Why Can't I Taste Anything? --
Causes and Top 10 Remedies
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February 24, 2012, last updated January 29, 2015
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

The taste of melting butter on fresh bread, the delicious
flavor of hazelnut chocolate, and the hot peppers of a spicy
curry: your sense of taste enhances your life, adding
pleasure to the essential task of eating. Losing your sense of
taste is distressing, depressing and it can be dangerous – we
take for granted that our sense of taste tells us when meat is
bad, or when food is contaminated.

Impaired taste includes a lack of ability to taste certain foods
(hypogeusia), lack of taste in certain areas of the mouth and
odd tastes when your mouth is empty (dysgeusia), and runs
to total lack of taste. The entire absence of taste is called

Impaired taste is reasonably common – around 200,000
people visit a doctor every year in the US for a taste disorder,
according to the National Institutes of Health – but to
completely lose your sense of taste is rare. Researchers from
University Hospital Basel, Switzerland carrying out a 2001
study on taste impairment found that it affected 761 people.
But the found no cases of complete lack of taste, ageusia.

It may be rare, but losing your sense of taste is traumatic if it
happens to you. What can cause you to lose your taste? Is
there anything you can do to regain your sense of taste? Is
losing your sense of taste the sign of a serious disease?

What Causes Loss of Taste?

The tongue is not the only thing we use to perceive taste. In
actual fact, the tongue can only distinguish between sweet,
sour, salty and bitter tastes. The subtle variations in flavor
that allow us to tell chocolate from corn are also affected by
smell. Many taste disorders are linked with a condition that
causes a decrease in the sense of smell. For example, damage
to the nose can cause a loss of taste, as can damage to the
nervous system or brain.

In fact, anything that interferes with your
sense of smell or
with the nose and the mouth can cause a lack of taste
sensation, such as the common cold, flu, sinusitis, strep
throat and salivary gland infections. Bell’s palsy can also
cause loss of taste. Tooth and gum infections, dry mouth and
mouth infections can all cause you to lose your sense of
taste. Smoking and some prescription drugs can also cause
the condition.

What you eat is also important when it comes to preventing
loss of taste - vitamin B12 or zinc deficiency can limit the
power of this important sense.

Loss of taste can occur due to a combination of factors. A
1996 research study by Kagoshima University, Japan showed
one woman whose loss of taste was caused by an
unbalanced diet, anti-epileptic drugs and psychological

Who Suffers from Loss of Taste?

It’s a sad fact that as we age, we lose the intensity of taste
sensation. Our taste buds start to disappear after the age of
40 and the remaining lose their mass. In addition, we
produce less saliva as we age which causes a
dry mouth and
dental problems – mouth infections and dental problems can
cause you to lose your sense of taste. Therefore, older
people are more likely to suffer loss of the sense of taste.

Is Loss of Taste Dangerous?

If you can’t taste anything it’s important to visit your doctor
to rule out a possible, but rare, cause of the loss of taste
such as a brain tumor, stroke or Parkinson’s disease.
Depending on the cause of your loss of taste, there are a
number of steps you can take to remedy the condition. We’ve
looked at the scientific evidence to help put the flavor back in
your life.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Loss of Taste

1. Stop Gum Disease to Bring Back your Sense of Taste

Dental problems and gum disease can cause you to lose your
sense of taste or suffer impaired taste sensations. Visit your
dentist regularly to prevent problems and learn how to brush
your teeth and floss effectively.

Gum disease, or gingivitis, can play havoc with your sense of
taste. Try rinsing you mouth with salt and water or baking
soda and water, or try eucalyptus. According to a 2008 study
from the Osaka University Graduate School of Dentistry,
Osaka, Japan using eucalyptus-extract chewing gum was
more effective than placebo at curing gum disease and
returning the sense of taste. (Read more about
remedies for gum disease.)

Quit Smoking to Get Taste Back

Smoking blunts your sense of taste, and a serious nicotine
addiction can remove it entirely. Give up smoking and your
food will soon taste better, and you could prevent a serious
loss of taste. In addition, researchers say smoking can
trigger ear infections; a cause of loss of taste, particularly in
children (see below). According to a 1992 study by the
University of North Carolina, children who are exposed to
cigarette smoke at home have a 38 percent higher risk of
middle ear infections than children whose parents don’t
smoke. If you cut the risk of your children suffering ear
infections, you cut the risk of them losing their sense of taste.

Treat Ear Infections to Regain Sense of Taste

Children with chronic middle ear infection or inflammation
can lose their sense of taste, according to a 2011 report from
Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea. The researchers
also linked chronic ear infection with higher body mass index
i.e., children with middle ear infections were more likely to be
heavier than those without the infection, called chronic otitis
media with effusion. Treating ear infections in children is
important, both for its link to lack of taste and to body

Take Zinc to Regain Taste Function

Zinc deficiency is linked with loss of taste sensation - a 1980
study (by Casper RC, Kirschner B, Sandstead HH, Jacob RA,
and Davis JM) showed patients suffering from anorexia
nervosa who were deficient in plasma zinc also displayed
reduced sense of taste.

