Bergamot is used in natural skin care products for its natural antibiotic, antiseptic, disinfectant and regeneration properties. If you have ever sipped Earl Grey Tea, you would have noticed a clean almost smoky/citrus flavor.
This delightful oil, used in beverages as well as toiletries was named after the Italian city of Bergamot, where the oil was first sold. It was used in Italian folk remedies for many years and continues to be known for its rich therapeutic qualities. The essential oil is squeezed from the peel of the Citrus bergamia fruit, which resembles a miniature orange, and like the orange has a fresh fruity taste, but with the spicy/smoky undertones.
Bergamot is a refreshing, uplifting oil that is used for skin care, digestive complaints, urinary tract problems, and emotional challenges. In skin care, this essential oil can be added to facial lotions and preparations to combat acne, eczema and oily skin. Used in a compress bergamot extracts infections and draws out boils as it detoxifies and tones the skin. Although normally not applied directly to the skin because it can cause irritation, the one exception is putting a drop of the neat oil on cold sores and insect bites. Use of bergamot should be avoided when going out into the direct sun as it can cause photosensitivity.
For urinary tract infections, bergamot aids with cystitis and other bladder problems. Especially good when put in a sitz bath, this oil can prevent the spread of infection from the urethra to the bladder and can also break the cycle of emotional distress from the ailment, which perpetuates the illness. Cystitis can cause depression, tension and anxiety— bergamot with its uplifting and relaxing qualities can counter act the upset and emotional imbalance whilst correcting the physical problem. It helps disinfect the entire genito-urinary system, and can alleviate the discomfort of vaginal discharge and thrush.
The digestive system seems to be regulated with bergamot tea. A drop of essential oil can be added to a black tea to relieve flatulence and bloating. Bergamot has been seemingly able to help with anorexia nervosa because it balances the appetite control center of the brain, regulating the need to eat. So even though bergamot doesn’t necessarily increase appetite, it appears to allow the body to know when it is okay to eat and then helps digest the food. There is a depression/anxiety around eating with anorexia, which on psychological levels seems to be relaxed with bergamot’s uplifting and balancing qualities.
In massage, bergamot is one of the more relaxing and balancing oils. It relieves nervous tension, anxiety, depression, and emotional instability. It can also be used in a bath or in an aroma lamp to dispel tension. Mixed with the more spiritual oils like frankincense or sandalwood, bergamot can add an uplifting quality to meditation whilst relaxing the nervous system. Bergamot is a delightful addition to your aromatherapy collection.
The oil from the peel of the bergamot fruit can help remedy difficult skin conditions like acne or cold sores, dark spots / hyperpigmentation, and eczema or a dull, dry complexion. On top of that, it’s enlivening citrus scent is known in aromatherapy to help relieve stress and anxiety.
If you have psoriasis, acne, or dark spots, a skin care formula with bergamot may be just what you need to reveal more radiant skin.
Scientifically called Citrus bergamia, the bergamot orange is about the size of a regular orange, but with a more yellow, lemon-like color and a slight pear shape. The name comes from “Bergamum,” a town in Lombardy, Italy, where the fruit is widely produced. France and Turkey also use it to make essential oil and marmalade. The juice is more bitter than grapefruit, but sweeter than lemons, and is sometimes called a “sweet lemon.”
The tree itself is similar to a regular lemon tree, and grows to about nine feet, with long, oval green leaves and white flowers. The fruit is small and round, and turns yellow when ripe. Like most citrus plants, it likes the warmer weather, and is native to Southeast Asia, though most bergamot oranges are now produced in Italy. The oil is extracted from the rind and widely used in the perfume industry, as well as in Earl Grey tea.
Bergamot is a favorite of aromatherapists, as it has a clean and refreshing citrus fragrance believed to be helpful against depression, anxiety, and nervousness. In fact, one animal study found that bergamot essential oil acted like the anti-anxiety drug diazepam in its stress-relieving properties. The oil is known among cancer survivors as a helpful calming agent for chemotherapy and radiation treatments. It’s also used during massage therapy and in baths to provide these calming benefits.
