A common lingering effect of COVID-19 is loss of taste, with some patients still experiencing this symptom months after recovering from the virus. If your sense of taste hasn't returned, you've probably seen some viral hacks for getting your taste buds back to normal. Most notably, rumors swirled that eating the flesh of a burnt orange mixed with brown sugar can help bring your taste back. But is that actually true? And if not, what can you do? We asked experts.
Will Eating a Burnt Orange Help Recover Your Sense of Taste?
"There are no known systematically studied methods that have restored smell and taste in recovering patients," explained Amit Kumar, PhD, a researcher and scientist and CEO of Anixa Biosciences, a company that's working to develop therapies and vaccines focused on critical unmet needs in infectious disease. "Everything that's reported on the internet is anecdotal."
Dr. Kumar added that there's no evidence that eating a charred orange is effective, and it's possible that people who have tried this remedy believe it worked because they coincidentally were recovering at the time they tried it.
"The mechanism of loss of smell and taste in COVID-19 is thought to be due to its effect on neurons, unlike the common cold," explained Sunitha Posina, MD, a board-certified internist in New York City who works on the frontlines with COVID-19 patients. "That's why it's difficult to believe that eating a burnt orange with brown sugar may work."
Of course, there's no harm in trying it - at least oranges, even charred ones, are nutritious, Dr. Kumar noted. However, he cautioned that you should exercise judgment with any potential remedies you find on the internet. Simple things like eating an orange are harmless, but if a strategy sounds like it could have any potential dangers, speak with your doctor before trying it.
Is There Anything Else You Can Do to Get Your Sense of Taste Back?
One approach that appears to have some impact is smell training. The concept is simple: "One gets a series of strong smelling items like coffee, cinnamon, and citrus, and smells each remembering how they smelled before the illness," Dr. Kumar told POPSUGAR. Think of it as relearning your environment.
Dr. Kumar noted that this training could help the sensing cells regenerate more quickly. However, both experts stressed that this strategy requires patience. "It takes three to four months of time," Dr. Posina told POPSUGAR.
Although there aren't currently any published studies or research about how to regain taste after COVID-19, Dr. Kumar noted that this may change soon and result in more concrete, reliable steps to take. "Work is always being done and something may come up in the near future," he said.
POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, the CDC, and local public health departments.