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Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Mentha asiatica

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Botanical Name: Mentha asiatica
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Species: M. asiatica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Common Names: Asian mint
Habitat: Mentha asiatica is native to E. AsiaChina to central Asia. It grows on riverbanks, landfills, waste areas and wet valleys from sea level to 3100 metres.
Description:

Mentha asiatica is a perennial herb growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation:
We do not have much information on this species but it has been seen growing in a number of gardens in Britain and would seem to be quite hardy. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. Prefers a slightly acid soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but succeeds in partial shade. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The whole plant has a minty aroma. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion plant for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to deter insect pests. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division[K]. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

Leaves – raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. A herb tea is made from the leaves.
Medicinal Uses:
Asian mint, like many other members of this genus, is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, being valued especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestion. Like other members of the genus, it is best not used by pregnant women because large doses can cause an abortion. A tea made from the leaves of most mint species has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.

Other Uses :
Essential; Repellent; Strewing.

An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain.

Known Hazards: Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha_asiatica
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha+asiatica

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Featured

Nose Job

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To most people a nose is just an organ in the centre of our face. It may be straight and aquiline (enhancing perceptions of classical beauty), snub or button-shaped, flat or crooked. Some of us do not like the way our nose is structured and try to change its appearance. Elderly relatives may pull a baby’s nose several times a day in an attempt to make it grow longer. Others may grab a wallet and head to the nearest plastic surgeon for a “nose job” (rhinoplasy)….…CLICK & SEE

Whatever the shape, the nose warms and humidifies the air that enters our body. It is lined with fine hair that prevents dust from going into the lungs. This acts as a first line of defence against viral and bacterial infections. On contact with an organism or a noxious chemical, it secretes fluid that washes out the offending material (causing a dripping nose).

Sometimes violent sneezing is triggered which expels these substances far away from the body.

Until the age of 18 years, the nose grows and changes in shape and size. As we get older, the nasal cartilage loses its elasticity. This causes the tip of the nose to lengthen and droop. This makes the nose appear larger in older people.

The nose enables us to smell. This helps us identify substances and distinguish between pleasant harmless odours and noxious harmful ones. Like other animals, man once had a keenly developed sense of smell. This helped him identify potentially dangerous animals as well as warring strangers from other regions and tribes. We adults have lost this ability with evolution. However, smell is the best developed of all the five senses in a baby. Infants can distinguish between their mothers, other lactating women and strangers.

The sense of smell contributes to the taste of our food. People suffering from anosmia, or loss of the sense of smell, do not find food palatable. This causes them to lose weight. Anosmia may be a temporary phenomenon when the nose is blocked as a result of a cold. It may occur when the “smell centre” in the brain is damaged, or if the person has Parkinson’s disease. Attempts to relieve a blocked nose with repeated use of nasal sprays can damage the lining of the nose sufficiently to cause a permanent loss of smell.

Some people tend to pick their using their fingers. This is an unsavoury, socially unacceptable habit. It may also resul noses t in damage to the lining of the nose and bleeding. Constant trauma to the nostrils can cause infection of the hair follicles in the nose. This can result in fever, swelling and pus formation.

A pierced nose is perceived to enhance the beauty of a woman. It is a common practice in India from ancient times and was believed to ease the pains of childbirth. The area that should be pierced is just below the cartilage. If the nose cartilage is accidentally pierced instead, serious complications like bleeding, infection and permanent deformity can occur. Even otherwise, infection, redness, swelling and scar formation may occur.

The jewellery used may cause problems. It may come loose and be accidentally swallowed. The back of the stud can become embedded in the skin, or nose rings can get caught in clothing and violently pulled out. Also, once you have pierced your nose, even if you change your mind and decide against jewellery, there will always be a little hole.

About 60 per cent of people experience nose bleed (epistaxis) at some time in their lives. It occurs most often under the age of 10 and over the age of 60 years. This is usually due to a local problem in the nose like a cold, nose picking, a foreign body, irritants like cigarette smoke, or an injury. Less often it may be due to a systemic disease like high blood pressure or clotting disorders like haemophilia. It can also occur owing to blood thinning medicines such as aspirin, clopidogrel, heparin or warfarin. The patient may have purchased medicines over the counter, or may be taking non-allopathic drugs and may be unaware of their side effects.