In traditional medicine, bergamot was used to treat nervous indigestion and to ease headaches. More recent scientific research suggests it may help lower cholesterol. In one study, for example, patients who consumed the extract for 30 days experienced reduced levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides, with increased levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.
Other potential medical uses for bergamot may include relieving pain, preventing cancer, and protecting nerves.
Benefits to the Skin
Bergamot is a natural antibiotic and disinfectant, so adding it to any skin care formula helps ward off microorganisms—no need for potentially dangerous, chemical preservatives. In addition, this antibacterial action makes the oil great for those with acne, as it helps to kill the bacteria on the skin before it can react to create blackheads and pimples. Bergamot has an added property of helping to control excess oil production in the skin, attacking acne from two sides.
Like many natural oils, bergamot is also an antiseptic, meaning that it encourages wound healing and skin regeneration. If you have old acne scars, eczema, psoriasis, or even cold sores, this oil can help the skin heal faster. Even better, it can help prevent new scars and fade old ones. In fact, bergamot is a reputed treatment for scars and stretch marks, as it helps regulate the distribution of skin’s natural pigment—melanin—while evening out skin tone.
If you struggle with psoriasis, bergamot may be able to help. Combined with light therapy, it has shown in limited research to help calm flare-ups. Its natural anti-fungal property also makes it a potential treatment for fungal infections.
Bergamot combines easily with other essential oils, making it a no-brainer for natural skin care formulas, especially because of its refreshing scent. The oil does have a slight tendency to increase your skin’s photosensitivity, though, so always wear sunscreen when using it.
Although research on the health effects is fairly limited, there’s some evidence that bergamot essential oil may provide other health benefits. Here’s a look at some key findings from the available studies on bergamot essential oil:
Bergamot essential oil may help alleviate anxiety, according to a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2011. In tests on rats, the study’s authors determined that treatment with bergamot essential oil helped decrease anxiety and reduce levels of the stress hormone corticosterone.
In a 2003 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, however, researchers found that inhalation of bergamot essential oil failed to reduce anxiety in people undergoing radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Involving 313 patients, the study also found that lavender essential oil and cedarwood essential oil weren’t effective in easing anxiety during radiotherapy.
In a 2009 study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that inhalation of bergamot essential oil may help reduce stress and promote relaxation in healthy individuals.
For 15 minutes, 114 healthy college students either listened to soft music, inhaled bergamot essential oil vapor, listened to soft music while inhaling bergamot essential oil vapor, or did nothing to alleviate stress. Results revealed that both music and bergamot essential oil helped increase activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (the branch of the central nervous system involved in promoting relaxation, slowing heart rate, and lowering blood pressure).
In addition, a 2011 study published in Natural Product Communications found that incorporating a combination of lavender and bergamot essential oils into massage therapy may help lower stress levels and improve mood.
Bergamot essential oil shows promise in the treatment of dermatophytoses, a fungal infection commonly known as ringworm. In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, tests on several common species of dermatophytoses-causing fungi found that bergamot essential oil may possess antifungal properties.
Uses for Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil is typically used to treat the following conditions:
In addition, bergamot essential oil is said to enhance mood, reduce stress, stimulate circulation, improve digestion, and alleviate pain.
How To Use Bergamot Essential Oil
When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), bergamot essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.
Bergamot essential oil can also be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue (or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer).
It’s important to note that bergamot essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional.
There’s some concern that applying bergamot essential oil to the skin may increase your sensitivity to ultraviolet light emitted by the sun and — as a result — raise your risk of skin cancer. When using bergamot essential oil on your skin, it’s crucial to protect against ultraviolet light exposure by applying sunblock.
Essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil before being used topically. When using essential oils, there’s always the risk of contact sensitivity. A skin patch test is recommended prior to using any new essential oil.
Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils.