I have a nasty bout of bronchitIis and can’t smell anything.


Funny how being blocked like this alters your perceptions.

I feel bulky; stodged; bovine, and ludicrously disinterested.


Yesterday I couldn’t taste my Indian curry, though I felt the spices coursing toward my flushed and ruddy cheeks.

Not smelling means that I don’t really care about anything. I mean I am ‘winding down’ to the end of term now  (  more like dragging myself through the dirt on my knuckles, unable to muster up much enthusiasm), but in any case, usually in the workplace I am desperately sensitive to my smell, and the odour of the people and the air around me, but today I just didn’t give a shit.


I lumbered in, taught my lessons, stinking of bronchial secretions, probably, my only overt perfume the lemon oil vaseline I always use at this time of year as a lip balm and surreptitious hand scent.


Nearly messed up with that today, though. I was running out  ( a Muji lemon essential oil simply poured into small tubs of standard Vaseline: it takes a few days  for the oil and the lube to meld, but when it does you have an instant pick me up and air freshener not to mention germ killer…not that it did me much good this time but)


Today I had my eye on a peel-pressed oil by French company Florame: so extra lemony it practically makes your eyes water and I could smell it, kind of.



Exposing my appalling eccentricity I will tell you that the next five minutes found me locked in a disabled toilet with a jar of petroleum and a chopstick, pouring in the oil, in fact just lodging

it in the opening and letting it just drip, drip, drip: wondering why it wasn’t the usual yellow, and then realizing to my sharp intake

of gasp that I was using Kenyan Frankincense!




( Aside: I will tell you that I have had one of several aromatherapeutic miracles using frankincense, also in relation to asthmatic bronchitis.

The air at this time of year, though possibly still moist by western standards, is, relatively speaking, really dry: all the sultry rain season steam has been sucked ou,t and everyone soon seems to be catching colds.



I remember that Duncan, and also a female colleague of his, had been coughing so violently that

they had put their backs out. The doctor they went to, then, bizarrely, prescribed some kind of amphetamine treatment to ‘speed them up’ and get the lungs expectorating.


Perhaps for the obese and stolid, cholesterol vein clogging type this medicine might get their lungs doing the correct acrobatics, but for Duncan and Samantha they were coughing

all the more: manic, bug eyed insomniacs and I was getting really worried.






As anyone who who has used essential oils for a very long time will tell you, you develop a certain intuition about what might work. A strong and bodily instinct. And I remembered an exquisite frankincense essence I had smelled by British company Aromatherapy Associates, sold in some exclusive Ginza department store and I knew I had to get it, imported and really overly expensive though it was.




The effect was startling and I remember it vividly.


We were both frazzled and sleepless. Duncan was wheezing. He looked desiccated, and crumpled, and I told him to lift up his shirt.



Pouring an excessive amount of the beautifully



Boswellia into a bowl of virgin olive oil, I massaged it in, and, I kid you not, it was as if we had been transported to another dimension.


He immediately stopped coughing.


We looked at each other.



I felt suddenly clear, and relaxed, as though someone had just flicked a switch.


And even the aromaskeptic called Duncan was forced at that moment to concede that the effect on our minds and bodies had been quite astonishing. It felt almost magical.)





So there I am today, pouring oils in jars when I should be in the teachers’ room, and I realize I have

mistakenly poured in all the incense.



Anosmic or no, I would smell so ghostly, and eerie, and even older, to the students: there is no

WAY that frankincense would work in the classroom.

Pressed for time, eye on the clock, I race to the pharmacy and buy two more tubs of mini Vaseline. The lemon WILL have his lemon, even if he can hardly smell it.



And anyway, I quickly realized, the incense can be used as some kind of chest balm. Which is exactly what I am about to do right now, this bus journey reaching my stop.


Filed under Flowers

17 responses to “‘ANOSMIA’

  1. chayaruchama

    You poor man!

    Your post reminds me of Michael Hutchence’s despair and anhedonia from his loss of smell 😦
    Happily, time and care will improve your condition.
    Heal quickly, and throw a towel over your head and a hot bowl filled with herbs in water!

