Bergamot essential oil benefits go far beyond its uplifting fragrance and include stress relief, mood boosting, pain relief and more. In fact, some claim that the anxiety-relieving benefits parallel that of conventional drugs!
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History & Chemical Components of Bergamot
Bergamot essential oil belongs to the citrus family of oils. Derived from the plants of the Citrus bergamia Risso tree, this plant’s origins are a mystery. Like many other citrus plants, bergamot is very likely a hybrid, that is, a cross between two plants. However, there is no consensus among botanists on which two plants were its parents. (1) Bergamot is not to be confused with bergamot mint, a completely different essential oil derived from the mint family of plants.
The bergamot tree produces a fruit that is suitable for fragrance but is rarely used for eating as it has a “perfumey” flavor. (2) However, you might recognize the scent of bergamot if you drink Earl Grey tea, which often is made by mixing black tea with bergamot essential oil or other bergamot extractions.
The name bergamot most likely comes from the Berga region of Spain. Bergamia Risso trees were grown there then shipped to the southern coast of Italy where they are now primarily grown. Most bergamot oil available today is cultivated from trees in this region, however, it does grow in other areas of the Mediterranean.
Bergamot oil is most commonly obtained through the cold expression of the peel. The major constituents of bergamot essential oil include the following:
- linalyl acetate
Bergamot is popular for its stress-reducing qualities and is also commonly used in commercial products that have a “citrusy” scent. Let’s see what health benefits this unique oil has for you.
9 Benefits Of Bergamot Essential Oil
1. Stress & Anxiety
Due to its long reputation as a stress reliever, several studies have been done on bergamot essential oil and its impact on cortisol, the stress hormone. Bergamot oil was found to reduce cortisol levels among 41 healthy females who inhaled it. (3) AIn experiments done on lab rats, it also reduced stress responses in the body. (4, 5)
This pleasing scent blends well with a variety of other oils and is a must-have in your toolbox if you suffer anxiety or have high-stress responsibilities.
In another study, bergamot, lavender, and frankincense oils were blended and used as a massage oil in a hospice care facility in Korea. Treated patients had reduced pain, anxiety, and depression. (7) We recommend using these oils to help during times of illness and or difficult health issues.
Application: Bergamot oil has a light citrusy flavor. Use 1-2 drops when cooking mild bakery items like scones, tea bread, or pound cake.
Like many other citrus oils, bergamot has powerful antimicrobial properties, making it useful for cleaning and disinfecting. Several citrus oils were tested and compared for their effect on foodborne pathogens, such as E. coli and other bacteria for use in the food industry. Bergamot oil was determined to be the most effective of all in combating these pathogens. (8)
This effect may be due to the presence of linalool, which has demonstrated strong antimicrobial properties in the lab including antifungal properties. Bergamot is a refreshing scent to add to your homemade bath and hand cleansers. (9, 10)
Bergamot oil was also one of several oils that reduced the spread of influenza after 10 minutes of diffusion, making it a superior choice to promote health and wellness in your home. (11)
Application: Add several drops of bergamot oil to your favorite DIY cleaning recipes.
4. Cardiovascular Disease
Can bergamot oil help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease? Several studies have explored the impact of bergamot essential oil on heart disease, blood pressure, and cholesterol with interesting results. For example, one of its constituents, bergamottin, was tested on guinea pigs induced with arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and demonstrated “significant antianginal and antiarrhythmic properties.” (12)
Research also suggests that bergamot may lower overall cholesterol, including LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, reducing overall risk for cardiovascular disease. (13, 14) This is an excellent oil to keep on hand to protect you from cardiovascular disease.
Application: Diffuse a blend of ylang ylang and bergamot oil to support good heart health.
