A variety of citrus tree and an herb of the mint family are both known by the name bergamot, but the bergamot essential oil is extracted from the bergamot orange called Citrus bergamia. This small tree bearing edible fruit that fall somewhere between lemon and grapefruit in taste grows mainly in Mediterranean climate. It is named after the Italian city of Bergamo, the original place of bergamot oil trade.
The bergamot essential oil is cold pressed from the rind of the fruit, with about a hundred fruits yielding up to 3 ounces of oil. The sweet-smelling oil is widely used in perfumery as well as a food flavoring agent, particularly in Earl Grey Tea and Turkish delight.
Some of the active agents in bergamot oil are alpha pinene, limonene, alpha bergaptene, beta bisabolene, nerol, geraniol, linalool and alpha terpineol. Bergamot is rich in polyphenolic compounds, and has the distinction of being the only citrus fruit to contain melitidin and brutieridin proven to have an anti cholesterol effect comparable to statins.
1. Bergamot essential oil as an antidepressant
Bergamot oil has a long history of being used as an antidepressant, thanks to its ability to uplift moods and give an energy boost. The antidepressant effect is not superficial; there are a number of physiological processes involved, such as reducing mental and physical fatigue through improved circulation and hormonal secretions. Limonene and alpha pinene occurring in the essential oil are known to have a stimulating effect.
When typical symptoms of depression such as loss of appetite and interest in day to day activities, low interest in sex, and general fatigue appear, you can make use of bergamot oil and potentially avoid prescription antidepressants that have several side effects. It increases the metabolic rate and promotes the secretion of not only feel-good hormones but digestive juices as well. This improves appetite and energy flow.
For inhalation: Rub 2-3 drops Bergamot essential oil between the palms and hold it over the mouth and nostrils. Inhale deeply. You can apply a drop to your pulse points for a lasting effect. Bergamot can be used in diffusers at 50:50 dilutions with carrier oils like olive oil or coconut oil. Alternatively, add a few drops to the bath.
2. Relieves anxiety
Bergamot acts as a relaxant on the mind, relieving stress and anxiety. The flavonoids in the oil act on the glands, stimulating the production of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. They improve nerve function, besides producing a mild sedative effect that helps relax the body and mind.
When you have difficulty concentrating on tasks because of anxiety, or experience sleeplessness, a few drops of bergamot oil will change all that. Children preparing for important tests and adults making business decisions will have clarity of mind and good concentration when bergamot oil is used in the diffuser.
3. Use it to treat digestive problems
Bergamot oil has a manifold action on the digestive system. It promotes the secretion of digestive enzymes, including bile. They help improve digestion and the absorption of nutrients. A few drops of the essential oil rubbed on the stomach bring about this beneficial effect. It is particularly useful in children who refuse to eat citing lack of appetite.
Ingestion of a few drops of oil accelerates the peristaltic movement of the gastrointestinal tract, quickening the pace of food movement. This has a number of beneficial effects. For instance, it reduces the amount of time food particles remain in the colon, and promotes regularity. The longer food stays in the digestive tract, especially colon, the higher the risk of developing colon cancer. This is because of the toxic substances in the food waste that damage the intestinal wall.
4. Bergamot oil is an excellent vermifuge
Bergamot oil can be used to eradicate intestinal worms that cause anemia, especially in children. When young children have a sallow appearance, distended abdomen and complain of frequent stomachaches, they may have worms. Rub 2-3 drops of the oil on the abdomen.
Compared to other herbal remedies like castor oil, bergamot oil treatment is much more pleasant as well as gentle. For very young children, topical application of just one drop of oil on the abdomen may be sufficient.
5. Bergamot oil for hormonal balance
Bergamot oil seems to have a regulatory effect on the endocrine glands that produce various hormones. That includes insulin by the pancreatic cells and reproductive hormones by the ovaries. Many women who drink Earl Grey tea regularly have a marked reduction in hormonal problems associated with menstruation and menopause. It helps diabetics control their blood sugar levels.
6. For skin care
Bergamot oil is considered a cicatrizant, which can reduce scars and other blemishes on the skin. It is particularly useful in removing acne marks. The oil also acts on skin pigmentation, lightening dark spots by effecting even distribution of melamine.
You can use bergamot oil mixed with water as a face wash for oily skin. The grease-cutting action of the oil will remove excess oil from face, leaving it smooth and soft. Its antimicrobial action may help prevent acne. It is commercially used in many hygiene products, including soaps and shampoos.
7. To prevent infections in cuts and scrapes
Bergamot oil is a disinfectant with wide-ranging antimicrobial action, as mentioned above. Keep it handy to treat minor cuts and scrapes. It should be part of the medicine chest in every household, especially where there are young active children. The oil has a mild analgesic effect too, so children can be easily pacified when they come with their hurts.
You can wash the wound with a mixture of 10 drops bergamot oil in a quart of water and then apply a dressing with 1-2 drops of oil on a gauze pad. The strong antibiotic effect of bergamot makes it protective against even serious infections like tetanus.
One advantage of bergamot oil for wound dressing is that it promotes healing without ugly scars. The phytochemicals in the oil attract tissue repair components to the site of injury, facilitating faster healing too.