Most nosebleeds can be tackled at home:

*Make the person sit up. This prevents blood from filling up in the throat and choking the person

*Pinch the nostrils firmly and maintain steady pressure for 10 minutes

*Instill a decongestant nasal spray containing oxymetazoline (Nasivion or Otrivin).

Most nosebleeds are harmless. Very rarely, they can be fatal. You need to seek medical help if the bleeding has lasted for more than 20 minutes, or if it followed a fall, a blow to the head or an accident.

Epistaxis
Epistaxis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recurrent nosebleeds with no identifiable or correctable cause need to be tackled by an ENT surgeon.

Source : The Telegraph ( kolkata, India)

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Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Smell Disorder

Introduction:
Our sense of smell & taste helps us enjoy life. We delight in the aromas of our favorite foods or the fragrance of flowers. Our sense of smell also is a warning system, alerting us to danger signals such as a gas leak, spoiled food, or a fire. Any loss in our sense of smell can have a negative effect on our quality of life. It also can be a sign of more serious health problems.

Roughly 1–2 percent of people in North America say that they have a smell disorder. Problems with smell increase as people get older, and they are more common in men than women. In one study, nearly one-quarter of men ages 60–69 had a smell disorder, while about 11 percent of women in that age range reported a problem.

Many people who have smell disorders also notice problems with their sense of taste.

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Other Names:
Loss of smell; Anosmia.

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How do we smell?
Our sense of smell—like our sense of taste—is part of our chemosensory system, or the chemical senses  or the chemosenses.Sensory cells in our nose, mouth, and throat have a role in helping us interpret smells, as well as taste flavors. Microscopic molecules released by the substances around us (foods, flowers, etc.) stimulate these sensory cells. Once the cells detect the molecules they send messages to our brains, where we identify the smell. Olfactory, or smell nerve cells, are stimulated by the odors around us–the fragrance of a gardenia or the smell of bread baking. These nerve cells are found in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose, and they connect directly to the brain. Our sense of smell is also influenced by something called the common chemical sense. This sense involves nerve endings in our eyes, nose, mouth, and throat, especially those on moist surfaces. Beyond smell and taste, these nerve endings help us sense the feelings stimulated by different substances, such as the eye-watering potency of an onion or the refreshing cool of peppermint. It’s a surprise to many people to learn that flavors are recognized mainly through the sense of smell. Along with texture, temperature, and the sensations from the common chemical sense, the perception of flavor comes from a combination of odors and taste. Without the olfactory cells, familiar flavors like coffee or oranges would be harder to distinguish....CLICK & SEE

Types of smell disorders:
People who experience smell disorders experience either a loss in their ability to smell or changes in the way they perceive odors. As for loss of the sense of smell, some people have hyposmia, which is when their ability to detect odor is reduced. Other people can’t detect odor at all, which is called anosmia. As for changes in the perception of odors, some people notice that familiar odors become distorted. Or, an odor that usually smells pleasant instead smells foul. Still other people may perceive a smell that isn’t present at all.You may click to see :Smell Dysfunction Glossary of Terms….
Sniff Test May Signal Disorders’ Early Stages ….

Symptoms:
Smell disorder  symptoms are : Reduced sense of smell, Anosmia, Olfactory dysfunction, Loss of smell, Lack of sense of smell in children, Paraosmia due to amebic meningitis or other types.

There are various symptoms related to “smell”. Having a particular smell or odor can be a serious symptom. There are various odor symptoms such as body odor, urine odor, stool odor, and other odor symptoms. The sense of smell can be subject to loss of smell, loss of taste, or other nose symptoms….


Considerations:

The loss of smell can occur as a result of nasal congestion or blockage of the nose and isn’t serious, but it can sometimes be a sign of a nervous system (neurological) condition.

Temporary loss of the sense of smell is common with colds and nasal allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis). It may occur after a viral illness.

