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COVID-19 symptom hack? Experts talk about burnt orange social media idea

People on social media have suggested that eating a burnt orange could restore sense of taste and smell.

Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient.
This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., in 2020, shows novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient.
National Institutes of Health via Associated Press

A lot of people on social media have an idea for how to restore senses of taste and smell after getting COVID-19 — eating a burnt orange.

  • The jury is still out on whether it works.

What’s going on?

Several people on social media have suggested that COVID-19 patients who lost their sense of taste and smell should try burning an orange over an open flame and eating the flesh.

  • People shared videos of the hack over the last few weeks — it was really a trend back in December 2020.
  • Others have mixed the orange peel with brown sugar, too, looking to kick-start the senses.
@vgpuff

Trying the Jamaican orange remedy for getting my taste back ‍♀️ #HolidayDecor #RaisedBy #covid19 #fyp #viral

♬ original sound - Victoria Puff

Loss of taste and smell is one of the most common COVID-19 symptoms. There’s a new study from the Journal of Internal Medicine that suggests the loss of taste and smell could be permanent or at least last longer than others.

So does it work?

Pamela Dalton, Ph.D., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, told Today.com that those who regained sense of taste and smell might have already had their senses returned before trying to the orange.

  • “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,” she said.

And it could be a placebo effect taking place, Dalton told Today.com.

  • “This is certainly true when it comes to odor,” Dalton said. “I can tell you the room smells like banana and there may not be a banana odor in the air, but you’ll look for it, and you might recall the smell of a banana and think you smell it. There’s a huge suggestibility factor.”