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Many thanks for your question about your client who has a strange metallic smell. I note her potential trigger – walking in high temperatures, dehydration and mucus production. In some cases a client who experiences strange smells is also linked to similar tastes in the mouth.
Our sense of taste is controlled by our taste buds and our olfactory sensory neurons. Olfactory sensory neurons are responsible for our sense of smell. Our nerve endings transfer information from our taste buds and olfactory sensory neurons to our brain, which then identifies specific tastes. Many things can affect this complex system and, in turn, cause a metallic taste in the mouth. and a metallic smell. In some cases, focusing on the mouth may in turn help the smell as well as looking at some potential underlying causes which I will discuss below.
Phantom smells, or phantosmia, is a condition in which a person smells things that aren’t there. It’s an olfactory hallucination of sorts, often with no apparent cause. It may be linked to the olfactory sensory neurons – for example if they are damaged, you may experience phantom smells.
There are a number of possible triggers which may be relevant to your client’s health history:
Tobacco: Smoking cigarettes may increase the risk of developing phantosmia.
Chemicals: Exposure to various chemicals- herbicides, pesticides, etc.- can result in phantom odours.
Dental Problems: Dental problems. This include cavities, impacted wisdom teeth etc – I would certainly advise a hygienist and visit to the dentist.
Nasal Polyps: This is a non-cancerous growth that appears within the nasal cavity. For some people, it can cause a metallic smell in the nose.
Infection: An infection within the nasal cavity can lead to unpleasant smells – this may be relevant in view of the green mucus your client experienced. While it is more likely to be bacterial as the antibiotics do not appear to have worked you may wish to consider viral screening
Sinus issues – food allergies, medications, sinus infections, common cold. I would investigate whether your client has hidden food reactions – consider a IgG food panel.
CNS disorder or injury, such as stroke or Bell’s palsy, can distort these messages of the central nervous system. This can result in impaired or distorted taste.
I have noted that clients with Alzheimer’s disease can experience olfactory hallucinations.
Heckmann JG & Lang CJ (2006). Neurological causes of taste disorders [Abstract]. Advances in Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, 63, 255-264. https://tinyurl.com/y9cf3bj2
Devere R. (2011, February). Dysosmia and dysgeusia: A patient’s nightmare and an opportunity for learning. Practical Neurology, 25-29. https://tinyurl.com/yc2melww
Maheswaran T, Abikshyeet P, Sitra G, Gokulanathan S, Vaithiyanadane V, & Jeelani S. (2014, July 6). Gustatory dysfunction. Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences 6 supplement 1. https://tinyurl.com/yavnjo2q
Zinc may be helpful. I would also consider supporting overall detoxification pathways while you undertake some testing. Consider swishing the nose with probiotic as well.
Najafizade N, Hemati S, Gookizade A, Berjis N, Hashemi M, Vejdani S, Ghannadi A, Shahsanee A, & Arbab N. (2013, February). Preventive effects of zinc sulfate on taste alterations in patients under irradiation for head and neck cancers: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 18(2), 123-126. https://tinyurl.com/yb2rp5zf
There are some additional things that may alleviate the condition:
Saline Solution: Rinsing out the noise with a saline solution.
Nasal Spray: Some doctors may recommend a prescription nasal spray to alleviate symptoms.
If phantom smells are due to nasal polyps, then surgery may be required to remove them.
Hydration – keep hydrated
Chew sugar-free gum or mints
Brush your teeth after meals
Chewing chlorella tablets like sun chlorella may also help
I would also address stress and adrenal function – this may trigger strange reactions like phantom smells – perhaps consider and adrenal stress test. Anxiety can result in strange smells and tastes in the mouth. The stress response immediately causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat. Part of the stress response changes include slowing saliva production and heightening the body’s senses, including the sense of taste and smell.
When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can cause the body to remain in a semi hyperstimulated state, since stress hormones are stimulants. A body that becomes stress-response hyperstimulated (overly stressed) can exhibit similar sensations and symptoms to that of an active stress response. Having a bad taste in the mouth or smell is an example of how the body can experience symptoms simply from being overly stressed.
The following supplements are suggested for you to consider in light of your relevant expertise and intimate understanding of the needs of your client or patient. They may be used in isolation or as part of a multi supplement strategy, but at all times the consideration of their use should be tied into the specific needs of the individual you are responsible for.
Zn-Zyme (BRC) – take 1 daily – https://tinyurl.com/lnlffjd
SIgA supportive probiotic yeast
Saccharomyces boulardii (ARG) – empty 1-2 capsules into water and swish around the mouth before swallowing – https://tinyurl.com/z27sdwn
Lactobacillus Plantarum, Rhamnosus, Salivarius (ARG) – empty 1-2 capsules into water and swish around the mouth before swallowing – https://tinyurl.com/z9g65f2
NAC (ARG) – take 1 twice daily – https://tinyurl.com/jq8krhz
Pro Greens (ARG) – take 1 scoop twice daily – https://tinyurl.com/gtqgbyo
Stabilium 200 (ARG) – take 4 in the morning – https://tinyurl.com/hhz7228
I hope this helps with your client
Registered Nutritional Therapist Helen Perks is collaborating with Clinical Education to bring you the first-ever Functional Medicine book club for Practitioners.
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