Some loss of smell occurs with aging. In most cases, there is no obvious or immediate cause, and there is no treatment.

The sense of smell is often lost with disorders that prevent air from reaching the part of the nose where smell receptors are located (the cribriform plate, located high in the nose). These disorders may include nasal polyps, nasal septal deformities, and nasal tumors.

Other disorders that may cause a loss of the sense of smell include:

The sense of smell also enhances your ability to taste. Many people who lose their sense of smell also complain of a loss of the sense of taste. Most can still tell between salty, sweet, sour, and bitter tastes, which are sensed on the tongue. They may not be able to tell between other flavors. Some spices (such as pepper) may affect the nerves of the face and may be felt rather than smelled.

Causes:
Smell disorders have many causes, with some more obvious than others. Most people who develop a smell disorder have experienced a recent illness or injury. Common causes of smell disorders are:

*Disorders of the endocrine system
*Head trauma
*Nervous disorders
*Nutritional disorders
*Tumors of the head or brain
*Many medications may change or decrease the ability to detect odors.
*Sinus and other upper respiratory infections
*Polyps in the nasal cavities
*Frontal head injuries
*Hormonal disturbances
*Dental problems
*Exposure to certain chemicals, such as insecticides and solvents
*Numerous medications, including some common antibiotics and antihistamines
*Radiation associated with the treatment of head and neck cancers
*Aging
*Other health issues that affect the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease

In the year 2009, the FDA warned consumers to stop using several popular cold remedies because they could result in the loss of smell. Smoking also can interfere with our sense of smell.

Most people who develop a smell disorder have recently experienced an illness or an injury. Common triggers are upper respiratory infections and head injuries.  Some medicines have also been associated with smell disorders. People with head and neck cancers who receive radiation treatment are also among those who experience problems with their sense of smell.

Associated conditions
* Dysosmia
* Kallmann syndrome
* Zinc deficiency
* Cadmium Poisoning
* Holoprosencephaly
* Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis caused by Naegleria fowleri
* Refsum disease
* CHARGE syndrome
* Ageusia

Diagnosis:
Both smell and taste disorders are treated by an otolaryngologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases of the ear, nose, throat, head, and neck. Some tests are designed to measure the smallest amount of odor that patients can detect. Another common test consists of a booklet of sheets that contain tiny beads filled with specific odors.In fact, an easily administered “scratch and sniff” test allows a person to scratch pieces of paper treated to release different odors, sniff them, and try to identify each odor from a list of possibilities. In this way, doctors can easily determine whether patients have hyposmia, anosmia, or another kind of smell disorder.

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An accurate assessment of your smell disorder will include, among other things, a physical examination of your ears, nose, and throat; a review of your health history, such as exposure to toxic chemicals or trauma; and a smell test supervised by a health care professional.

Risk Factors:
Like all of our senses, our sense of smell plays an important part in our lives.When smell is impaired, some people change their eating habits. Some may eat too little and lose weight while others may eat too much and gain weight. Food becomes less enjoyable and people may use too much salt to improve the taste. This can be a problem for people with certain medical conditions, such high blood pressure or kidney disease. In severe cases, loss of smell can lead to depression.

The sense of smell often serves as a first warning signal, alerting us to the smoke of a fire or the odor of a natural gas leak and dangerous fumes. Perhaps more important is that our chemosenses are sometimes a signal of serious health problems. Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, malnutrition, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Korsakoff’s psychosis are all accompanied or signaled by chemosensory problems like smell disorders.

Presentation
Anosmia or smell disorder can have a number of detrimental effects. Patients with sudden onset anosmia may find food less appetizing, though congenital anosmics rarely complain about this. Loss of smell can also be dangerous because it hinders the detection of gas leaks, fire, and spoiled food. The common view of anosmia as trivial can make it more difficult for a patient to receive the same types of medical aid as someone who has lost other senses, such as hearing or sight.

Losing an established and sentimental smell memory (e.g. the smell of grass, of the grandparents’ attic, of a particular book, of loved ones, or of oneself) has been known to cause feelings of depression.

