As scientists develop a better understanding of the reasons behind smell loss following Covid-19, new research is suggesting new treatments. We know that smell training is widely accepted as the best intervention, but one team of researchers in Italy wanted to know if taking supplements could make smell training even more effective.
Research suggests that inflammation in the olfactory bulb and central nervous system might have a role to play in preventing the recovery of smell in patients with smell loss resulting from Covid-19 infection. This led the research team to investigate whether treating the inflammation could help. They used palmitoylethanolamide and luteolin (PEA-LUT) tablets, which are known to be anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective, and are widely available to buy in health stores and online.
The clinical trial was conducted across several hospitals in Italy, working with people who had lost their sense of smell for more than six months. All the participants were asked to do smell training for three months, alongside taking a supplement. 130 people were given PEA-LUT supplements, and 55 people in the control group were given a placebo, although patients did not know which group they were in.
Overall, 92% of patients in the group taking the supplements experienced an improvement in their sense of smell, compared with 42% of the group who were given the placebo. And those people who were given the control group were 10 times more likely to have anosmia after 3 months, than those who had taken the supplements.
The study concluded that combining PEA-LUT with smell training resulted in greater recovery of smell than olfactory training alone.
All the participants were asked to do smell training for three months. This is still the only evidence-based treatment for post viral smell disorders and the supplements are not a substitute for smell training.
Palmitoylethanolamide and luteolin (PEA-LUT) are widely available dietary supplements but as with all supplements, please check with your doctor first.
At time of writing, this study is available online ahead of print which means it is still going through the review process. You can read a summary here Ultramicronized Palmitoylethanolamide and Luteolin Supplement Combined with Olfactory Training to Treat Post-COVID-19 Olfactory Impairment: A Multi-Center Double-Blinded Randomized Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial
June 27, 2022