In the plant world, the name bergamot is synonymous with an herb in the mint family and a variety of citrus tree.
However, bergamot essential oil comes from the fruit and peel of the bergamot orange called Citrus bergamia. It is a unique citrus fruit characterized as a hybrid between a lemon and sour orange, or a mutated lemon. Whatever it is, bergamot oil sure does improve your health in a variety of special ways.
For instance, bergamot essential oil builds confidence, enhances mood, relieves stress, and treats anxiety and depression. In traditional Chinese medicine, bergamot is used for helping the flow of vital energy, which helps with proper digestion. Bergamot oil also fights cancer, reduces pain, treats infections, heals skin, protects against tetanus, treats cold symptoms, kills intestinal worms, and more.
Read on to learn more about bergamot essential oil, its many health benefits, and also how best to use it.
What Is Bergamot Essential Oil?
The tree bearing edible bergamot orange tastes somewhat like a lemon and grapefruit, while it grows mostly in the Mediterranean climate. Bergamot orange also belongs to the Rutaceae plant family.
Although the history of bergamot oil can be traced back to Southeast Asia, it was more widely grown in Southern Italy, or specifically in the coastal regions of Sicily and Reggio di Calabria. Bergamot oil was even named after the place it was originally sold—the city of Bergamo in Lombardy, Italy. It is also produced in Argentina, Turkey, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, and Brazil.
Bergamot oil is taken from the peel of bergamot orange. It is made through the process of cold compression, which is different than the process used to make many other essential oils called steam distillation. Interestingly, it takes 100 bergamot oranges to yield only around 3 ounces of essential oil.
Bergamot essential oil has a light yellow-green color. It is often found in perfumes since it can help enhance the fragrance and balance the aroma of the formulation. The essential oil is also used as a food-flavoring agent, especially Turkish delight and Earl Grey tea.
Health Benefits of Bergamot Essential Oil
What are the health benefits of bergamot essential oil? It is high in polyphenolic compounds, and is the only citrus fruit with brutieridin and melitidin—the same compounds proven to have a comparable anti-cholesterol effect as statins. Other active components of bergamot oil include alpha-pinene, alpha-bergapten, myrcene, limonene, nerol, geraniol, beta-bisabolene, alpha-terpineol, linalyl acetate, neryl acetate, geraniol acetate, and linalool.
As a result, bergamot essential oil has potent analgesic, antiseptic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, antibiotic, vermifuge, vulnerary, sedative, disinfectant, febrifuge, antidepressant, cicatrizant, anti-inflammatory, and soothing effects. So, it is not a surprise that there are many bergamot essential oil benefits, including aiding digestion, relieving muscle and joint pain, releasing emotional pain, relieving stress, and treating cold symptoms. Italians once used bergamot oil for intestinal worms and fevers.
The following is further detail about nine of the top health benefits of bergamot essential oil.
1. Fights Cancer
A study published in the journal Colloids and Surfaces in 2013 explained that citrus extracts, especially bergamot oil, exhibit anti-cancer properties; however, the low stability, limited bioavailability, and poor water solubility had prevented the use of bergamot oil in cancer treatment.
To overcome these drawbacks, researchers formulated bergamot essential oil liposomes, or artificially-prepared doses, which improves the water solubility of the natural chemical compounds to help increase the anti-cancer activity against human cancer cells for in vitro studies. Although further research is needed, the results prove that bergamot oil may have potential as a cancer treatment.
2. Treats Depression and Anxiety
Natural remedies like bergamot oil can help get to the root cause of depressive symptoms, including a sad mood, fatigue, lack of appetite, low sex drive, and feelings of helplessness. The components in bergamot oil help create feelings of joy by improving circulation in the blood.
A study published in the journal Natural Product Communications in 2011 demonstrated that the relaxing effect of a bergamot and lavender oil blend, and therefore supports the hypothesis that combining the essential oils can help treat depression and anxiety. The essential oil blend caused significant reductions in pulse rate and blood pressure. The subjects also said they were more calm and relaxed than the participants in the control group.