Loss of olfaction may lead to the loss of libido, though this usually does not apply to congenital anosmics.

Often people who have congenital anosmia report that they pretended to be able to smell as children because they thought that smelling was something that older/mature people could do, or did not understand the concept of smelling but did not want to appear different from others. When children get older, they often realize and report to their parents that they do not actually possess a sense of smell, often, to the surprise of their parents.

Zicam controversy
On June 16, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Matrixx Initiatives, manufacturer of an over-the-counter nasal spray for the common cold, Zicam. The FDA cited complaints that the product caused anosmia. The manufacturer strongly denies these allegations, but has recalled the product and has stopped selling it.

Treatment:
Some people experience relief from smell disorders. Since certain medications can cause a problem, adjusting or changing that medicine may ease its effect on the sense of smell. Others recover their ability to smell when the illness causing their olfactory problem resolves. For patients with nasal obstructions such as polyps, surgery can remove the obstructions and restore airflow. Not infrequently, people enjoy a spontaneous recovery because olfactory neurons may regenerate following damage.

Home Care:
Treating the cause of the problem may correct loss of the sense of smell. Treatment can include:

*Antihistamines (if the condition is related to allergy)
*Changes in medication
*Surgery to correct blockages
*Treatment of other disorders
*Avoid using too many nasal decongestants, which can lead to recurring nasal congestion.

If you lose your sense of smell, you may have changes in taste. But, adding highly seasoned foods to your diet can help stimulate the taste sensations that you still have.

Improve your safety at home by using smoke detectors and electric appliances instead of gas ones. You may not be able to smell gas if there is a leak. Or, install equipment that detects the presence of gas fumes in the home.

There is no treatment for loss of smell due to aging.

If you have a loss of smell due to a recent viral upper respiratory infection, be patient. The sense of smell may return to normal without treatment.

Click to see:Herbs for Loss of Smell & Taste

Click to learn more about : Treatments for a Loss of Sense of Smell

Research:
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) supports basic and clinical investigations of smell and taste disorders at institutions across the nation. Some of these studies are conducted at chemosensory research centers, where scientists are making discoveries that help them understand our olfactory system and may lead to new treatments for smell disorders.

Some of the most recent research into our sense of smell is also the most exciting. In 2004, NIDCD grantee Linda B. Buck, Ph.D., together with Richard Axel, M.D., received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of a family of about 1,000 olfactory receptor genes that encode the receptors found on olfactory sensory neurons—one receptor per neuron. Recent studies on how olfactory sensory neurons recognize odors, aided by new technology, are revealing how our olfactory system detects and identifies the differences between the many chemical compounds that form odors.

Like our sense of taste, our sense of smell can be damaged by certain medicines. However, other medications, especially those prescribed for allergies, may improve the sense of smell. NIDCD-supported scientists are working to find out why this is so in an effort to develop drugs that can help restore a person’s sense of smell.

NIDCD-supported researchers have found that the loss of smell affects the choices an older person makes about eating certain foods. Food choices impact diet and overall health. They are looking at how and why this takes place in order to develop more effective ways to help older people—especially those with chronic illnesses—cope better with problems with smell and to maintain proper nutrition.

Olfactory sensory neurons—as well as sensory cells that help us taste—are the only sensory cells that our bodies regularly replace. Scientists are exploring why and how this happens in order that they might find ways to replace other damaged sensory and nerve cells.

NIDCD-supported chemosensory scientists are exploring how to:

*Promote the regeneration of sensory and nerve cells.
*Understand the effects of the environment (such as gasoline fumes, chemicals, and extremes of relative humidity and temperature) on smell and taste.
*Prevent the effects of aging on smell and taste.
*Prevent infectious agents and toxins from reaching the brain through the olfactory nerve.
*Develop new diagnostic tests for taste and smell disorders.
*Understand associations between chemosensory disorders and altered food intake in aging as well as in various chronic illnesses.
*Improve treatment methods and rehabilitation strategies.

MORE INFORMATION:-

Click For more information NIDCD Information Clearinghouse.

