LATIN/BOTANICAL NAME: Citrus Bergamia
BOTANICAL FAMILY: Rutaceae (Citrus)
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Bergamot is a fruit tree with an average height of 16 feet. Its fruit is not edible. Bergamot is a product of cultivation and is usually a cross breed of Bitter Orange and Lemon.
PART of the PLANT UTILIZED: The peel
ORIGIN: Hard to determine. Commercially grown in Italy, Morocco, Ivory Coast
OIL CHARACTERISTICS: Citrus aroma with a hint of floral or spice. Thin consistency. Green/Golden color.
EXTRACTION METHOD: Cold Pressed
The origin of this fruit is not well established but according to some experts it could have originated in Asia. It was then brought to Europe by the famous explorer Christopher Columbus. The name Bergamot was taken from the city of Lombardy in Italy- Bergamot (Bergamo) city during the 18th century where the fruit was initially cultivated and it reached the region of Calabria in Southern Italy where Bergamot is now commercially produced. Calabria today is the major producer of the Bergamot fruit together with places such as Sicily, Ivory Coast, Argentina, Brazil and Guinea. Some other regions and different places around the world tried to cultivate Bergamot but failed due to several factors like soil condition, irrigation system and climate condition.
Since the 16th century Bergamot has been a popular folk medicine in Italy where the fruit and the essential oil were utilized and then quickly spread throughout Europe. It was primarily used for its antiseptic properties and used as a treatment for fever. During the Napoleonic period, Bergamot was also used as a component for perfumes and in today’s perfume industry, Bergamot is still used in perfumes and in Earl-Gray tea.
Bergamot essential oil reached its popularity in the perfume industry and became a hot commodity during 1750. To meet the demands from the perfume industry, the first commercial orchard was established in Reggio Calabria, Italy. The demand for Bergamot oil continued until 1972 when studies were done that suggested Bergamot was extremely photo toxic due to its Bergapten component. This study decreased the demand for Bergamot leaving the perfumeries to opt for a synthetic component.
Through several years of reformulation through re-distillation, Bergamot oil can be a safe oil to use even under the sun and would not cause any photo toxicity if the Bergamot Oil is furanocoumarin or bergapten free (Bergamot BF). This new formulations is again a major component of many perfumes today and can be safely use even under the sun. Make sure you are purchasing the Bergamot Oil bergapten or furanocoumarin free. Make sure you are using the right form of Bergamot Oil you are using. When bergamot oil has not gone through a re-distillation process it is extremely photo toxic and sometimes referred to as “expressed bergamot oil”.
Therapeutic Properties and Uses
In aromatherapy, Bergamot Oil is used in massage, as a compress, and in bath and skin care products. It is also used through inhalation which can be done directly or with a diffuser.
Bergamot Essential Oil has the following therapeutic actions: Analgesic, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, carminative, cicatrisant, deodorant, digestive, febrifuge, sedative, stomachic, tonic, vermifuge, vulnerary.
Based on its applications and therapeutic actions, the following are some of the many uses of it:
Digestive System – Bergamot has been know to aid in digestion and can help relieve colic, gas and indigestion. It may also help with loss of appetite. Bergamot has vermifuge properties which can help expel worms.
Immune System – With its febrifuge properties, Bergamot essential oil can help to alleviate a fever and can also effectively normalize body temperature.
Nervous System – Bergamot essential oil can provide effective relief from pain through its analgesic property. It can stimulate the secretion of some hormones which can help lessen the pain sensitivity of the nerves. This oil is very helpful in relieving pain from sprains and headaches.
Bergamot essential oil has certain components like Alpha Pinene and Limonene that may also help treat depression and anxiety. It has been used to treat mild depression by promoting positive emotions such as joy, relaxed and refreshed feelings through improved circulation. Its sedative properties also promote relaxation because of the flavonoids, which induces a deep relaxation that can help soothe nervous tension, stress and anxiety and may also help induce quality sleep.
Personal Care – Bergamot essential oil has a great refreshing aroma and is also a good disinfectant against odor causing germs which makes this oil ideal to use in a body deodorant product. As a mouthwash, Bergamot oil can be an effective ingredient that can help treat halitosis, mouth and throat infection and can protect the teeth from cavities. It also makes a good ingredient for Room Sprays because of its refreshing citrus blend smell. You can mix Bergamot with other citrus oils to create a more refreshing and exhilarating scent.
Skin Care – Certain components of Bergamot oil can help control the growth of bacteria, fungi and virus. This makes it effective in treating infections especially on the skin. It is also a good antiseptic and disinfectant that can promote healing of skin ulcers, cracked skin, eczema and wounds. It may also provide protection to skin wounds that can deter the development of tetanus. Bergamot essential oil is often used in cosmetic products like soaps, lotions and creams which can help treat uneven skin tone. It can also help minimize the appearance of scars, spots and skin marks which can helps fade away certain skin imperfections like acne.
Urinary System – Bergamot has been used in baths to help fight off infections of the urinary tract.
Considerations and Safety Information
- Keep Bergamot essential in a dark bottle and away from sunlight.
- Bergamot essential oil is phototoxic and should not be used on the skin prior to sun exposure. They do make a Bergamot Essential Oil that is Bergapten Free and this oil is not phototoxic.
- Essential Oils should be used with caution by those who are pregnant or nursing and those who suffer with a serious medical condition.
- Essential oils should not be taken internally unless directed by a trained aromatherapist.
- Always use caution when using essential oils with children.
- Essential oils should not be applied topically without being diluted.
Important Notice: The information given above is ONLY intended for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The data in this article is not complete and there is no guarantee of its accuracy.
References: Bergamot Essential Oil – www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/bergamot-oil.asp; http://www.webmd.com; http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-bergamot-essential-oil.html; www.aromatherapylibrary.com/bergamotessentialoilprofile.html; www.aromatherapylifestyle.com/2011/05/bergamot-essential-oil; http://www.jeannerose.net/articles/bergamont_EO.html