Bergamot essential oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its major components of linalool, limonene, and linalyl acetate, making it an excellent choice for pain relief! Data shows that bergamot oil also may reduce sensitivity to pain and reduce pain caused by events or conditions that do not normally cause pain, something commonly experienced by fibromyalgia patients. (15)
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and low bone mass. (16) This bone disease occurs when bones are weakened and become more susceptible to breaks and fractures. Osteoporosis has many causes including diabetes. (17)
In 2016, researchers in China discovered that mice with diabetes-related osteoporosis who were treated with bergapten had improved collagen levels and the effects of the disease were reduced. (18) When you consider its pain-relieving properties, bergamot is a must-have tool in your medicine box if you suffer from osteoporosis.
Bergamot oil is not only great for reducing stress, but it can also help alleviate the symptoms of regular or chronic fatigue. In a small 2015 study, healthy women were exposed to bergamot essential oil vaporized in water. These subjects quickly experienced reduced levels of cortisol, the stress hormone and also demonstrated improved scores for both negative emotions and fatigue. (19)
Another small experiment showed that hospice subjects who received a massage with bergamot and lavender oil mixture had better sleep compared to those who did not. This lovely scent is an ideal addition to your medicine cabinet!
Application: Create Mama Z’s Homemade Hand Cream recipe with bergamot and lavender oils and massage into your hands before sleep.
8. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a serious illness that can be caused by metabolic syndrome or a diet filled with unhealthy fatty or sugary foods combined with a sedentary lifestyle. When left untreated, it can escalate into more serious diseases or conditions. The effects of bergamot were researched in a 2014 study on subjects who had NAFLD and metabolic syndrome. Treated patients had improved lipid and blood sugar levels, as well as reduced LDL cholesterol and enhancement of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. (20)
Application: Use bergamot oil in our essential oil gel capsule recipe.
In recent years, some fascinating research has come out about the neuroprotective benefits of bergamot oil. An animal study suggested that it may protect neurons from damage caused by excitotoxins. (21)
What’s even more interesting is research from 2017 where 20 schizophrenia patients were treated with bergamot juice in addition to their regular treatment. Improved cognitive scores were seen across the group, indicating that bergamot may be a helpful supplement for people with neurological disorders. (22)
Bergamot Essential Oil & Safety
According to the NAHA, bergamot essential oil has a moderate risk of phototoxicity, meaning that it can burn the skin when exposed to sunlight. They recommend avoiding exposure to sunlight or tanning beds after using bergamot oil on your skin. (23)
You can also find versions of bergamot oil that are free of bergapten, which is the constituent that causes phototoxicity, but they are not as commonly available and will have a very different composition, therefore impacting its benefits.
Bergamot oil can oxidize more quickly than some other oils so we recommend you store it in a dark, cool area or in your refrigerator for the longest life. Bergamot oil has a maximum dermal use of 0.4%, so be sure to dilute it properly.
Use these common-sense tips when working with bergamot essential oil:
- At present, there is no clinically safe level of dosage for children, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot give it to them. You should start off small with “culinary doses,” that is, no more than drop per dish. Bergamot essential oil is safe to use in your diffuser and topical applications if you keep it to 1% or less for children.
- Don’t consume straight out of the bottle, and don’t drink with water (remember that oil and water do not mix).
- Do not use around cats as they are sensitive to d-limonene. Always make sure your pets can leave any room where you diffuse oils for their safety.
- You can consume safely by adding 2-3 drops of bergamot essential oil into a veggie gel capsule and fill it with olive oil. Consume with food.
- Do not stay on bergamot oil for an extended length of time. Ideally, you should rotate your oils every few weeks.
- Stop using it immediately if you experience any side effects.
- Use with caution if you take medications. Check with your healthcare provider first.
Bergamot essential oil blends well with floral oils, and naturally, other citrus oil, as well as resins like frankincense. Its delicate scent is pleasantly uplifting and appealing.
With a host of amazing health benefits, particularly the ability to reduce stress and boost mood, bergamot oil is a useful, affordable addition to your essential oil cabinet. The mild scent makes it a flexible addition to many of your favorite blends!