The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information about hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. This directory is available at www.nidcd.nih.gov/directory.

To find organizations with information specifically about smell disorders, click on Smell and Taste in the “Browse by Topic” list.

For more information, additional addresses and phone numbers, or a printed list of organizations, contact:

NIDCD Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20892-3456
Toll-free Voice: (800) 241-1044 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (800) 241-1044      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Toll-free TTY: (800) 241-1055
Fax: (301) 770-8977
E-mail: nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov
NIH Publication No. 09-3231
Updated July 2009

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.
Resources:
http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/smell-impaired/overview.html
http://www.righthealth.com/topic/Disorders_Smell/overview/healthocrates20?fdid=healthocrates_a1e23a7936222b32cbffcf28f010c155
http://www.medicinenet.com/smell_disorders/article.htm
http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/sym/smell_symptoms.htm#intro

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anosmia

Categories
Featured News on Health & Science

The Smell Secrets

Smells can be mapped and the relative distance between various odors determined:

……...CLICK & SEE

Odors waft up the nasal cavity to a patch of nerve cells above the eyes. From there, scent signals go to the olfactory bulb, higher brain areas involved in discrimination (frontal lobe), and primitive areas linked to emotions (limbic system).

Nearly 25 years ago, US physician and writer Lewis Thomas famously said of the sense of smell: “It may not seem a profound enough problem to dominate all the life sciences, but it contains, piece by piece, all the mysteries.” In humans, the olfactory sense can elicit vivid memories as much as it can evoke the imagination. But for most animals, smell is the primal sense that enables them to find food, detect predators and locate mates. From fruit flies to humans, one question has long puzzled researchers: how does the brain know what the nose is smelling?

A few years ago, US researcher Richard Axel and his student Lind Buck resolved this puzzle and won the 2004 Nobel Prize. In less than four years since, a team of Israeli scientists has shown that smells can be mapped and the relative distance between various odours determined.

The work which lays down the basic laws underlying our sense of smell has appeared in a recent issue of the journal Nature Methods. “This looks like an interesting attempt to classify odourants in relation to function. There is a need for being able to make such predictions with respect to odourants,” says Gaiti Hasan, a scientist at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, who works on the science of smell.

Unlike in smell, the physical attributes of vision and sound can be measured. For instance, one can easily know whether a particular musical note is different from another, because the ear can comprehend the difference in their frequencies. But no such physical relationship has been discovered for smells, partly because odour molecules are much more difficult to pin down than sound frequencies.

In order to create the map, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science, led by neurobiologist Noam Sobel, began working with 250 odourants. For each of these odourants, the scientists generated a list of around 1,600 chemical characteristics. Plotting these characteristics, they created a multi-dimensional map of smells that revealed the distance between one odour molecule and another.

Persistent research over the years, however, has helped the Israeli scientists tighten the list of traits needed to locate an odour on the map down to around 40. Subsequently, they checked to see whether the brain recognised this map as it recognises musical scales. Working with fruit flies to rats to honey bees, they studied the neural response patterns to smells and found that in all these species the closer any two smells were on the map, the more similar were the neural patterns.

Subsequently, the scientists tested 70 new smells by predicting the neural patterns that they would arouse. They later matched their predictions with experiments carried out at the University of Tokyo and found that their predictions closely matched the results of the experiments.

These findings lent support to the theory that, contrary to the commonly held view that smell is a subjective experience, there are universal laws governing the organisation of smells. These laws determine how our brain perceives them, says Sobel.

If the parameters they use to classify the odours are relatively simple, this is a significant achievement, Hasan told KnowHow. Hasan thinks such a map will help predict what the brain’s response to an unknown odourant would be.

In the past, scientists had tried to develop a method to measure smell. The method was rather crude and was based on the number of carbon atoms present in a particular compound. It failed miserably as scientists found that two compounds that have a similar chemical structure and differ by just one carbon atom elicited very different responses in the olfactory sensory neurons, the workhorse of the nose in detecting smells.

