This Mom’s Unusual Recipe Helped Her Son Regain His Sense of Taste After COVID-19

Leave it to TikTok to come to the rescue.

The pandemic has changed the way we grocery shop, dine out and cook at home. While COVID-19 is hard to deal with, even those who’ve had it and gotten better are still plagued with lingering symptoms like a frustrating lack of taste and smell.

This condition is called anosmia, and traditional medicine doesn’t really have methods to treat it. That’s why you see a lot of alternative solutions being shared on platforms like TikTok. One of the most popular hacks has racked up 3.8M likes since it was first posted in December. And it all starts with an ordinary orange!

What Do I Have to Do?

The TikTok creator, Kemar Gary Lalor, told Totally the Bomb that this Jamaican remedy is from his mom. It worked for her—and for Kemar, too. You’ll need an orange, brown sugar and a gas stove.

@toosmxllHow to get taste buds back!!! #howto #tastebud #lifehacks #health #fyp #remedy

♬ Steven Universe – L.Dre


To start, burn the orange peel until it’s charred and black all over. Then, use a knife to remove all of the blackened orange peel. All that should be left is the fruit itself. You then mash up the hot orange in a small bowl or cup and stir in a few teaspoons of brown sugar. That’s it!

You eat the mashed orange and, supposedly, your sense of taste and smell will come back.

Why Does This Work?

The burnt orange trick is an example of olfactory training, which typically involves inhaling a strong scent like mint, cinnamon or—in this case—citrus, and concentrating to remember the smell. UK-based surgeon Karan Rajan made a TikTok of his own explaining the concept and why it might work.

@dr.karanr#stitch with @toosmxll oranges to the rescue? #fruit #orange #learnontiktok #schoolwithdrkaran

♬ Steven Universe – L.Dre

There are no guarantees, though, and many skeptics have questioned the efficacy of the burnt orange hack. Even so, you’re only out an orange and a little time, if you want to test it yourself.

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Krista Garcia
Writer, blogger, content creator. I specialize in food and travel, plus digital commerce and the retail industry. Based in Portland, Oregon after a very long time spent in NYC.