8. Bergamot oil for pain relief
The analgesic action of bergamot partly comes from its ability promote the secretions that reduce nerve sensitivity. This reduces the feeling of pain in the injured area. It also reduces stress and anxiety that magnifies any kind of pain.
Bergamot oil can be applied topically to relieve different types of painful conditions, from acute headaches to chronic arthritic pain. For joint pain and muscle ache, mix equal amounts of bergamot oil and a carrier oil, and rub the mixture into the painful area.
Bergamot oil is excellent for tension headaches and migraines because of its ability to reduce anxiety. You can apply one or two drops on the forehead and behind the ear. Also, use the oil in a diffuser and allow it to relax your mind and body.
9. To relieve chest congestion
If you’re sleep deprived due to nasal congestion, bergamot oil in a diffuser can give relief. Respiratory difficulties resulting from seasonal colds and coughs can be managed with stream inhalation using a few drops of bergamot oil in a vaporizer. It helps loosen the phlegm, making it easier to cough up. For children, rub 2-3 drops of the essential oil on their chest.
A tiny vial of bergamot oil can be kept in the wallet for daytime use. Take 1-2 drops in the palm of your hand and hold it over the nose whenever you have breathing difficulty. It will clear instantly. Adults can drink Earl Grey tea or an herbal tea with 1-2 drops of bergamot oil in it.
If you have severe chest congestion, mix 5 drops each of bergamot oil and eucalyptus oil in a diffuser. This combination gives best results, especially when you sleep at night.
10. To reduce a fever
The essential oil of bergamot has been shown to reduce fever by increasing sweat production. This is achieved by stimulating blood circulation and the production of hormones. When sweat evaporates on the skin, the temperature comes down. It also helps throw out toxins accumulated in the body.
Fever is not a disease in itself; it is a symptom of an underlying infection. The antimicrobial action of the bergamot oil may help fight the infection causing the fever, be it viral infections or bacterial infections. What’s more, it does all of these without introducing harmful chemicals into the body.
Apply a few drops of bergamot oil on the chest, forehead and back of the neck. You can also rub some on the palms of your hand and cup it over your nose and mouth. Draw in deep breaths to inhale the vapors.
11. Dental care
Bergamot oil can be used as a mouthwash to prevent bad breath. Its antimicrobial action keeps germ populations under control, while the pleasant, citrus smell provides freshness. Mix one or two drops of bergamot oil with your toothpaste or mix 2-3 drops in a cup of warm water and gargle.
Bergamot oil can even prevent cavities and reduce pain from existing ones. Apply a drop of bergamot oil to the affected tooth and rinse well.
12. Bergamot Essential Oil as deodorant
Bergamot oil has an enviable position in the perfume industry because of its sweet and pleasant aroma. One third of all male perfume products and half of female perfume products contain this essential oil in different proportions. When used on the skin as a deodorant, it helps control foul body odors by keeping the bacterial populations low. Its fresh, citrusy smell uplifts spirits and lets you move in the crowd with confidence.
Mix 2-3 drops of bergamot oil in a quart of warm water and use it as a body wash after a bath. You can keep the mixture in a spritz bottle, ready to use anytime. Add 2-3 drops of lavender oil to it for a more sophisticated deodorant.
13. As a room freshener
The strong, yet pleasant, citrusy smell of bergamot oil makes it an excellent room freshener. It can mask other musky and moldy smells in the room and provide a welcome ambience.
To refresh the carpets and furniture upholstery, dip a sponge in a quart of warm water to which 5-6 drops of bergamot oil have been added. Squeeze off excess water and use the sponge to just wipe over the couches. You can use the mixture in a spritz bottle and mist the carpet with a fine spray. Wipe off with a dry cloth.
Bergamot essential oil is often mixed with earthier scents of sandalwood or cedarwood oils to obtain a more complex aroma. Bergamot oil goes well with cinnamon, nutmeg, lavender, geranium, peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus. Try different combinations and ratios to make your own signature scents.
14. Bergamot Essential Oil for hair care
The antibiotic and antifungal action of bergamot oil makes it excellent for hair care. It reduces itching and scalp infections. It is particularly useful for controlling dandruff complicated by secondary infections. You can add 2-3 drops of the oil to your regular shampoo to take advantage of its antimicrobial action.
A final rinse with 5-6 drops each of bergamot oil and coconut oil mixed in 2 quarts of water will leave your hair smooth and shiny.
15. Blood sugar control
Taking even very small quantities of bergamot oil is known to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. Mainstream medicine is reluctant to acknowledge the health benefits of essential oils, including those of bergamot essential oil. At the same time, they are quick to warn that the use of bergamot oil may result in drastic reduction of blood sugar level in diabetics.
Applying 1-2 drops of the oil on pulse points may help keep blood glucose levels within normal range.
As in the case of any essential oil, bergamot oil should be used with caution, and in small quantities as prescribed by a reputable practitioner. Phytotoxicity is a major concern with this oil because the active agent alpha bergaptene transforms into a poisonous chemical on exposure to light. That is why bergamot oil is always kept in dark bottles. The oil was once used as a tanning agent in sunscreens before its toxicity was known, but sun exposure should be avoided after its application on the skin as well as following its internal use.