The smell map may be of potential interest to industry. For instance, characterising a smell on the basis of how the brain recognises it can enable it to be digitised and transferred via the computer in future. This could, for example, help the perfume industry develop superior perfumes.

You may click to see:->Secrets of smell land Nobel Prize

> Researchers Sniff Out Secrets of Smell

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Taste Disorders

Definition:
We experience taste when a substance contacts one of four taste receptor cells for sweet, salt, bitter, or sour. The receptor cells are located in taste buds spread over the surface of the tongue and throat. Three different nerves allow us to taste, therefore it is very difficult to lose all sense of taste through a nerve injury. In addition, like the smell nerves, the taste receptor cells are replaceable and if damaged they can grow back. A decrease in ability to taste is called hypogeusia, and a total loss of taste is termed ageusia.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Click to learn:-> What is taste Description of the parts of the tongue.

Taste disorders like smell disorders can occur for many different reasons. Total loss of taste often indicates a disorder throughout the body such as due to toxicity, medications, or nutrition disorders. Decreased or abnormal taste can also occur from poor dentition or from cancer of the mouth.

Besides a detailed history and head and neck exam, evaluation by an otolaryngologist for smell and taste disorders may add smell and taste testing. Testing of smell function often includes taking a “scratch and sniff” odor identification test matching a smell with a list of odors. Taste function can be tested by applying four different solutions (sweet, salt, bitter, and sour) to four different regions of the tongue. Additional evaluation may include a CT scan and/or an MRI of the brain and sinuses.

If you experience a taste problem, it is important to remember that you are not alone. More than 200,000 people visit a physician for such a chemosensory problem each year. Many more taste disorders go unreported.

Many people who have taste disorders also notice problems with their sense of smell. If you would like more information about your sense of smell, the fact sheet Smell Disorders may answer some of your questions.

How does our sense of taste work?

Taste belongs to our chemical sensing system, or the chemosenses. The complex process of tasting begins when tiny molecules released by the substances around us stimulate special cells in the nose, mouth, or throat. These special sensory cells transmit messages through nerves to the brain, where specific tastes are identified

Click to learn more:->Smell and Taste Disorders

Gustatory or taste cells react to food and beverages. These surface cells in the mouth send taste information to their nerve fibers. The taste cells are clustered in the taste buds of the mouth, tongue, and throat. Many of the small bumps that can be seen on the tongue contain taste buds.

Another chemosensory mechanism, called the common chemical sense, contributes to appreciation of food flavor. In this system, thousands of nerve endings–especially on the moist surfaces of the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat–give rise to sensations like the sting of ammonia, the coolness of menthol, and the irritation of chili peppers.

We can commonly identify at least five different taste sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (the taste elicited by glutamate, which is found in chicken broth, meat extracts, and some cheeses). In the mouth, these tastes, along with texture, temperature, and the sensations from the common chemical sense, combine with odors to produce a perception of flavor. It is flavor that lets us know whether we are eating a pear or an apple. Some people are surprised to learn that flavors are recognized mainly through the sense of smell. If you hold your nose while eating chocolate, for example, you will have trouble identifying the chocolate flavor–even though you can distinguish the food’s sweetness or bitterness. That is because the distinguishing characteristic of chocolate, for example, what differentiates it from caramel, is sensed largely by its odor.

What are the taste disorders?

The most common true taste complaint is phantom taste perceptions. Additionally, testing may demonstrate a reduced ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami, which is called hypogeusia. Some people can detect no tastes, called ageusia. True taste loss is rare; perceived loss usually reflects a smell loss, which is often confused with a taste loss.

Click to learn more about :->Test Disorders

In other disorders of the chemical senses, the system may misread and or distort an odor, a taste, or a flavor. Or a person may detect a foul taste from a substance that is normally pleasant tasting.

Symptoms – Taste disorders are often temporary. Alteration in taste varies depending upon the disease, period of suffering, treatment and drugs. For example:

  • In gout – uric acid diathesis/metabolism – salty taste

  • In infection (bacterial) – metallic taste

  • In fever (viral flu) – bitter taste

  • In gastritis/heartburn – sour taste

  • In toxicity – metallic taste

What causes taste disorders?

