Training the brain to smell again


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Patrick Leahy has a new appreciation for stopping to smell the flowers.

Patrick Leahy said, Once you lose anything, then you realize, you know, what you’ve lost.

After a simple viral infection, Leahy lost his sense of smell. Luckily, he found Doctor Jay Piccirillo.

Jay Piccirillo, MD, Otolaryngologist, Washington University St. Louis said, We think a lot of people have this condition, but they don’t seek medical care.

People can lose their sense of smell after an injury or with aging, but for some, it results from a viral infection like the common cold.

Doctor Piccirillo said, We think the nerve of smell that enters from the brain into the nose has in one way or another been injured by the virus.

In an attempt to re-train the brain to smell again, Piccirillo gave patients four essential oils to smell twice a day for 12 weeks.

Doctor Piccirillo said, Through brain training, through smelling these smells, we’re trying to, again, get the brain neurons to come back and to allow them to smell.

To track progress, patients were asked to identify a variety of odors using simple sniff tests.

Doctor Piccirillo said, Potentially a big payoff for little investment in time and effort, you bet, and doesn’t cost a whole lot either.

Patrick’s sense of smell improved from 30 percent to 70 percent.

Patrick Leahy said, They’ve both come back dramatically, smell and taste.

Doctor Piccirillo says patients can easily do this at home.

If you think you have trouble smelling, he says there’s no harm in trying it yourself.

The oils used in the study were rose, lemon, eucalyptus and clove but you can tailor it to what works for you.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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