Why People Are Eating Burnt Oranges After Getting COVID-19

Loss of taste and smell are common symptoms of COVID-19 that can potentially linger for months after recovering from the virus. While it is often temporary, losing your senses can be frustrating, especially when you don't know when they will return.

Desperate to regain their sense of taste and smell, some users on TikTok have started eating burnt oranges with the hopes that their senses will return (via Today). The viral trend involves charring an orange and eating the flesh inside. While some TikTokkers swear by it, others found the experiment unsuccessful. 

Despite what some may claim, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that eating a burnt orange can recover a loss of taste and smell. In fact, those who claim the burnt orange method worked may have already started to regain their senses when they tried it.

"People often don't know how much smell they lost, so if they do something that's really intense, like burning an orange peel, that will give you an extraordinary sensation, you may have already had an ability, but you've essentially shocked your system into smelling something strong," Dr. Pamela Dalton, a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, told Today.

How to get your senses back

While eating burnt oranges might not be a remedy for losing your sense of taste and smell, that doesn't mean all hope is lost. Smell training may help you recover your senses (via Shape). Smell training involves smelling essential oils and other strong scents and remembering what they're supposed to smell like, in order to train and restore the nerve connections in your brain that are associated with olfaction, or smell.

You can use essential oils like rose, lemon, eucalyptus, and clove or other strong smelling items like mint, citrus, and cinnamon. After you've gathered your scents, smell and inhale each one for around 20 to 40 seconds while thinking about what the scent should smell like. This should be done twice a day. Since your sense of smell is connected to your sense of taste, smell training can help recover both senses in a matter of months.

"We currently don't have big studies on [this olfactory training technique's effectiveness for] COVID-19 patients," Dr. Bozena Wrobel, an otolaryngologist at Keck Medicine of USC, told Shape. "But since the mechanism is, to some degree, similar to the smell loss from other viral infections, we are applying that technique to COVID-19 patients."