Perspectives on the Pathophysiology, Management, and Relevance of Olfactory and Gustatory Dysfunction to COVID-19, Part One

Altern Ther Health Med. 2023 Mar;29(2):76-81.


Context: Amelioration of olfactory and gustatory dysfunction (OGD) disorders has become a common requirement due to COVID-19. Although it's hardly exclusive to COVID-19, OGD's prevalence requires exploration of therapeutic and restorative modalities, on the broadest scale possible. No specific medication or treatment of any noteworthy efficacy exists for OGD.

Objective: As Part 1 of a three-part article, a narrative review intended to examine the known causes of OGD, not restricted to COVID-19, and frame their relevance for development of new treatments or the repurposing of existing ones.

Design: The researcher performed a narrative review by searching databases including PubMed, Sciencedirect, Google Scholar, Old Dominion University Libraries, and the websites of various medical journals. Searches included numerous combinations of keywords accompanied by the phrases, loss of sense of smell and taste, olfactory and gustatory dysfunction disorders, as well as the terms anosmia, parosmia, ageusia, and parageusia. Such keywords included viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, parasites, infection, COVID-19, treatments, medications, steroids, supplements, nutrients, alternative medicine, acupuncture, olfactory training, clinical trials, cranial nerves, pathogenesis, pathophysiology, and etiology.

Setting: The Liebell Clinic, Virginia Beach, VA, USA.

Results: Scientific investigation into mechanisms and treatment of OGD appears to be historically limited and unremarkable. Medical literature spanning decades reports a bleak clinical outlook with an abundance of speculation and hypotheses. Limited evidence of effective or reliable treatment exists, especially for chronic cases.

Conclusions: With a dismal lack of medical support for a suddenly prevalent, but hardly novel set of maladies of taste and smell perception; the imperative for multifaceted and broad investigations across all medical disciplines is without question. Global urgency for the development of any treatment capable of reducing or resolving OGD triggered by COVID-19 is unprecedented. Part 2 of the current author's three-part series will address the details of current and past treatment approaches and clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / complications
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Olfaction Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Olfaction Disorders* / etiology
  • Olfaction Disorders* / therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Smell
  • Taste Disorders / epidemiology
  • Taste Disorders / etiology
  • Taste Disorders / therapy