Some people are born with chemosensory disorders, but most develop them after an injury or illness. Upper respiratory infections are blamed for some chemosensory losses, and injury to the head can also cause taste problems.

Loss of taste can also be caused by exposure to certain chemicals such as insecticides and by some medicines. Taste disorders may result from oral health problems and some surgeries (e.g. third molar extraction and middle ear surgery). Many patients who receive radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck develop chemosensory disorders.

How are taste disorders diagnosed?

The extent of a chemosensory disorder can be determined by measuring the lowest concentration of a chemical that a person can detect or recognize. A patient may also be asked to compare the tastes of different chemicals or to note how the intensity of a taste grows when a chemical’s concentration is increased.

Scientists have developed taste testing in which the patient responds to different chemical concentrations. This may involve a simple “sip, spit, and rinse” test, or chemicals may be applied directly to specific areas of the tongue.

Click to learn more :->How are taste and smell disorders diagnosed?

Are taste disorders serious?

Yes. A person with a taste disorder is challenged not only by quality-of-life issues, but also deprived of an early warning system that most of us take for granted. Taste helps us detect spoiled food or beverages and, for some, the presence of food to which we’re allergic. Perhaps more serious, loss of the sense of taste can also lead to depression and a reduced desire to eat.

Abnormalities in chemosensory function may accompany and even signal the existence of several diseases or unhealthy conditions, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, malnutrition, and some degenerative diseases of the nervous system such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Korsakoff’s psychosis.

Complication:

  • Disgust for food/life

  • Malnutrition

  • Depression

Can taste disorders be treated?

Yes. If a certain medication is the cause of a taste disorder, stopping or changing the medicine may help eliminate the problem. Some patients, notably those with respiratory infections or allergies, regain their sense of taste when the illness resolves. Often the correction of a general medical problem can also correct the loss of taste. Occasionally, recovery of the chemosenses occurs spontaneously.

General treatment – Treatment usually depends upon the cause and nature of the disease(s). Getting normalcy will be aimed mostly at removing the exciting or maintaining causes, i.e. by

  • Correcting anaemia,allergies dental problems, uric acid diathesis, etc.

  • Treating mouth ulcers, infections (bacterial / viral / fungal), digestive or acid reflux disorders, etc.

  • Changing or stopping newly added medicines (antibiotics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, pain-killers, etc.)

Commonly, if there is no serious illness, physicians will simply prescribe vitamin supplements and till taste recovers on its own (i.e., without providing any specific treatment).

Homeopathic approach on taste disorders – In all other system of medicines, the recovery of taste will come in the end i.e., after stopping the treatment process/medicines. Also, sometimes they need to leave the taste to come up on its own. Whereas while getting Homeopathy treatment, patients’ feelings and sensations get improved first. Well being sensations will always be the first improvement with successful treatment of Homeopathy. Homeopathy concentrates on each and every aspect of patient feelings and restores them to normal first (prior to setting right the disease). It works in all ways to raise immunity. For raising immunity/strengthen vitality, it enhances good intake of diet (by making the taste good). Thus here is another example to show Homeopathy is on the right track towards nature.

Some feel the distorted taste without any diseases or sufferings (with unknown or idiopathic causes) and some other suffers with incurable diseases. Here too, Homeopathy can succeed in correcting the taste with its individualisation treatment with characteristic symptoms of patient and disease with tongue indications and taste characters.

To spice up taste, Homeopathy can work amazingly. There are specific medicines for specific feelings of taste in Homeopathy, likewise for cravings and aversions too. They will act at the core of the disease and clear the tongue problems simultaneously.

For example:

  • Diminished taste – Borax, Carboveg, Cyclamen, Puls, Veratrum alb,

  • Complete loss of taste – Stramonium

  • Abnormal taste of foods (or water) – sweetish – Cuprum met, Merc sol, Veratrum Alb, etc.

  • Sweet metallic taste in mouth/tongue – Cocculus, Merc sol, etc.

  • Salty taste in mouth/tongue – Cyclamen, Iodium, Merc sol, Nat mur, etc.

