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On Anosmia and COVID19 – La Gourmandista

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On Anosmia and COVID19

On March 12, 2020, changed. I was so scared. Yet, I had faith that everything would get sorted out. It has been 15 months from that day, and even though life has almost gone back to what we call normal, there are some aspects of it which haven't been able to find their space again. All through this time, we have lost many lives. I think they have been so many, we might not know the exact number. We continue to ask ourselves is the virus happened, if it was designed, or if it simply escaped the lab by mere accident. As everything in life, the first 90 days were the toughest. It was when we learnt the most. I still remember as if it had been yesterday. It was the concert which aired on YouTube live from Milan and the main square was empty. It gave me shivers, even now, as the image comes back to my mind. What mattered most, and still matters the most is to carry on saving lives.

Here in the United States, I think that we are currently going through greatest test to see if we've managed to come out of the dark as we celebrated Independence Day last July 4. Let's all cross fingers and hope we pass the test. We shall know it in a few days, since up to now, at least around the capital city the numbers shown in the last few weeks have given us hope.

But how is the World going? Well, it depends where we are and how the local authorities allow us to see the problem. Doctors, however, still believe there is no truce on the part of the virus. And it's just a matter of looking at India, , and yes, my dear . Vaccination has been very slow, yet available little by little to those who want it; but that's a whole other story.

And what have we learned so far regarding this illness? I spoke to a doctor in Mexico, and even though she accepts the situation is being better managed lately, the medical community is conscious that this is a very complicated virus that adapts greatly. So, I won't discuss anything that does not concern me, and I will rather focus solely on the problem anyone might suffer as a result of the now very well-known SARS-CoV2, more commonly called COVID-19 and which I think is more relevant for La Gourmandista®; the loss of the sense of smell and taste.

Smell and taste are intimately related. As a matter of fact, with a simple cold, one will see these senses lessened in about 60%. It is therefore quite common for anyone suffering from it to say that food is tasteless. Now, for COVID-19 patients, this (loss of smell) is quite frequently accompanied by the loss of taste, and even when 95% of patients suffer from such a symptom, most of them will overcome it in little time. After having had the chance to talk to several people in different places around the world who have suffered such temporary loss, and that even for a couple of them was how they became conscious of having gotten the virus given “their morning coffee tasted like hot water”, to most of them it was a symptom they realized presenting after two or three days after the illness started. Luckily, for most of them, it didn't last long. However, there are those who even when it's been months after they have been considered as healthy again, they haven't been able to achieve the same sharpness they had before having COVID.

Unfortunately, doctors in general have said little about this ailment. I understand the reason. Like I said before, first they had to save lives. And strictly one can carry on living if tastes just like hot water. It's not the end of the world for most. Like Eugenia shared with me, “…the most important thing to do is carry on getting fed nutritious foods to not weaken oneself”. However, Rocío then expressed concern saying, “what if I eat something that has gone bad or if I serve something to my family that's gone bad?” And I am not talking about sommeliers or big-name with multiple who must rely on their sense of smell/taste to work. They are women like me, like you, or like your mama. This can happen to any of us, and that is really scary.

Asmita shared that in India there are ancestral medicine remedies that helped her. They taste horrid, but she believes they helped in being able to get her sense of smell and taste back and now she is back to normal. Medical doctors, at most, as far as I was able to investigate, recommend re-training of the senses through smelling exercises of the most elementary aromas in order for recognition to be again identified. To me, this made sense, since “The Wine Nose” is used in wine tasting training to teach specific aroma identifications such as , honey, among others. Lastly, someone mentioned essential oil aromatherapy. I thought this was the same idea. Gabriela, the M.D. I talked to, confirmed that these kinds of therapeutics, from her viewpoint, may work, since these sensory receivers are regenerated every 90 days or so, and therefore, daily training could help us recover our taste and smell repertoire. And even though it may sound a little out of this world, let us all remember that when we break a bone we go to physical therapy, so why not do it for senses such as taste and smell.

And of course, there are people who suffer Post-Covid Syndrome or Long Covid, and who haven't been able to recover their senses for more than 6 months, or even a year. There are some who say they perceive strange or unpleasant smells, that things smell like metal, or simply different. Could it be that conventional medicine have the solution, or should we turn to alternate therapies such as ayurvedic medicine or aromatherapy to solve this ailment?

For now, it seems we ought to try it, for there seems to not be many options at hand. There are those whose doctors have been prescribed with more serious drugs such as steorids or even surgeries, but, let us hope they are not many who go through that road, because, who doesn't remember going to 's or a specific trip when perceiving a certain aroma? For me, I am not sure if I can imagine life in this kind of “gustatory silence”.