Anosmia implies complete loss of sense of smell. Smells and fragrances are so much part of our normal lives, without which, life seems meaningless. Anosmia is mostly caused by nasal condition. Only few people are born without the sense of smell, called ‘congenital Anosmia’. There is another related condition, with decreased sense of smell, referred to as ‘Hyposmia’.
Causes of Anosmia
Sometimes, the nerve cells that signals to the brain to detect and identify a particular smell of the substance, gets damaged, or if there is a blockage due to nasal congestion, it interferes with our ability to smell. Most common causes of anosmia are nasal congestion due to cold, sinuses, small benign growth that block the nasal passages, certain medications or exposure to harmful chemicals and certain diseases. Mild anosmia may be due to cold, rhinitis, headache, stress, or a destruction of temporal lobe.
Complete anosmia may be due to injury to the nostrils or long persisting bleeding from the nose, influence of acids or any chemical agents. Complete anosmia could also be due to chronic meningitis, cilipathy, neurosyphilis, and rarely due to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ayurvedic perception of Anosmia
In Ayurveda, Anosmia is referred to as ‘Ghrana nasha’. ‘Ghrana’ refers to sense of smell, and ‘nasha’ refers to loss. Ayurveda classifies this as vata dosha vitiation in the site of nostrils, with qualities of Vata being aggravated due to imbalance in food and lifestyle habits, ultimately leading to collection of vata in its site of action. Hence, anosmia occurs.
Ayurvedic treatments for Anosmia
Nasya treatment – Nasya treatment with ‘Anu Taila’ and ‘Shadbindu taila’ are beneficial in treating increase in vata dosha.
Dhoomapana – Inhaling herbal smoke is useful in managing increase in kapha dosha, which happens due to excess phlegm collection.
Vamana –Vomiting therapy is useful in treating increase in kapha dosha.
Herbs for Anosmia – Some herbs used in Ayurvedic line of treatment for this condition are Bala, Bilva, Pippali, Guggulu, Sarjarasa, Twak, Patra, and Paribhadra. Certain ayurvedic formulations like Ashwagandhavalehva, Anutaila, Saptasara kashayam, Balarishtha are also useful in Anosmia.
Home remedies for Anosmia
Garlic – Garlic, with its complete antibacterial and antiviral properties, helps to clear nasal congestion and open up blocked passages. Its anti-inflammatory property helps in reducing inflammation of olfactory nerves, and widens nasal passages. Crush four cloves of garlic and add it to a cup of boiling water. Boil for two minutes, add a pinch of salk. Drink the mixture while it is still hot. Have this twice a day to restore your sense of smell.
Steam inhalation – This can do wonders for anosmia due to nasal congestion. Boil some water in a pan, and bend your face over the pan to inhale the fumes. Drape your head with a towel in a manner that the steam does not escape outside. The moist steam soothes the inflamed olfactory nerves and clears nasal passages.
Lemon – For nasal congestion due to cold, squeeze the juice of one lemon in a glass of warm water and add two teaspoons of honey and drink the mixture twice a day.
Castor oil – This is another safe and natural remedy for anosmia. It has pain relieving, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that discourage growth of nasal polyps. Pour a drop of warm castor oil in each nostril at bed time. Repeat it on waking up in the morning. Regular use will help restore sense of smell.
Include Pranayama, Kapalbhati, breathing exercises, regular oil application to the scalp and rest are all essential in Anosmia. Also, avoid as far as possible, exposure to dust and fumes, pollens, smell of strong perfumes, and any substance that you are allergic to. To avoid repeat infections, avoid cold water head bath and exposure to cold breeze.
Unless there is a structural deformity, Ayurveda is effective in rectifying this functional entity to its maximum.