Ask the Pharmacist: If you lose your sense of smell, stay home

Suzy Cohen
Human nose

As information and anecdotal evidence is collected from around the world, more symptoms associated with COVID-19 have come to light. For example, if you’ve recently lost your sense of smell or taste, it could be a symptom of the novel coronavirus.

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Up to now, we’ve only heard the alarm sound if you develop a fever, headache, shortness of breath, or cough. But now, it is clear that the nose knows what’s going on (and possibly before the rest of your body). 

For some people, it could be your only symptom, or it could be the first symptom to show up before the others. Either way, it’s your cue to stay home and take care of yourself. By that I mean ramp up immune support supplements (think of C, D, E and zinc), drink some natural herbal teas. But mainly, hole up at home for a couple of weeks so you don’t infect others.

These painless distortions of taste and smell often go under your radar until later, when a full-blown infection becomes more apparent. You can have a reduction, or complete loss of these senses. These symptoms are commonly associated with other viral upper respiratory diseases. Remember these symptoms the last time you had the flu? 

Appetite goes down, food is unappreciated and it’s impossible to smell anything even if you don’t have a stuffy nose! But after the shivers depart, you can smell again. And you want to eat. There are other some medications that can cause it, such as nifedipine, certain decongestant nasal sprays and phenothiazines (used for nausea or hiccups).

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I am a big believer in essential oils, they are the ‘oil’ portion that distills from a plant, and I am diffusing eucalyptus in my home every day just because it has strong anti-viral activity. You can inhale it straight from the bottle. Does it cure anosmia? Of course not! But it’s great in terms of its ability to support your body with a strong, well known flu fighter! Eucalyptus, bergamot and lemon balm are pretty good this time of year. 

The warning about anosmia is being taken quite seriously and it should be. I’m glad that anecdotal evidence has allowed us to quickly see this new symptom. It will serve to help us to know this as a population, as the pandemic continues to spread.

Before I sign off, I just must make a point. You know I love natural medicine. It’s head-scratching that many hard-core conventional researchers and medical doctors suddenly believe in the ‘anecdotal’ evidence accumulating about anosmia but will completely dismiss anecdotal evidence about herbal medications that’s collected over centuries! Not only dismiss it, but with great disdain! Anecdotal evidence does matter, and we’ll be relying on more of it in the coming months. I have a longer version of this article at my website if you’d like to read it.

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit