Open Accessibility Menu

Baton Rouge Physician Published in National Medical Journal, Launches At-Home Taste Sensitivity Kit

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General

BATON ROUGE, La. – A study conducted by rhinologist Dr. Henry Barham at Baton Rouge General was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a peer-reviewed medical journal renowned internationally. Results from the study show a connection between a person’s ability to perceive certain bitter stimulants and the symptoms and severity of their COVID-19 infection. The study spurred the development of an at-home taste sensitivity kit, called Phenomune, which has hit the national consumer market.

As reported in December, the study’s results carry important implications, like identifying those at high risk for hospitalization from COVID, which may affect some people’s decision on whether or not to be vaccinated.

“Like the rest of the world, I had interest in why certain people contracted the virus and other didn’t despite seemingly high exposure to it,” said Dr. Barham. “We intentionally studied hospital workers with known increased exposure to COVID. The questions we set out to answer were who can get it and how severe would their symptoms be.”

During the study, an early prototype of the taste test was used, but researchers have now designed an accurate, inexpensive taste test that can be used at home. After a short questionnaire and applying the taste strips to the tongue, simply submit your quality and intensity ratings (for example, bitter or sweet and on a scale of 1-10). You’ll receive digital results instantly, along with detailed information about what it means. If you have a low expression of your bitter taste receptors, Phenomune will supply ways for you to stimulate those receptors and then re-test.

Dr. Barham and his team conducted the study from July-September, through their outpatient practice, Sinus and Nasal Specialists of Louisiana, and BRG’s Bluebonnet hospital, where the practice is located.

A key finding of the study is that people classified as “non-tasters” were significantly more likely to be hospitalized once infected. On the other hand, none of the participants considered “super-tasters” were hospitalized when infected with COVID. Non-tasters were significantly more likely to experience symptoms for a longer period of time – an average of 23 days -- compared to just five days for super-tasters. And, non-tasters were significantly more likely to test positive for COVID-19.

About Baton Rouge General Medical Center
Baton Rouge General Medical Center is the area’s first community hospital with over 600 licensed beds between three campuses. Baton Rouge General opened its doors in 1900, and has provided the Greater Baton Rouge community with high-quality healthcare for generations. An accredited teaching hospital since 1991, Baton Rouge General is affiliated with several medical school programs, and offers other medical education programs, including a School of Nursing, School of Radiologic Technology, Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter @BRGeneral and Instagram @batonrougegeneral.