There are several versions about the origin of the name Bergamot, the most evocative explanation is that it is derived from the Turkish beg-armudi, which means “the Lord’s pear” or “prince of pears”. It is also assumed the name was gained from the Italian city Bergamo, and the Italian word “bergamotto” derived from it. Either way, the only sure fact is that the history of bergamot oil began in Calabria, southern Italy, where this fruit is still widely cultivated.
Bergamot Origin & Characteristics
Bergamot (Citrus Bergamia) is part of the citrus fruit genus, belonging to the family Rutaceae. The fruit of the evergreen bergamot tree are similar to oranges, but smaller and are round to pear-shaped, their colour green-yellow once they are ripened. Bergamot juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. Genetic research suggests that bergamot is a hybrid of two other citrus fruits, one is a type of lime, the other is the sour type of orange. Whether this is a spontaneous, natural hybrid is unknown.
The bergamot tree grows up to five meters high, has smooth oval leaves and clusters of white star-shaped flowers that blossom in winter. It only bears fruit after 3 years of grafting. Once the tree is fully grown, at about 12 years old, it can bear abundant fruit constantly, this only decreases after 70-80 years.
Bergamot Oil & Benefits
The oldest known use of bergamot oil comes from Italian herbal remedies, mainly for its antiseptic properties and to stimulate digestion. They still love bergamot oil as a natural skin care and rejuvenation agent. In Ayurvedic treatment methods bergamot oil is well known for its ability to soothe and treat many afflictions – both external and internal – such as rashes, ulcers, psoriasis and acne, sore throats, coughs and colds, to help reduce fever and relieve anxiety and depression. Bergamot can even be used for oral health.
Bergamot oil, extracted from the skin of the unripe fruit, has a light fresh citrus aroma combined with some floral notes. Its colour is green-orange but can change to olive-green over time, which does not affect the quality.
Bergamot oil is not only claimed to have curative properties, but it is also widely used as a staple ingredient in fragrances for perfumes and other cosmetics, and as a flavouring agent such as in Earl Grey tea. Bergamot oil is also considered beneficial in aromatherapy.
The unique constituents in bergamot oil are the source of its analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, digestive supporting, sedative and even aphrodisiac properties. In alternative therapies, bergamot oil is believed to treat and prevent a range of unrelated conditions such as acne, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, eczema, headache, insomnia, non-allergic rhinitis, arthritic joint pain and psoriasis.
Bergamot Oil for the Skin
Bergamot oil has long been touted for its antibacterial and antifungal effects, capable of treating skin infections and even those affecting the mouth. The disinfectant and antibiotic properties of bergamot oil can accelerate skin recovery and improve minor wounds, eczema, sores, pimples and psoriasis, it cleans the pores and evens out skin tone. Due to its various skin benefits, bergamot oil is added to many creams and lotions suitable for oily skin and acne. Bergamot oil refreshes the skin, nourishes, and has a draining and strengthening effect on the skin. Meanwhile the scent boosts your mood.
For facial care, diluted bergamot oil is particularly ideal for normal to sensitive dry skin. Bergamot oil keeps the skin looking young by homogenizing the distribution of pigment and melanin in the skin. Eczema can be improved and fungal infection, pigmentation loss and psoriasis can be prevented when used topically.
Like all citrus oils, Bergamot oil is phototoxic. This causes the skin to become more sensitive to sunlight and should therefore not be used when tanning or before exposure to tropical sun. Use bergamot oil preferably in the evening before going to sleep.
Bergamot Oil as Deodorant
Bergamot oil is a good natural substitute for deodorant. Its disinfectant properties keep microbes and other germs from growing in the body. Bergamot oil can also be used against lice and parasites, or diluted as a mouthwash for improved oral health, taking care not to swallow any.
Bergamot Oil to Reduce Pain
Due to its analgesic properties bergamot oil can reduce pain, as it stimulates secretion of certain hormones that reduce the nerves’ sensitivity to pain. Hence, it is very helpful to relieve headaches, sprains and muscle pain.
Bergamot Oil & Aromatherapy
Joy in a bottle! Bergamot essential oil is unique for both its stimulating and calming effect. It can be used to reduce feelings of stress, stimulate a positive mood and for its soothing and purifying effect on the skin. Chase away dark and gloomy feelings with the invigorating properties of bergamot oil. Its strong anti-depressant effect gives you strength, tranquillity, and patience when you feel nervous or restless. Bergamot oil improves your mood and self-confidence, you will experience more peace and joy.
Aromatherapy enthusiasts are convinced that when essential oils are inhaled or absorbed through the skin, signals are sent to the limbic system, the area of the brain that regulates emotions and memories. This may cause physiological effects, such as decreased blood pressure, heart rate and respiration, meanwhile increasing the “feel-good” hormone serotonin and the neurotransmitter dopamine.
The alpha-pinene and limonene components in bergamot oil are antidepressants and naturally stimulants. The improved blood circulation they cause, creates the feelings of freshness, joy and energy. But there is more to it: the stimulated hormonal secretions promote a good metabolism, resulting in proper nutrient absorption, assimilation and breakdown of sugar and the consequent reduction of blood sugar levels.
The oil is great to evaporate in your living room, practice room or workplace. It will affect everyone’s mood with joy.
Bergamot oil’s fragrance combines well with an array of scents that complement each other, for example lavender, chamomile, jasmine, geranium, juniper or lemon. Bergamot oil, like lavender, has the ability to enhance the effect of other essential oils.
Bergamot Oil as a Natural Antidepressant
Since bergamot oil acts as a natural antidepressant and stimulant, it is ideally suited for aromatherapy. Anxiety and stress can be reduced through improved blood circulation. Changing your neurological and mental state can also positively influence sleep. Bergamot oil promotes hormone stimulation, such as dopamine and serotonin, inducing relaxation. A few drops of bergamot oil in hot water or vaporizer, can be inhaled so as to benefit from its calming effects. This also aids upper respiratory ailments such as cold and flu.
Bergamot Oil for Massage
Fight fatigue with a blend of bergamot and ylang ylang oil (1:1 ratio) with a carrier oil for an uplifting massage.
Digestive problems can be treated with an abdominal massage, using a few drops of bergamot oil mixed with almond oil.
Stomach cramps – massage the area as required with a carrier oil, mixed with bergamot, lavender, chamomile and marjoram.
Bergamot Oil for a Healing Bath
Regularly adding bergamot oil to bath water can help to improve the body’s protective ability to prevent infections by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Meanwhile, stimulated metabolism and secretion glands cause sweating to occur, which contributes to the excretion of toxins from the body. Bathing with bergamot oil can reduce fever and relieve cough, flu and other respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma. Its relaxing effect on the muscles and pain nerves aids to soothe headaches, muscle aches, cramps and sprains.
Bergamot Oil for Hair Care
Bergamot oil can be applied as a soothing agent for an irritated scalp. Add a few drops of bergamot oil to your shampoo and massage it into the scalp.
Use of Bergamot Oil
When used on the skin, bergamot oil is recommended to be diluted with a carrier oil or other skin care product. Due to the highly phototoxic compound direct exposure to the sun or UV radiation should be avoided. Bergamot oil should be stored in dark places and kept out of direct sunlight.