  • Sour taste –Calc carb, China, Lycopodium, Nux vom, Rhus tox, Sulphur, etc.

  • Bitter taste – Borax, Bryonia, Carbo veg, China, Lachesis, Nat mur, Pulsatilla, Rhus tox, Stramonium, Sulphur, etc.

  • Soapy taste – Iodium

  • Bloody taste – Bovista & Kreosote

  • Coppery taste – Medorrhinum

  • Taste remains in tongue for a long time after eating – Hydrastis

  • Taste of rotten eggs – Cuprum met, Merc sol, Pulsatilla

  • Oily/greasy taste in tongue/mouth – Causticum, Rhus tox, Secale cor

  • Feeling numbness/tingling sensation in tongue – Aconite, Causticum, Coninum, Gelsemium, Nux vom, Nat mur, Secale cor, etc.

  • Burning tongue – Apis, Ars alb, Arum triphyllum, Baptisia, Belladonna, Beri Beri vul, Capsicum, Causticum, etc.

  • Sensation of hair in tongue – Kali bich, Alumina, Nat mur, etc.

  • Frothy saliva in mouth – Stramonium

These medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a Qualified Homeopath.

What research is being done?

The NIDCD supports basic and clinical investigations of chemosensory disorders at institutions across the Nation. Some of these studies are conducted at several chemosensory research centers, where scientists work together to unravel the secrets of taste disorders.

Some of the most recent research on our sense of taste focuses on identifying the key receptors in our taste cells and how they work in order to form a more complete understanding of the gustatory system, particularly how the protein mechanisms in G-protein-coupled receptors work. Advances in this area may have great practical uses, such as the creation of medicines and artificial food products that allow older adults with taste disorders to enjoy food again. Future research may examine how tastes change in both humans and animals. Some of this research will focus on adaptive taste changes over long periods in different animal species, while other research will examine why we accept or have an aversion to different tastes. Beyond this, scientists feel future gustatory research may also investigate how taste affects various processing activities in the brain. Specifically, how taste interacts with memory, influences hormonal feedback systems, and its role in the eating decisions and behavior.

Already, remarkable progress has been made in establishing the nature of changes that occur in taste senses with age. It is now known that age takes a much greater toll on smell than on taste. Also, taste cells (along with smell cells) are the only sensory cells that are regularly replaced throughout a person’s life span–taste cells usually last about 10 days. Scientists are examining these phenomena which may provide ways to replace damaged sensory and nerve cells.

NIDCD’s research program goals for chemosensory sciences include

* Promoting the regeneration of sensory and nerve cells
* Appreciating the effects of the environment (such as gasoline fumes, chemicals, and extremes of relative humidity and temperature) on taste.
* Preventing the effects of aging.
* Preventing infectious agents and toxins from reaching the brain through the olfactory nerve.
* Developing new diagnostic tests.
* Understanding associations between chemosensory disorders and altered food intake in aging as well as in various chronic illnesses.
* Improving treatment methods and rehabilitation strategies.

What can I do to help myself?

Proper diagnosis by a trained professional, such as an otolaryngologist, is important. These physicians specialize in disorders of the head and neck, especially those related to the ear, nose, and throat. Diagnosis may lead to treatment of the underlying cause of the disorder. Many types of taste disorders are curable, and for those that are not, counseling is available to help patients cope.

Where can I find more information?

NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information on taste disorders. Please see the list of organizations at www.nidcd.nih.gov/directory.

Use the following subject area to help you search for organizations that are relevant to taste disorders:

* Smell and Taste

For more information, additional addresses and phone numbers, or a printed list of organizations, contact:

NIDCD Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20892-3456
Toll-free Voice: (800) 241-1044
Toll-free TTY: (800) 241-1055
Fax: (301) 770-8977
E-mail: nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov

For more information, contact the NIDCD Information Clearinghouse.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/smelltaste/taste.asp
http://www.meei.harvard.edu/patient/tasteandsmell.php
http://chennaionline.com/health/Homoeopathy/Aug2007/08homeo133.asp