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The Healing Project: Anosmia and Ageusia

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

The sense of smell (anosmia) is physiologically connected to taste (ageusia).

According to Diane Ackerman, author of A Natural History of Senses, the loss of smell can cause a major upheaval in an individual's life.

Anosmia, the Latin/Greek combination of "without" + "smell" and ageusia, "without" + "taste" are two distinct symptoms of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Until recently, it was thought to only afflict senior citizens. Unfortunately, those facts have expanded to include all ages.

Anosmia can be caused by numerous circumstances:

  • Allergy

  • Infection

  • Aging

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals, and many other conditions that may cause the disappearance of a physical sense we take for granted until we need to detect smell of smoke or the scent of a floral bouquet.

Nasal afflictions don't stop there! There are actually people who persistently smell foul odors.

Evaporation is the catalyst for the ability to smell. Very often the sense of smell diminishes with age. Alzheimer's patients don't enjoy memory or the sense of smell because these Earthly pleasures are uniquely coupled.

The loss of smell can even affect the desire to make love. Nothing can be more off-putting than discovering that a potential lover has careless hygiene habits by way of a rancid, corn-like odor emanating from the foot area.

Conversely, the smell of freshly cut grass, with a sneeze or two in-between, creates memories for future referencing. Or, perhaps you prefer the satisfying fragrance of morning dew, which also has the power to simultaneously restore your thirsty skin.

Question: Can you smell a thunderstorm approaching? It's electric!

Now, what about taste?

Adults have about 10,000 taste buds grouped by salt, sour, sweet, and bitter. Each area of the tongue has its own domain of taste. The back of the tongue recognizes bitter, sour ignites the sides, salt is distributed all over the tongue--but, mainly in the front.

Unlike butterflies, our taste organs are not on the front of our feet. Imagine if it were so. A restaurant experience would require the skills of an acrobat to savor a good meal.

Food must dissolve in order for us to taste it.

Chewing can be an act of sheer bliss, if food is allowed to linger in the mouth. The sizzle, the crackle, the explosion of goodness as it reveals itself on the tongue is arousing and fulfilling.

So, let this be a reminder to add pleasure to the senses by appreciating them fully.

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.” ~ Anthony Bourdain


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