Bergamot is a type of citrus fruit that is thought to be a lemon mutation or a cross between a sour orange and a lemon.
Like many essential oils, bergamot can trace its origin back to Asia, but is widely produced in Italy where it became part of Italian folk medicine.
Being a citrus plant, it requires a climate of warm summers with mild winters in which to flourish.
Don't confuse this pear shaped citrus fruit with the similarly named bergamot herb or wild bergamot, which are actually part of the mint family.
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They happen to have similar scents, which earned them the same name. (source)
My Top 5 Best Bergamot Oil Brands In 2018
*The companies chosen above are based upon my personal opinion based upon me giving them a try and testing their quality.
The herb is also used in cheaper versions of the oil, so be sure to check your ingredients if you are looking to receive the full benefit of the oil, not just the scent.
Unlike many citrus fruits, like the orange, lime, or lemon, the bergamot is not generally grown to use its juice, but both the juice and fruit are edible.
Much like sour orange, its fleshy fruits can be used in making marmalade. Bergamot essential oil is actually made from a pressing of the peel rather than the juice. This is the same process or most citrus-based oils.
What is Bergamot Oil Used For?
You may be most familiar with bergamot as an ingredient in tea, most commonly Earl or Lady Grey teas.
There are many stories as to how it came about, but the most widely accepted is the mix of bergamot and black tea were made to impress Earl Grey and grew in popularity within their social circle before being created for commercial production.
Bergamot is also widely used in perfumes since its smell blends well with a number of other aromas. It can even cover up unpleasant medicinal smells and is used in a variety of lotions for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
It has long been used to treat a wide variety of health issues such as depression, anxiety and digestive problems. I have used the oil in a diffuser to help with anxiety that my medication does not fully repress.
The citrus aroma calms as well as energizes, since your mind is no longer busy with stress.
Bergamot Essential Oil Benefits
The world is always looking for ways to help treat common medical conditions. Since the rise of the modern pharmaceutical age, we rely on pills more and more often, sometimes with unpleasant side effects.
Using bergamot oil either in aromatherapy or applying topically can complement the traditional course of treatment prescribed by doctors.
Help Treat Depression
Depression is a very common condition, with many people experiencing it at least once in their lives. It can be as simple as a temporary period of feeling down or listless, which likely does not require medical intervention or as serious as requiring a doctor's intervention.
Depression can be brought on by a change in life circumstances or even a genetic pre-disposition, which varies in severity.
I've had clinical depression on and off for years, and it leaves me unable to function without medical intervention. However, even the medicine does not treat all the symptoms, such as fatigue and mental fog that accompanies the sadness.
It would likely take years of experimenting with different drug combinations to find the ones that would alleviate all the symptoms and still allow me to function.
Essential oils have helped fill the gap between the pharmaceutical help I receive and the remaining symptoms. Bergamot has become a mainstay in my oil toolbox, along with several other oils that are excellent for relaxation, but also energizing.
I add it along with eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender for energy and focus as well as to alleviate some stress. It blends well with the other scents so as not be overwhelmingly citrus in aroma within the sharper scent of the eucalyptus.
Bergamot has been shown to have neuroprotective properties and helps neurons receive the feel-good hormones produced by the brain.
Bergamot was used in an aromatherapy treatment for patients with diagnosed mental disorders and the participants perceived increased feelings of happiness and well being.
This implies that even minimal exposure, such as an hour or so, can lift a person's mood. (source)
Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is quickly becoming the number one cause of death in America. The chronic pressure on the blood vessels of the body leads to heart attacks and strokes.
High blood pressure can be caused by anxiety and stress, as well as some genetic factors such as a family history of heart disease.
It is not solely diet based, though a diet high in sodium can exacerbate the effects.
Heart disease and high blood pressure is rampant in my family tree on both sides. I'm also under a fair amount of stress with constant projects, testing, and deadlines.
I don't want to risk developing high blood pressure as a chronic condition.
Bergamot has relaxing properties, which affect the muscles of the cardiovascular system. It helped prevent the restriction of some blood vessels, allowing blood to flow without obstruction.
The oil also appeared to prevent changes in heartbeat such as arrhythmia or tachycardia, which could lead to death. (source)
This oil also has a marked affect on soothing anxiety, which produces the stress related hormone cortisol at a rate, which the body cannot handle on a daily basis.
Using bergamot may help reduce stress and allow blood pressure to be lowered as a result. (source)
It was noticed that due to its high flavonoid makeup, bergamot has properties which lowers LDL, the bad cholesterol that causes plaque on the walls of the artery.
