Researchers in Germany have found that acupuncture helps loss of sense of smell following an upper respiratory infection, and is an effective supplementary treatment option. Sixty patients with such symptoms were recruited at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Technische Universität, Dresden. They were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture or sham acupuncture, for twelve sessions at approximately two sessions per week. True acupuncture was observed to increase olfactory function in 20% of patients, which was double that observed in the sham acupuncture group. Improvements were significantly better in those patients with a shorter duration of the disorder. No adverse effects were reported during acupuncture treatment.
The researchers write “It is interesting to note that odour discrimination, but not odour threshold, improved in response to acupuncture. An explanation could be that odour discrimination appears to involve higher-level cognitive functions to a higher degree compared to odour thresholds. Acupuncture has previously been shown to have effects on cognitive function in patients following a stroke. Therefore, it might be hypothesized that acupuncture has positive effects on the cognitive processing of odours.”
(Acupuncture is associated with a positive effect on odour discrimination in patients with postinfectious smell loss – a controlled prospective study. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, March 2022.)