Can a custom fragrance help COVID-19 patients regain their sense of smell?

Sue Phillips, who makes custom fragrances from her “scentarium” in New York, is helping COVID-19 patients get their sense of smell back.
5:02 | 07/05/21

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Transcript for Can a custom fragrance help COVID-19 patients regain their sense of smell?
to turn now to an important issue affecting some people recovering from covid, which is a long-term loss of smell. You've talked about this plenty over the past year. A recent study from the uk suggests that it could be related to brain tissue loss caused by the coronavirus. Now, our chief medical correspondent here Dr. Jen Ashton is going to take an in-depth look at this. Yeah, and we're not clear exactly what causes this, but this is a growing problem. We're taking a look at fragrance expert and self-proclaimed scentrepreneur who's helping folks suffering from long-haul covid symptoms regain their sense of smell in an interesting check it out. I've been in the fragrance industry for 43 years, and lately we've been helping covid long haulers regain and rediscover their sense of smell. I've developed 18 beautiful fragrances. I call it a scent-healing journey to see if they can actually identify, and if they can actually smell something. I'm not a doctor, and I'm not a neuroscientist, but fragrance is incredibly powerful. I got covid in April of 2020. It has impacted my work tremendously. As a nurse, you know, we're required to do assessments of patients. I don't feel that I can assess patients properly because I don't have the smell. Hi, Marianne, welcome. I just want you to relax and I'd like you just to concentrate. If you need to close your eyes, you can close your eyes. Nothing? No. Okay, so, what I'd like you to do is I'd like you to smell your sleeve. Just shake your shoulders and start again. I smell something. Aha. What is the something? I want to say a melon. So guess what's in this one? Pomegranate strawberry, honey dew melon and berries. Marianne, you're nodding your head. This is nice. I'm just taking it all in. Got to take it all in. Yeah. It's been such a long time. And you can actually smell those. After 14 months of not being able to smell, how does it make you feel that you're actually being able to identify some beautiful fragrances? Very exciting. Almost like, is this my imagination or am I really smelling it, but I'm really smelling it. Some of the scents I was able to smell, some I was not, but I still was able to smell. It's real. I'm so excited and so happy for you. Thank you. Thank you very much. And we do want to make it clear that while this approach is interesting, it is just one person's method that has not been scientifically studied, but encouraging that there is some innovation and there's a lot of medical and scientific research going on in this space right now. But her results she's reporting, she tried to help 30 people, 28 got their sense of smell back. How does this work anyway in the body? How do you lose your sense of smell? First, T.J., we don't know whether those people would have regained their sense of smell anyway because, in fact, most people after any viral illness who have a temporary loss of their smell will regain it. After covid most people are regaining their sense of smell also, it just may take a while. But in general, when you smell, there are these odor molecules that land in the nose. Then there are olfactory cells or the olfactory center in the brain. That's kind of the receiving dock for these molecules. So it's a neurologic deficit. It's a neurologic symptom. When people lose their sense of smell, that is a central nervous system consequence. You know, this is something we've been seeing from the beginning, people who got covid lose their sense of smell and taste, but now it's persisting. Okay. And I want to -- I don't want to say people are dismissive but there are worse things. It seems like people are having much worse consequences of covid, I mean, death even. You lost your sense of smell, you don't have it so bad. Why is this incredibly significant? You know otherwise, right? You're 100% correct. People think this is trivial or superficial or cosmetic. We need our sense of smell to alert of us of warning signs, like smoke, to smell certain foods that may be poisonous. It is intricately involved with taste and eating. So it's not a trivial factor. It is one more reason why we want to prevent covid in the first place with vaccination. Vaccination, so if people have their reasons for not getting vaccinated, people don't think they should get vaccinated, it's not a big deal. How about that, folks, whatever incentive we can use, how would you like to lose your sense of smell? Which is a serious, potentially serious, not just annoying situation. Dr. Ashton, thank you as always. You bet.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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