This makes it much like a pharmaceutical statin and has the potential to help lower cholesterol levels, which in turn may slow the process of atherosclerosis or hardening of the artery walls. (source)
Soothe Stress and Anxiety
Stress seems to be a chronic condition for most of us these days. Constant deadlines and projects, meetings, and places to be seem to be the theme of the modern world.
Since technology has enabled us to work faster and more efficiently, it seems like we now have much more to do.
We often have very little time to relax either, since we are constantly at work or fulfilling other obligations. Much of our down time is spent on work around the house or with the family.
Stress can cause a different number of conditions, including high blood pressure and difficulty losing weight due to the constant release of the stress hormone cortisol.
It also wears you down and takes away the energy you need to work well and have a clear mind.
This is also true of anxiety, as we are inundated with deadlines to meet and overwhelming expectations.
Clinical anxiety can make it very hard to function, as the stress overwhelms the body and creates a mental and physical reaction.
Using bergamot in an essential oil synergy with others such as lavender and ylang ylang has shown reduced levels of cortisol as well as reduced blood pressure which may be stress based. (source)
I use it in the office when I'm closest to a deadline or project completion. When my mind can relax and isn't devoting all its energy to adapting to the stress, I feel focused and able to get all my work done without being overwhelmed.
Essential Oil Recipes That Include Bergamot Oil
Treat Your Skin
Much of the acne that appears on your skin is caused by bacteria that are trapped when pores become clogged with dead skin cells.
Bergamot has anti-bacterial properties that can kill those bacteria before they has a chance to grow further and cause skin eruptions, enflamed bumps and scarring.
Since the body is trying to fight off something foreign, in this case the bacteria trapped in pores, there is often red, inflamed skin to accompany the raw bumps.
Bergamot will also help reduce swelling and the pain associated with the infection while killing the germs beneath the skin.
Acne is also sometimes caused by stress creating more surface oil and that leads to skin pores that are filled and can become inflamed.
I've used both bergamot and tea tree oil when dealing with a break out of acne, particularly because I suffer from anxiety and depression. I always get a break out when my anxiety is at a peak.
Both oils are anti-bacterial so it kills what is causing the infection and inflammation, but bergamot is especially helpful for the mood lifting properties.
Inhaling the bergamot as I apply it to my skin relieves much of my stress and anxiety, the acne can heal quickly and properly, and the breakout doesn't last nearly as long as it does without treatment.
You can add bergamot directly to a cotton ball and then the skin of your face. Used in small amounts, there shouldn't be any problems, but avoid strong sunlight as a precaution.
Some of the chemicals in bergamot may cause photosensitivity and even burns when exposed to too much sunlight.
Adding bergamot oil to bathwater would help with skin health on your entire body. Its aroma would surround you, lifting your mood and energizing you while you bathe.
The neurological effects the bergamot has on the body that allows your brain to produce and utilize hormones that keep depression at bay can be a plus when using this oil to kill the germs that are on your skin and prevent other infections as well. (source)
If you'd like to further relax, add a few drops of lavender as well. Both oils have a host of substances which help your mind calm enough to sleep.
It would be perfect right before bed: the bergamot gives you clearer skin and the lavender lets you get your beauty rest.
Bergamot has many properties that affect the things that happen to our bodies to cause pain. It treats inflammation as well as any infection, which may be causing the body to be inflamed.
Stress can change our perception of pain, and, at times, general body aches and pains have been associated with a diagnosis of depression.
The aroma of bergamot helps the brain use proper neurochemicals more efficiently, perhaps leading to an elimination of depression related pain as feel-good hormones ameliorate the depression itself.
The ability to relax may have a tangible impact on the perception of pain.
It has been shown that a hand massage with bergamot mixed in carrier oil had a positive effect size for terminal hospice patients. They also reported a reduction in depression and related symptoms.
So aroma and topical application can have a desired outcome for those trying to manage pain. (source)
It seems we are forever fighting our own bodies, but most particularly when it comes to our stomach and digestive system.
Much of what occurs when we have indigestion may be as a result of inflammation, particularly in the soft tissue that lines the stomach and intestines.
In a modern world of over-processed food, our bodies often react in undesired ways.
Inflammation is the body's response to an injury or something it cannot process properly. This inflammation sometimes causes the malabsorption of nutrients from food, which leads to indigestion and other symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea.
Bergamot has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. This will allow the enflamed tissues to recover and ameliorate the symptoms that occurred.
Oil from bergamot has strong antimicrobial, antibiotic, and antiviral properties that are common with other types of citrus-based oils such as orange, lemon, and mandarin.
This may help keep infections at bay, which would cause gastrointestinal upset such as salmonella and e. coli. (source)
You may want to switch your tea to Earl Grey with oil of bergamot in it or you can even massage a couple drops into the skin of your abdomen when needed.
