Steve’s SCD Healing Journal: Week 15 – Why Can’t I Smell?

by Steven Wright

Co-Founder of SCD Lifestyle Steve Wright has finally broken down and started his path to intestinal healing.  After many years of undiagnosed digestive warfare in his body, these series of weekly posts will take you through his experiences, thoughts, and struggles on the SCD diet.  Check back and follow his progress:

Week 15 Summary

This last week was pretty much an extension of the previous week’s symptoms.  I didn’t have a bowel movement for around 3 1/2 days and was starting to get pretty uncomfortable so I went out and got some prune juice.  I drank about 8 oz on Wednesday night

and 8 oz on Thursday morning and finally that afternoon the pipes started working again.  After that, I continued to drink about 8 oz a day throughout the weekend and was back to averaging one bowel movement a day.  Although I was able to shake the C, my BM’s were only of about 2 quality on the Bristol stool chart.  I also had more gas than I have had since starting the diet back in January.  I have had smelly loud gas all day everyday for about 10 days now.  I really hope that whatever is going on in there leads to the good guys starting to win the battle.

As Carol pointed out in the comments section last week, I may be experiencing the infamous 3 month setback referred to by Elaine in BTVC where she states, “At about the second or third month, there is sometimes a relapse even when the diet has been carefully followed.  This can occur if the person develops a respiratory infection or for no obvious reason.”

I’m going to continue to stay on my course with the diet this coming week and see if anything changes.  If this truly is the 3 month setback, then hopefully I will start seeing some improvements this week.  I still have enough yogurt to make it a couple more days but I’m going to do as Carol suggested and switch back to goat’s milk and see if anything changes.  Beyond that, I have stopped taking the prune juice for now and I don’t plan to use it again unless the C returns.

Is Low Zinc the Reason I Can’t Smell?

If you haven’t been following along, I have had problems over the last couple years not being able to smell.  Normally my smelling ability suffers the most during the winter but even during the summer I usually have a hard time smelling my deodorant unless its right under my nose.  Along with my asthma I am hoping that sorting out my digestive issues might once again allow me to smell.

Going forward and for ease of this post I would like to define a smelling scale.  Let’s say, for instance, that it’s a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being I can’t smell my deodorant even if I put it under my noise and 10 being a whole day of experiencing new different smells (yes it’s like smelling something for the first time again when this happens).  Before I started the SCD diet I was probably fluctuating between a 1-3 on most days.   I’ve been on the diet now for 100 days and it has started getting better.  I seem to have my good days when I might be a 7 or 8 only to return to a 3 or 4 the next day.  Some days I can smell in the morning but not at night and vice-verse.  Lately, spurred by Anna’s comments and my love of spring smells, I’ve been doing more research in this area.

I came across some research that tied zinc levels to a loss of taste and smell (among other symptoms).  This was really interesting, I figured with all the vitamins that I take there would be no way that I was actually zinc deficient.  I cross referenced some of the zinc deficiency symptoms found on the web and it turned out I was displaying several of them.  Next, I wondered how I would go about getting tested.  That’s when I found out that you can perform a fairly simple zinc taste test at home to check your levels.  It involves putting a diluted zinc solution in your mouth and timing how long it takes you to experience a change in taste.

Originally, I was going to go all out and make my own solution, however upon more research I realized I would need to buy a bunch of unneeded sterilized equipment to make it happen.  Then I came across some other zinc tally solutions to perform the test with.  I found zinc tally taste tests from two respectable manufactures, Metagenics and Thorne, I couldn’t figure out how to get my hands on the Metagenics version so I went with Thorne.

When I received the bottle in the middle of last week, I pulled up some directions on Thorne’s website for doing the test.  The Thorne

Could Zinc Be the Reason Behind it All?

solution is diluted compared to the normal strength of zinc tally solutions, therefore they direct the user to hold the liquid in their mouths for 30 seconds instead of a normal time of 10 seconds.  The first time I did the test I think I tested between a 3 and 4 on the scale of deficiency (with 4 being completely deficient), I made it about 26 seconds before I started noticing a sweet taste.  I repeated the test right after just to make sure I wasn’t still sleeping and it took like 15 seconds before I noticed anything.  I then did the test for the next 3 days every morning and was always between 22 and 26 seconds.

Based on the results of my home tests, I went out and bought some 50mg zinc tablets.  According to many different sources that I’ve read it appears that 200mg is the upper limit of daily zinc to avoid side affects from zinc supplementation like acute stomach discomfort (there doesn’t appear to be any long-term side effects other than a possible need to supplement with copper).  Based on that, I’m going to slowly increase my dosage each week from 50 mg to 100 mg and then topping out at 150mg  daily.  I will continue to do the zinc taste test each Monday to see how my zinc levels are progressing.  From what I’ve read, I’m guessing it will take take 3 to 5 weeks to replenish my zinc stores.

Wrapping it Up

I plan to do a more detailed post later this week on zinc and the deficiency symptoms, however, if you’re currently experiencing any loss of taste or smell you owe to yourself to check out your zinc levels.  I paid $11  shipped to get the Thorne bottle to test mine, much less than a doctor visit co-pay will run you.  As far as this setback, I’m just going to keep my nose to the grind stone and see what happens.

Just out of curiosity how many others experienced the 3 month setback?

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About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Frilegh May 5, 2010 at 9:57 am

Oh Steve,
We are cellmates, or smell mates. I had a one month sinus infection, expelled a monster polyp and now cannot smell or taste beyond sweet or salty. Thankfully SCD food still feels good and has substance and texture.

A Neti Pot is very helpful. I flush out my sinuses each morning while praying somewhere in the nasal recesses is a sense of taste gathering strength and ready to return. Use the solution that comes with the pot rather than a homemade mixture.I am also using a compounded SCD compliant form of Benadryl to protect against a very aggressive pollen season in the Northeast this spring. and use sterile boiled or distilled water.

If people accuse us of being in bad taste, they are right!

Reply

Steven Wright May 6, 2010 at 9:52 am

Carol – SCD food does have interesting textures! Hopefully you will regain some more smelling abilities soon. I agree Neti Pot’s are a huge help, I’ve been using one since last fall every morning. Here in the Midwest seasonal allergies are on the rise and my allergies are flaring so I might start doing it at night too. It would interesting to see if your zinc levels were low as well. I wonder how many others doing the SCD diet have a hard time smelling?

Reply

Anna May 10, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Interesting, I hadn’t thought of a vitamin deficiency. The weather here in West is fluctuating, as is my drippy nose and sense of smell.

Reply

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