I’ve been doing this process for a few months now. In the last month, I’ve smelled scents that have been absent for years. This includes bad ones (like taking trash to the garbage can) and good ones (like banana bread baking. That was so nice to smell again.)

When any of these scents show up, it usually stops me in my tracks. The sense of smell is so deep in the way we all experience the world.

An extra benefit is that increasing the ability to smell also increases your sense of taste. I’ve benefited from that as well. Soft tastes like vanilla are more present again. 

It’s strange that some days the oils have a scent and others don’t. 

For instance, my notes show that I smell “rose” only 15% of the time. 

Cloves is nearly always present but sometimes smells a little sweet. 

Eucalyptus scent is there often, but even when I can’t smell it, I can feel the burn of it. 

I don’t know if this works for everyone, but it’s been productive enough for me that I thought I would share it. I just keep the oils on my desk and take big whiffs throughout the day. 

If you have success with it, I’d love to hear about it.