3. Relieves Stress
As a relaxant, bergamot oil reduces nervous tension and feelings of anxiety and stress. It does so by stimulating hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which creates feelings of relaxation and sedation. Studies show that inhalation of bergamot oil can lead to feelings of ease and contentment.
Relieve anxiety and stress simply by adding bergamot oil to an oil burner or diffuser.
4. Reduces Pain
Since bergamot oil increases hormone secretions, it reduces the sensitivity of nerves that lead to pain. As a result, bergamot essential oil is great for symptom reduction of muscle aches, headaches, and sprains. Rather than relying on painkillers, bergamot oil is a safe alternative for relieving tension and pain.
A study published in the journal Fitoterapia in 2010 found that bergamot oil can be an effective complementary medicine for minimizing tension in the body.
5. Treats Infections
Bergamot essential oil is often found in skin soaps since it inhibits the growth of viruses, fungi, and germs. As a result, bergamot oil helps treat infections of the kidneys, intestines, urinary tract, and colon. When you apply the oil to the hair or skin, you also decrease the risk of infection.
To take advantage of bergamot oil, simply rub some of it onto your throat, feet, and abdomen, or consume Earl Grey tea.
6. Helps Digestion
Bergamot oil stimulates the production of digestive juices, which makes the breakdown of foods in the digestive tract a lot easier. Not just that, but bergamot oil stimulates muscle contractions in the intestines, and this speeds up the digestive process by moving waste through the intestines while the body absorbs nutrients.
Research published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology in 2006 suggests that bergamot oil is useful when fighting food poisoning due to its anti-bacterial properties.
To help ease digestive issues or regulate appetite, simply rub five drops of bergamot onto the stomach.
7. Tetanus Protection
Tetanus is a nerve ailment caused by the toxin of the bacterium Clostridium tetani. Since bergamot oil is a disinfectant and antiseptic, it can kill bacterium that lead to tetanus infections. The essential oil will also keep wounds from becoming dangerously infected, and can help protect from getting tetanus.
Add five drops of bergamot oil to a cotton ball, and gently rub in into the infected area.
8. Kills Intestinal Worms
Since bergamot essential oil kills germs, it is a great intestinal worm treatment. Intestinal worms cause malnourishment, and eventually anemia.
For killing infectious worms, rub two to three drops of bergamot on your hands, and into your abdomen.
9. Treats Cold Symptoms
Bergamot essential oil is an important remedy for treating cold symptoms since it can fight infections due to harmful bacteria. It reduces fevers and body temperature through alleviating stress and stimulating hormone secretion.
Bergamot oil is also an anti-congestive, and therefore it can relieve respiratory problems and cold symptoms, including congestion, coughing, and sneezing. The essential oil will loosen mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tract, while also eliminating germs and toxins developed while you have an illness.
Rub some bergamot essential oil on your chest and throat when you are sick.
How to Use Bergamot Essential Oil
There are many other excellent uses for bergamot essential oil. Like most oils, you can diffuse it, or inhale it directly from the bottle.
Similar to other oils, it is best to perform a skin patch test to a sensitive part of the body after you have diluted bergamot essential oil with a 1:1 ratio of carrier oils, like coconut or jojoba oil. Also, it is important to remember that not all essential oils are made equal, so it is always best to purchase a high-quality, 100% therapeutic-grade bergamot essential oil from a reputable company like doTERRA, Young Living, or Zayat Aroma.
Bergamot essential oil blends well with eucalyptus, cypress, geranium, lemon, lavender, and ylang ylang essential oils. You can also potentially substitute bergamot oil with tangerine, lemon, or wild orange essential oils.
The following are some specific ways you can implement bergamot essential oil into your life.
1. Pain Relief
For pain reduction, simply rub five drops of bergamot oil where you feel tension or on sore muscles.
Rub two to three drops of bergamot oil into your hands, cup your nose and mouth, and breathe in the oil slowly. You can also rub the oil on the stomach and feet for a similar relaxation and stress-relief effect.
