Olfactory stimulation using black pepper oil facilitates oral feeding in pediatric patients receiving long-term enteral nutrition

Tohoku J Exp Med. 2008 Apr;214(4):327-32. doi: 10.1620/tjem.214.327.


Patients with severe neurological disorders often require enteral nutrition (EN). Since long-term EN can cause multiple complications, reinstating the oral intake of food is beneficial. Olfactory stimulation using black pepper oil (BPO), a strong appetite stimulant, was reported to facilitate swallowing in older people. Therefore, the effects of olfactory stimulation with BPO were investigated in pediatric patients receiving long-term EN due to neurological disorders. The effects of scenting with BPO for 1 min immediately before every meal were evaluated in ten patients: 4 boys and 6 girls, aged 19-97 months (51 +/- 26 months). The neurological disorders included periventricular leukomalacia (3 patients), hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (3), Costello syndrome (1), Russell-Silver syndrome (1), Miller-Dieker syndrome (1), and cerebral palsy of unknown etiology (1). In eight of these patients, BPO intervention was continued for 3 months. Five of these eight patients showed increases in the amount of oral intake with desirable effects including facilitated swallowing movement, although complete elimination of the need for EN was not achieved. In the other three patients, BPO intervention was not effective; severe cerebral tissue loss, profound malformation or intractable seizures seemed to reduce the efficacy of BPO. In two cases, BPO intervention was discontinued due to cough or because the odor of BPO was unbearable to the family. In conclusion, olfactory stimulation with BPO facilitated oral intake in a subset of patients on long-term EN. BPO stimulation may be useful for facilitating oral intake when used in combination with conventional methods.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Appetite Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Deglutition
  • Eating
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Piper nigrum*
  • Sialorrhea
  • Smell / drug effects*
  • Stimulation, Chemical


  • Appetite Stimulants