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Loss of smell is a unique symptom after COVID-19 infection and one of the most commonly reported symptoms in the early stages of infection. Unlike other viral infections, post-infection loss of smell, or anosmia, occurs suddenly and without blockage of the nasal mucosa. A new study in the British Medical Journal states that 5 percent of patients may experience long-term loss of smell.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner Wu Yuxuan mentioned that about 12 percent of COVID-19 patients have the earliest symptoms of olfactory dysfunction, and this symptom will subside by itself after three to four weeks, but some patients still suffer from olfactory dysfunction for a year after the infection.
Therefore, Wu has come up with 3 tips to help patients improve olfactory dysfunction.
The Lung and Nose Connection
Wu shared a case: Ms. Zhong, a 54-year-old patient diagnosed with COVID-19, initially experienced symptoms similar to common cold: cough, an itchy throat, but no fever or other symptoms. Then she started to have a high fever, sore throat, painful respiration, and felt pain when swallowing saliva at night. She could not sleep all night.
She went to the doctor for consultation and TCM treatment. On the fourth day, her throat was not sore, and her body temperature was normal. But she started to cough, and she could not stand the wind. Once she encountered wind, she would cough, and her nose was runny.
She received consultation and treatment again, and eventually, she did not suffer from a cough anymore, and she could sleep better.
Then suddenly, she realized she could not smell. Sniffing her perfume, and then some garlic, she realized she had lost that sense.
Wu pointed out that there is no name for olfactory disorder in TCM. However, TCM theory is a comprehensive and sophisticated system where the types of symptoms can be used to deduce the location of an illness. This system incorporates the five elements, categorizing diseases to be of certain natures.
In the Plague Theory of the Qing Dynasty in China, it was mentioned that “warm evil attacks the lungs first.” COVID-19 is a wind-heat virus. The “evil,” or pathogenic nature, of wind-heat goes up, which leads to the upper and lower respiratory tract suffering from the attack by pathogenic “heat.” Severe sore throat, stuffy nose, runny nose, nasal discharge in yellowish and greenish color indicate the disease is located in the lungs.
The lung and nose connection is well known in TCM. When a wind-heat natured pathogen is felt, lung qi (vital energy) is lost, and the nose suffers for it, resulting in symptoms that could include the loss of smell.
Wu recommended three methods to promote blood circulation, clear nasal passages, and improve nasal congestion and olfactory disorders. They are TCM herbal tea, acupoint massage, and essential oil massage, detailed below. Some of the herbs may sound unfamiliar, but they can be found at shops we trust here:
- T S Emporium: https://m.tsemporium.com/en_us
- Kamwo Herb & Tea LLC: https://kamwoherbs.com/
A Tea to Improve Circulation in the Nose
- Lily Magnolia 11 grams (0.39 ounce)
- Acorus Gramineus 11 grams (0.39 ounce)
- Xanthium 11 grams (0.39 ounce)
- Taiwan Angelica Root 7.5 grams (0.26 ounce)
- Pueraria Root 7.5 grams (0.26 ounce)
- Wrap the ingredients in cotton cloth, and add 300 milliliters of hot water and drink.
It can clear the lung orifices and improve the circulation of blood in the nose, stuffy nose, and/or the loss of smell.
For those with long-term nasal congestion and loss of smell, you’ll notice that pressing these acupoints will cause obvious soreness and swelling. It is recommended to massage frequently to help abate the conditions.
You can also use a gua sha tool to stimulate the acupoints with moderate pressure to improve facial circulation and clear the nose.
- Upper Start Point (DU23): draw a vertical line from the top of the nose to the hairline, located one inch behind the hairline.
- Hall of Seal Point (EX-HN3): located in the middle point between the inner end of the eyebrows.
- Welcome Fragrance Point (LI20): located 0.65 inches from the outer edge of the nose, mostly on the nasolabial crease.
- Broken Sequence Point (LU7): located 1.5 inches up on the radial side of the transverse wrist crease, at the radial styloid process.
Essential Oil Massage
- Mild jojoba oil as the base
- 3 drops of eucalyptus
- 3 drops of myrtle
- 2 drops of sweet magnolia
- 1 drop of pheasant pepper
- 1 drop of lavender
- Apply the above oil mixture to your palm. Rub it to warm it up.
- Massage the Upper Start Point, Hall of Seal Point, Welcome Fragrance Point, and Broken Sequence points, and breathe in the scent.
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