The loss of the sense of smell is a symptom of COVID-19. Many who recover from the virus wait months before their ability to smell returns – and many others are still waiting. (Related: Yes, it's REAL: Coronavirus patients are losing their sense of smell and taste – and aren't getting them back.)
This is why Phillips began promoting a "fragrance journey" in her custom perfumery in New York City's Upper East Side neighborhood. The store, which she has owned for over 12 years, launched the "scent therapy healing program" earlier this year.
For $650, Phillips' clients can get one meeting with her and a custom fragrance to take home.
During this meeting, her clients will go through many different scents such as vanilla, musk, lavender and amber. These scents are divided between three types of scents – top notes, or lighter fragrances; medium notes, such as fruity or floral scents; and base notes like vanilla.
The clients will go through these individually with the use of scented strips to help arouse their sense of smell. She explained that this process was like exercise for the brain.
The fragrance expert claims her "fragrance journey" program has helped over 20 people regain at least some of their sense of smell since it began.
Phillips got the idea for her "fragrance journey" program last year when a friend sent Lyss Stern, a COVID-19 survivor, to her shop. Stern lost her sense of smell in March 2020 and never got it back.
"I said to her, 'Look, I'm not a doctor, and I'm not a chemist, but I know the extraordinary powers of fragrance,'" said Phillips during an interview with celebrity news magazine People. Phillips took Stern through the fragrance journey, and by the time the latter got to the base notes, her dormant sense of smell started waking up.
"She couldn't really smell the top notes, she couldn't really identify the middle notes, but then [when she got to the base notes] suddenly there was a flicker in her eye, and she said, 'I can smell something. I don't know what it is, but I can smell something.'"
Phillips said Stern started crying when she realized she could smell the vanilla and amber scents on the strips.
"She texted me about three hours later and said, "I cannot believe what you just did, for the first time I'm smelling my candles, I'm smelling restaurants, I'm smelling food. I have not been able to do this,'" recalled Phillips. "It was like the fog had lifted and she could smell."
Stern isn't the only one who had her sense of smell reawakened by Phillips' "fragrance journey." According to the perfumer, 20 people have regained at least some of their sense of smell since the program began.
Tammy Farrell, 51, lost her sense of smell in March 2020 when she contracted the coronavirus. After she recovered, she was devastated to learn that her ability to smell didn't come back. She kept waiting for her nose to suddenly reawaken. She tried all kinds of tricks, including sniffing garlic powder and regularly walking past fragrant bakeries, but nothing worked.
She sought out the help of multiple neurologists, who performed brain scans and blood tests on her. All these tests came back normal, and they couldn't pinpoint the problem.
"I couldn't smell anything, and no one knew why. You just can't help but cry. I couldn't smell my favorite candles or my husband's cologne. I couldn't enjoy eating – it just became fuel for my body, not pleasure."
Farrell was motivated to seek alternatives when her daughter alerted her to the smell of gas coming from her basement that Farrell could not smell. "When you can't smell gasoline leaks, it's a huge problem," she said. "I didn't have any more options."
On Thursday, April 22, Farrell went to Phillips' store to go through her "fragrance journey." After just one hour-long session, she could smell again.
"A piece of my life was missing, and I'm elated that something dormant for more than a year is triggered," she said. "Now [my sense of smell] is on full blast."
Farrell's sense of smell is still recovering. She was able to detect pepper in her dinner and she was able to smell garlic, albeit faintly. But she still can't smell many other scents, like bacon or popcorn. Despite this, she is committed to regaining her full sense of smell back, which is why she's following the "homework" Phillips gave her – to smell different fragrances with a "meditation-like focus."
Phillips said seeing clients get to the point where their sense of smell begins to reawaken makes what she does worth it.
"This for me, this is what I live for," said Phillips.
"When people can't smell and they can't taste, they can't enjoy their food and they don't want to socialize. The net result is that people retract from society," she added. "The fact that I'm able to help them rediscover their sense of smell and get back to enjoying things is such a joy. I'm so happy that I've been able to help people."
Learn more about the many alternative treatments to coronavirus symptoms by reading the latest articles at AlternativeMedicine.news.