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 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.
The main chemical constituents found in bergamot essential oil are:
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.
The therapeutic properties of bergamot essential oil include:
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.