Apply a couple of drops to the skin while showering, and inhale to experience calming benefits.
Add a couple of drops of bergamot oil to your hair conditioner or shampoo to hydrate your hair, especially if it is oily. As a result, your hair will be soft and healthy.
4. Natural Deodorant
The refreshing, citrusy smell of bergamot oil is perfect as a natural air freshener and deodorant. Add two to three drops of bergamot essential oil to your deodorant, or add the oil directly to your armpits.
You can also make your own fragrance, and combine bergamot oil with other great scents like sandalwood, cedarwood, and lemon oil.
5. Cavity Protection
Bergamot is great for teeth and fighting cavities, and you can also add to mouthwash. Add a drop of bergamot oil to your toothpaste, or rub a couple of drops on your teeth.
6. Skin Infections
Bergamot essential oil is used to reduce the look of scars, and other skin marks. The scars may result from acne, or skin irritations or infections.
For skin infections, add 10 drops of bergamot oil to warm bath water, or put five drops on a cotton ball and rub it on the infected area.
Bergamot Essential Oil Recipes
Here are a couple of bergamot essential oil recipes that are beneficial as well.
Relaxation Massage Blend Recipe
- 30 drops of bergamot essential oil
- 20 drops of vetiver essential oil
- 20 drops of cypress essential oil
- 10 drops of clary sage essential oil
- 20 drops of lavender essential oil
In a five-milliliter colored-glass dropper bottle, combine all essential oils. Close the cap tightly and vigorously blend the oils together. Let the blend sit for eight or more hours before using.
For a ready-to-use relaxation blend, add 15 to 30 drops of mixture to a 30-milliliter bottle of your favorite carrier oil, and shake well to disperse the oils thoroughly. Use the massage oil as a lubricant.
Stress and Anxiety Relief Bergamot Oil Blend Recipe
- 20 drops of bergamot essential oil
- 20 drops or orange essential oil
- 10 drops of vetiver essential oil
- 20 drops of ylang ylang essential oil
- 20 drops of German chamomile essential oil
- 10 drops of spikenard essential oil
In a five-milliliter colored-glass dropper bottle, combine all essential oils, Close the cap tightly and vigorously blend the oils together. Let the blend sit for eight or more hours before using.
Dispense one to three drops of the essential oil blend on a cotton ball, and inhale the aromatic vapors of the stress relief formula for 10 to 15 seconds. You may repeat as needed.
It is also an effective formula when you diffuse it into the air. For a ready-to-use anti-stress blend, add 15 to 30 drops of the blend to a 30-milliliter bottle of your favorite carrier oil, and shake it well to disperse the oils thoroughly. Add a few drops to sinus points around the nose, and on the forehead and back of the neck.
Possible Precautions of Bergamot Essential Oil
There are many health benefits of bergamot essential oil that make it one of the top oils in aromatherapy. In general, bergamot essential oil is safe for most people when applied topically or added to food in small amounts.
Although bergamot has been used for years, there have only been a few reports of a severe phototoxic skin reaction known to resemble an exaggerated sunburn. Since bergamot essential increases your sensitivity to sunlight, you may increase the chances of sunburn, rashes, or blistering on areas of skin exposure, when taking bergamot oil along with medications that also increase sensitivity to sunlight.
Avoid using bergamot oil with photosensitizing drugs, such norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, levofloxacin, and lomefloxacin. Since bergamot may make the skin sensitive to the sun, you are also more vulnerable to skin cancer, and skin problems like rashes, scabs, blisters, pigment spots, and cancerous changes.
It is also not a good idea for people with a potassium deficiency to take bergamot oil since it can deplete potassium stores in the body, and lead to twitching and muscle cramps. There have also been severe side effects in children taking high amounts of bergamot essential oil. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid bergamot oil due to its potential risks.
Bergamot essential oil may also reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, and therefore it may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low. People with diabetes using bergamot oil should monitor blood sugar levels on a regular basis. Also, stop using bergamot essential oil at least two weeks before you are scheduled for surgery since it may affect blood sugar levels during the operation.
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