Make sure you are getting enough of this important mineral,
which is found in beef, turkey, lamb, crabmeat, pork, chicken,
clams, salmon and lobster. According to a 2005 study from
the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany zinc taken at
a high dosage of 140mg a day improved the sense of taste
among people suffering taste disorders.

Other studies have found that zinc, in combination with iron,
can help to restore the sense of taste.

Increase Levels of Vitamin B12 to Fight Loss of Taste

Vitamin B12 affects your sense of taste. One 1987 study from
Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswald, Germany dealt
with a patient who developed vitamin B12 deficiency and,
along with it, the complete loss of the senses of taste and
smell. An increase in vitamin B12 brought about the return of
the senses.

Vitamin B12  has  also linked to Bell’s palsy (see below), one
of the causes of loss of taste. A 1995 study from University
of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia found that injecting
vitamin B12 was better than steroids for treating Bell’s palsy.

Treat Bell’s Palsy to Return the Sense of Taste

Bell’s palsy is a form of facial weakness affecting 24 out of
100,000 people in the US (Teixeira, Soares, Vieira and Prado,
“Physical therapy for Bells palsy”, 2008). Bell’s palsy can
cause you to lose your sense of taste.

In addition to vitamin B12, facial massage and manipulation
can also help reduce the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. A 2011
study from Universidade Estadual de Londrina-UEM,
Londrina, Brazil found movement and massage therapy
effectively treated Bell’s palsy.

Use Herbs to Treat Sinusitis for Increasing Sense of Taste

Sinusitis can make you lose your senses of taste and smell. A
2006 study from University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland
discovered a combination of primrose, elderberry, sorrel,
gentian root and vervain resolved sinus symptoms better
than placebo, consequently having an effect on the sense of
taste. The herbs are believed to help thin mucous, and
perhaps enhance the body’s immune response.

Eucalyptus for a Better Sense of Taste

The common cold can make you feel run down and sick and it
can also, in rare cases, cause you to lose your sense of taste.
Eucalyptus can help, according to 2004 research from Klink
and Ambulatorium für HNO-Frankeiten, Aachen, Germany.
You may have already tried eucalyptus for the common cold.
This study used pharmaceutical grade eucalyptus and
patients reported an improvement in nasal congestion and
sense of smell and taste. (Read about
remedies to shorten
the duration of a common cold.)

Treat Sjogren’s syndrome to Treat Loss of Taste

Sjogren's syndrome is a condition where the immune system
attacks your moisture-producing glands to cause
dry mouth,
loss of taste, dental cavities and dry eyes.

A treatment made up of paprika, peppermint, hawthorn,
rosemary and pumpkin seed was shown to be effective in
treating dry mouth and loss of taste associated with Sjogren’
s syndrome, according to a 1999 study from Bispebjerg
Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Spice up Your Meals to Taste Better

If you feel you’re losing your enjoyment in food because you
can’t taste anything very well, try increasing the amount of
flavor you add to your dishes. Use hot, bitter and sour
flavors like mustard, chilies and lemons in your cooking to
increase your eating pleasure while you investigate the
underlying cause of your waning sense of taste.


Your Sense of Taste Changes After Menopause

After menopause, women tend to lose some of their ability to
taste sweets. As a result, they tend to eat more sweets,
according to a 2003 study from the University of Ankara in

The study discovered that post-menopausal women
experience a "significant reduction in sucrose perception".
About 25% of pre-menopausal women noticed a change in
the way they taste food and 45% of menopausal women
reported a change in dietary habits.

This phenomenon was confirmed in a later study in 2010
from Sharad Pawar Dental College & Hospital in India. This
study compared the senses of taste of 30 post-menopausal
women with 30 men of the same age. A full 50% of the
women reported that they had started preferring more
sweets after menopause.  In comparison, there was no
change in the women's tastes for lemon, salt or bitter foods.

Part of the reason for these changes in taste may relate to
the increased incidence of dry mouth during menopause.
(Read more about
natural remedies for dry mouth.)]

If you are about to enter menopause or you are well into the
process, make sure that you become super-aware of any
increase in your desire for sweets. This increased desire can
wreak havoc with your health and also sabotage your
line, which puts you at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease

Certain Medications Cause Loss of Taste

Clopidogrel and other medications used to treat cardiac
conditions can cause you to lose your sense of taste. Patients
can lose their sense of taste after as little as 5 weeks of using
clopidogrel, according to a study from the Faculty of Medicine
of Sfax in Tunisia.


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