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Essential Oil Profile: Bergamot

ESSENTIAL OIL PROFILE: BERGAMOT

Bergamot essential oil is produced from the peel of the nearly ripe fruit of the Citrus bergamia tree, also known as Citrus aurantium subsp. Bergamia. Bergamot is a member of the Rutaceae plant family. Although it is native to tropical Asia, bergamot is extensively cultivated in southern Italy and also commercially grown on the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Morocco and Corsica. The bergamot fruit is inedible due to its sour pulp; therefore the bergamot tree is principally cultivated for its essential oil, which is extracted by expression.

Bergamot Oil

Characteristics

Bergamot essential oil is a light green or olive green liquid with a fresh, sweet, fruity scent and a spicy-balsamic undertone. When bergamot oil ages, it fades into a yellow or olive-brown colour. It has a top note and blends especially well with lemon, lavender, neroli, jasmine, cypress, chamomile, juniper, sandalwood and black pepper.

Chemical Constituents

The main chemical constituents found in bergamot essential oil are:

  • linalyl acetate – an ester that has antispasmodic and sedative properties
  • limonene – a terpene that gives bergamot its uplifting citrus aroma
  • linalol – an alcohol that has antiseptic, antispasmodic and sedative properties.

Safety Considerations

Bergamot essential oil is phototoxic due to the presence of one of its constituents, bergapten, therefore sun exposure should be avoided after using it in massage, bath and body oils or creams. It is possible to obtain a safer bergamot oil that has had the bergapten removed.

Historical and Traditional Uses

Bergamot is thought to have been named after Bergamo, an Italian city where the oil was first sold. In Italian folk medicine, bergamot essential oil was used for the treatment of fever and worms. The oil was also a key ingredient of the classic toilet water known as Eau de Cologne, and continues to be one of the most popular essential oils used in perfumery today. Bergamot is used to flavour Earl Grey tea.

Therapeutic Actions

The therapeutic properties of bergamot essential oil include:

  • antidepressant
  • antiseptic
  • antispasmodic
  • antiviral
  • carminative
  • cicatrisant
  • deodorant
  • digestive
  • diuretic
  • sedative
  • stomachic
  • tonic.

Aromatherapy Use

Skin Care:

  • acne – skin oil or lotion
  • cold sores – skin oil
  • eczema – massage, bath, skin oil or cream
  • insect bites – skin oil or cream
  • insect repellent – skin oil or vaporisation
  • oily skin – massage, bath, skin oil or lotion
  • psoriasis – massage, bath, skin oil or cream
  • wounds – bath, compress, skin oil or cream.

Immune System:

  • colds and flu – massage, bath, vaporisation or inhalation
  • infections – massage, bath, vaporisation or inhalation
  • sore throats – massage, compress, vaporisation or inhalation.

Digestive System:

  • flatulence – massage
  • indigestion – massage
  • loss of appetite – massage.

Genito-Urinary System:

  • cystitis – compress or bath
  • thrush – bath.

Nervous System:

  • anxiety – massage, bath or vaporisation
  • depression – massage, bath or vaporisation
  • stress and tension – massage, bath or vaporisation.

Emotional and Spiritual Connection

Bergamot is associated with the colour green and the heart chakra. It has a relaxing, restoring and calming energy and helps to uplift the mind, body and spirit. Bergamot helps to let go of accumulated stress or repressed emotions, especially anger, grief and irritability.

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