How To Get Your Taste Buds Back After COVID, According To TikTok

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Young blonde woman and young blonde man holding oranges over their faces

According to TikTok, all you need is an orange, brown sugar, and an open flame to cure loss of taste after coronavirus. 

One common yet surprising symptom and side effect of coronavirus is a loss of taste and or smell.

We first heard of this symptom early in the pandemic, and it has since become one of the most reliable indicators of infection. 

As if being stuck with a cough and breathing troubles wasn’t bad enough, some COVID survivors aren’t able to taste food months after recovering from the virus

Luckily, TikTok and some Jamaican grandmothers are coming to the rescue with a hack that claims to cure loss of taste — and possibly smell — but what does science have to say about this popular trend? 

How to get your taste buds back after COVID, according to TikTok:

Read on for the hack that TikTok users swear by, and the surprising results from social media users who've tested the hack after their COVID recovery.

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Why does COVID cause people to lose taste and smell?

First, let’s take a look at why this happens. 

While research into this symptom is still in its early stages, scientists speculate that COVID-19 attacks the cells that support the neurons responsible for detecting smells. This also causes a loss of taste since these two senses are linked. 

Because the virus does not attack the neurons themselves, it doesn’t appear to permanently remove people’s ability to taste and smell. 

Typically, the cells can repair themselves in a matter of weeks, but different coronavirus survivors have had varying experiences getting their taste back. When this Facebook user tried out the TikTok hack in a viral post, she hadn’t been able to taste anything in over a month. 

What TikTok users are doing to cure loss of taste:

In one of the first videos of the taste bud-curing recipe, TikTok user toosmxll claimed the recipe was a Jamaican remedy.

Commenters on the post claimed their Jamaican grandmothers swear by this as a cure for cold and flu symptoms.

RELATED: 11 Best Food Hacks On TikTok That Will Blow Your Mind

The taste bud-curing recipe:

What you need: 

  • A large orange (Seville oranges might work best since they are known to be sour)
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • A gas stove or open flame

Step 1: Place the orange over an open flame holding it with metal tongs or leave it to sit on the flame. Cook and turn it until it is charred all the way around. The skin should be black and flaky.

Step 2: Once it has cooled slightly, pierce the skin with a knife and peel off the charred skin. 

Step 3: Place the peeled orange in a cup or bowl. Mash it with a fork until it is pureed. 

Step 4: Mix in 2 teaspoons of brown sugar or more if needed. 

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Step 5: Eat the orange while still hot. You may need to wait for an hour or so before your taste returns. Allegedly. 

Does it work? 

The trend has become popular amongst TikTok users who have recently recovered from coronavirus, but the success rate varies from person to person. 

One user, Sofie M., tried the hack and tested her results after an hour by eating a spoonful of mustard. She was shocked to notice that her taste buds had returned. 

She did elaborate on Instagram by saying that her taste had only somewhat returned after trying the remedy and her sense of smell had not. 

Meanwhile, in another video, a TikTok user updated followers an hour after trying the recipe to say that the remedy had not worked for her.

She had not been able to taste for 3 weeks after COVID and noticed no difference after eating the orange.

As for scientists, they are unsurprisingly cynical of the remedy. 

Research conducted in May into loss of senses due to COVID suggested that smelling or tasting strong odors like lemon, cloves or eucalyptus could improve this side effect. 

It’s not that these strong-tasting foods actually cure damaged neurons, it’s just that they are easier to detect than duller, bland food. 

Pamela Dalton, Ph.D., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, believes this is what TikTok users are experiencing.

"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.

While the Jamaican remedy is definitely worth a try, it’s not a guaranteed cure. Your taste buds may need a little more time before the charred orange has any flavor. 

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Alice Kelly is a writer with a passion for entertainment, news, and trending topics. When she’s not writing she’s scouring the internet for the latest meme, hack, or trend.