This will help your digestive system fight off any viruses you happen to inhale or consume in the course of a day.
Bergamot Oil Side Effects and Precautions
Even though it is a completely natural substance rather than man-made chemicals, bergamot still warrants some precautions when using.
As always, work with your health care practitioner when adding essential oils and their products to your daily routine.
The Science Behind Bergamot Essential Oil
Navarra, M, et al. Citrus bergamia essential oil: from basic research to clinical application. Front Pharmacology, 2015.
This review brought out together the results of many studies about the effects of bergamot oil in several different health issues.
These issues include depression, pain, indigestion, and blood pressure. It is used in the perfume industry because it is able to blend scents with almost any other scent.
Research was collected which showed that bergamot has a significant positive impact on a person's perception of mood and could be used in conjunction with other medications to treat depression and anxiety.
Fisher, K. and Phillips, C.A.: The effect of lemon, orange and bergamot essential oils and their components on the survival of Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus in vitro and in food systems.Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2006. (source)
With the prevalence of antibiotics in our modern world, many diseases are developing strains which are resistant to traditional medicinal treatments, such as the staph virus and even certain strains of yeast.
Essential oils may be the answer to that problem; hosting a wide variety of abilities to kill the most common bacteria and viruses we get from food and which are passed around through the air.
Bergamot has been found to kill the bacteria that grows in food and causes food poisoning. This conclusion shows that it is effective either being added to the food or even existing as an aromatic vapor around the food.
Johannsen, B.: Nurses' Experiences of Using Bergamot Essential Oil (Aromatherapy) on Patients with Dementia Suffering from Depression: A Pilot Study International Journal of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, 2016. (source)
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the neuroprotective aspects, bergamot oil has been found to reduce depression and the perception of pain.
The substances found in the oil have a positive effect on the neurochemicals that are primarily responsible for producing hormones or for transmitting them throughout the brain.
Medication is not always the best course of action for treating depression because of the varying side effects or even the wide range of symptoms to be treated.
This is especially apparent in the elderly, who may be taking a wide variety of other medicines and drug interactions are a possibility.
When used as an aromatic mist in complimentary therapies, most people reported an increase in mood and well-being. This could help reduce the need for too many medications.
This study found that using bergamot as a complimentary therapy for the elderly was as simple as setting up a diffuser and everyone involved could reap the benefits.
Final Thoughts About Bergamot Oil
It seems like there are more chronic health issues than ever before. Our lives are planned to use every minute and we feel like we cannot take a moment to ourselves.
Stress breaks our bodies down and fatigues us to the point that other sicknesses take over.
When we feel the first signs of illness, we run to the doctor, hoping for a pill that will cure what ails us and do it as quickly as possible.
The medicine we use to help with these problems come with further problems of their own and sometimes require even more medication to assist with that.
It's a cycle that we can't seem to make our way out of without more pills to take.
Essential oils can be a complimentary treatment, not to replace medication, but to assist in receiving the full benefit.
It can be used to mitigate side effects like stomach upset or help you relax enough to allow your body to recover naturally.
By treating the symptoms of a disease, we often give our bodies time and energy to heal ourselves.
I knew that fruits and vegetables were good for me, but by using their oils, I get even greater benefits than just eating them.
Bergamot is a great example of citrus oil, with germ killing properties that can be used in the air and on surfaces in the home and office.
Bergamot works with my anti-depressants on days when stress is overwhelming me. My mind is calmed to the point that I can think my way past any anxiety and use therapeutic tools to recover.
Thankfully I love Earl Grey tea. I always keep a box on hand when I need a mood boost to get me through a particularly stressful part of the day.
Using it with tea tree oil has saved my skin from adult acne, caused by stress and poor diet. A few drops in the bath with a cup of bath salts takes care of the rest of my body, including any open cuts or bruises, keeping them germ free and helping with inflammation. This is particularly nice on my joints after a long day on my feet.
This oil is one for the essential oil toolbox since not only does it blend well with other scents but you'll get to enjoy all the benefits of this versatile essential oil.
What Company Should I Purchase Bergamot Oil From?
I hope you enjoyed learning about all of the cool benefits and uses that bergamot essential oil offers. It is definitely one of the most versatile oils because it can be used to create so many different types of blends to solve your everyday problems.
My personal favorite brand that I purchase most of my oils from is doTERRA. I find that they offer the highest quality oils, starter kits, and diffusers. They are especially good if you are brand new to oils because they offer a lot of free resources and education once you become a customer.
I highly recommend giving them a try. You can read more about my story of using their oils here.