A sudden loss of the ability to taste is one of the most notable symptoms of COVID-19.
Now social media site TikTok has lit up with people claiming a little bit of “witchery” may restore their full flavour behaviour.
This miracle remedy involves little more than an orange and a stove top. But it has some swearing it has brought back their sense of taste, months after it vanished when they were diagnosed with coronavirus.
However, the people that know about these things are sceptical that the so-called “Jamaica orange remedy” is a cure at all.
A dry cough and shortness of breath are all typical COVID signs. But large numbers of people diagnosed have said they lost either their sense of taste, sense of smell or both.
The senses of smell and taste play a vital role in allowing people to detect the subtleties of flavour. Lose them and everything can taste a bit, well, beige.
A number of people who contracted COVID-19 and still don’t have their full sense of small or taste back have taken to TikTok to test out the orange remedy.
Annie Deschamps said she hadn’t been able to taste or smell for more than a month.
“I’m going to try this TikTok witchery and see if it works,” she said.
Chelsie Hill also gave it a go. On her TikTok post many described their symptoms.
“It’s weird, I can’t taste anything but when I do eat stuff I can taste if it’s sweet or sour, salty or spicy,” said one.
“The flavours are there; they’re just bland,” said another.
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Ms Hill filmed herself preparing the concoction that involved charring an orange over an open flame, hacking off the blackened skin, and then mashing and mixing the warm flesh with sugar. Eating when hot is apparently essential.
After a few chews, Ms Hill’s face lit up.
“Oh my god, I can taste this,” she exclaimed.
Followers of Ms Hill began to share their brews and potions to bring their tastebuds back.
There were teas made of cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves; which all sounds very festive and would make a warming Christmas brew.
Others were mixtures of garlic or ginger with orange and lemon – similar to the classic soothing cold and flu remedy.
Others opted for more simple efforts – just straight up licorice drops.
The Jamaican orange remedy has been tried by many on TikTok but not all the outcomes are as successful as Ms Hill’s.
Even after chewing on the citrusy, sugary, fibrous mash, one person declared they still couldn’t taste a thing on another video.
SHOCK TO YOUR SYSTEM
Pamela Dalton, a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia, said she doubted the remedy was a real remedy at all.
“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,” she told the US Today television program.
“You may have already had an ability, but you’ve essentially shocked your system into smelling something strong.”
Garlic, licorice, ginger, citrus, chilli and pepper are all full on flavours that someone with a diminished sense of taste might still be able to detect.
Ms Dalton said some people who think they can taste the orange may actually be recalling the flavour of the fruit from memory.
For most people the senses do return after the COVID is out of their systems, but it can take longer for some than others.
The experience some have had of being able to taste sweet and salty but not the full range of flavours could be put down to them losing their sense of smell. Sweet and salty, along with umami, sour and bitter, are the key taste groups that the tastebuds alone can pick up.
As for the Jamaican orange remedy, there’s no real proof it can bring the flavour back. Nor even is there any proof it comes from Jamaica.
As for Miss Deschamps, she said she wasn’t going to try the remedy again.
“Don’t think it worked,” she said in a follow up video.