Stellate ganglion block: AbScent update

As many of you may know, Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) has been circulating on social media as a potential cure for parosmia for some time now. However, it is important to provide clarity on how this treatment became so popular and what may be happening – so we wanted to provide an update on AbScent’s position.

At AbScent, we value scientifically rigorous and trustworthy information for both patients and clinicians. Therefore, we adhere to the guidelines used by doctors and will only endorse treatments based on evidence published in reputable scientific journals and that have undergone peer-review. Though the peer-review process may be time-consuming, it is indicative of the careful consideration taken to ensure that the information presented in these papers is of high quality.

SGB is a practice commonly used for several conditions involving the sympathetic and sensory nervous systems system, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This intervention appears to break the cycle of anxiety in some cases. While there have been several published papers on SGB and PTSD, among other conditions, there have been no reliable studies on its usefulness for parosmia, aside from some case reports. Such anecdotal evidence may indicate that this treatment should be considered in a double-blind trial.

As anyone who has followed the parosmia story knows, anxiety is a significant issue in severe cases. Based on conversations in our forums, we understand that a certain percentage of those with parosmia can experience high levels of disgust, which can greatly impact their well-being. This anxiety can lead to repetitive thoughts about the condition, fear of the future, social anxiety, and more.

SGB may offer an opportunity to break this cycle, and therefore, make people feel better. However, it is important to note that this effect may be due to the treatment’s impact on anxiety rather than the direct effect on the olfactory pathway, which in no way devalues it in the holistic sense.

One may wonder why so many people are talking about SGB and why there are many reports of cures. Like many other ‘cures’, these solutions surface on the internet as people look for anything that may help. We also know that recovery from parosmia is unpredictable and chaotic. A single report, such as one seen on TikTok, does not provide evidence that a treatment is effective but instead reflects the experience of one person on one day. 

Unfortunately, this has driven thousands of people to try an unverified treatment that may cost a lot of money.

In summary, AbScent believes that:

  • SGB may be helpful for anxiety
  • SGB has not been scientifically studied for parosmia, although it has been trialled in smaller studies for symptoms of Long Covid
  • SGB has not been shown to affect the olfactory system directly
  • AbScent will be monitoring and weighing up the evidence for SGB

Like many of you, we’re really interested to see where the studies take us and will be sharing any results as soon as they’ve been rigorously tested.

April 17, 2023

Posted in Treatments.