  2. Nocturnes

    Oh dear do I feel for you!!!! When I had that terrible surgery to remove my tumor many years ago one of the possible outcomes could have been loss of taste, which similar to loss of smell, makes food unbearably bland…..heavens, if I could not smell or taste I would be virtually non existent with regard to my size/weight……

    And yes, inituitively we always know which essential oils to use….I love this idea of a lemon lip/hand balm….I would also suggest you add the lemon essential oil to coconut oil (yes the kind you cook with that solidifies in cooler temperature…I recently made a body moisturizer with the coconut oil, pink grapefruit, lemongrass and cedarwood…..instant pick me up……) you will find good usage for your frankincense concoction, trust me….if you want to add to the anti-viral aspects then turn it into a thieves oil balm by adding lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary,lavender and cinnamon….everytime I feel a cold coming on out comes the thieves oil balm spread on the soles of my feet, chest and abdomen….maybe it is purely psychological but I swear it works to ward off illness……

    I truly hope that you feel better soon! You are not the individual to be without his sense of smell!!!!

  3. I do hope you will be feeling better soon. I enjoyed the miracle anecdote concerning frankincense, it really is a magical thing…truly. My hand lotion from Neom is based on frankincense and it just works wonders.
    I enjoy lemon in so many things foodwise, but only am able to tolerate its scent in Eaux during the warmer months. Do not even enjoy it in a cleaning product, which is supposed to be uplifting; I prefer lavander for cleaning product.
    I do find it interesting to have a balm based on lemon during the cooler months, it seems the complete opposite of a cocooning experience, but I do understand the uplifting aspect of it. I myself am a serious cocooner, which is why at noon time I am still in robe and pajamas and will probably stay that way; ice storm happening outside, perfect day for coziness.
    Make sure you drink a lot of tea and try some with cumin in it also. Cumin is a magical spice and is very curative.

    • Nocturnes

      Yes…do get some spices in you! Cardamom, ginger and especially turmeric….I add them to literally everything (tea, hot milk, coffee, etc) Also, cinnamon and black pepper…and if you can get your hands on some tulsi (holy basil) tea….works wonders to soothe you physically and mentally…

    • Your coziness is palpable!

      I have become more drawn to cumin lately, actually, using it in salads. Have yet to use it in a drink though.

      As for lemon, you are right about the slight winter disconnect, but I am so instinctively drawn to anything lemon flavored that it kind of works for me anytime.

  4. I felt almost present, that is my digital nose was transported to an olfactory apothecary. Shakespearean, I think, definitely not Dickensian. Also you gave me quite a good Recipe, that I’m certainly going to try out in these days of Grippe And Colds. Thank you. I’ll keep you posted of the results.
    A non-sequitur: did you ever read Quentin Crisp? On his time in New York? Your style brought him to mind.
    I enjoyed reading this And on behalf of The Health of my nose I Thank you. PS do you also have a cure for The spontenaeous outbreak of Capitals in my english writing? That definitely Is not ME. (Italics are mine this time). Greetings from the Netherlands, Nelleke

    • I have a horror of misguided capitals, and I know this post has quite a lot of them ( the iPhone posts are quite nightmarish in that regard).

      As for Quentin Crisp, yes I LOVE The Naked Civil Servant. An amazing book, hilarious and poignant.

    • Actually I am quite pleased with the frankincense balm. It helped me sleep through the night and I can smell it a lot more this morning. I tend to use up essential oils too quickly: this might make it last longer and can be applied more easily.

      LOVE Amsterdam in December, incidentally. So cold, but so very beautiful.

  5. I’m pretty much a non-human when I can’t smell. The worst. I feel like I’m living through a sheet of plexiglas. I hope you feel better soon!

  6. Nocturnes

    the story behind thieves oil (taken from Inland Fog Soaps and body products) in case you are interested – “During the fourteenth century, the black plague years in Europe, robbers were known to remove valuables from plague victims without contracting the disease. To explain this disparity, it was revealed they had used on their person a blend of essential oils to ward off the sickness. Each band of robbers closely guarded its blend of oils but generally used the same types of essential oils.”

    and by now you must be getting sick of me and my” two scents”

    • No, I was hoping you would reply like this!

      I remember the smell of the thieves oil and it smelled so lovely I could have used it as a perfume.

      • Nocturnes

        Indeed it has been my “perfume” at night as I feel a cold coming on….and my partner cannot complain as I remind him it is my “medicine”…..I hope that you are starting to recover and such serendipity that you created something new to love (frankincense balm) by accident!

      • It’s divine, actually. Smells beautiful and I slept like a baby.

      • Nocturnes

        I adore frankincense….there is something so soothing about it….and it is also fantastic for aging skin (not that you suffer from that!) as well as skin prone to skin cancer…I have added it to various facial serums…..(and, by the way, it is late so you should be in bed!!!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s