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5 November 2021 / Caitlin Devlin

Bergamot Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Zesty bergamot can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health. 

Bergamot Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

With the ability to soothe both emotional and physical distress, bergamot is famous for its uplifting quality. 

Named after the city of Bergamo in Lombardy, Italy, bergamot was once used in Italian folk medicine to treat fever, parasites, and sore throats. A hybrid between a lemon and a sour orange, the fruit itself looks like a bumpy green lemon and is now most commonly used as an ingredient in Earl Grey tea. Bergamot essential oil, extracted from the peel of the fruit, has many uses, and is probably most famous these days for its ability to lift low moods and soothe worries.

Bergamot essential oil is extracted in two main ways.

These are: cold pressing and steam distilling. In both methods, it is the peel that the oil is collected from rather than the flesh of the fruit, as the peel is more nutrient-dense.

Cold pressing involves the use of a spiked drum to press the oil out of the peel. The oil then drips down through small holes in the base of the drum and is collected.

Steam distilling involves passing steam through a closed chamber containing the peel, and letting the oil condense on top of the water.

Cold pressing is usually preferred to maintain the full benefits of the oil and keep the scent strong. However, steam-distilled or furocoumarin-free oil is better for applying to skin, as the removal of furocoumarins neutralises any phototoxic effects. Click here to learn more about phototoxicity in citrus oils.

If you're looking to use bergamot in skincare, you may want to check out our furocoumarin-free bergamot oil. Shop it here.

    It can improve mental health.

    Bergamot oil has been shown to be beneficial for low mood and anxiety. A study in 2011 analysed the effect of a bergamot and lavender blend on the blood pressure, pulse rates, breathing rates, skin temperature, and various emotional responses of patients suffering from depression. Those who inhaled the blend rather than the placebo found that the oil had a significant positive effect on all of these markers.

    Lots of studies have supported this finding, and bergamot has been shown to increase positive feelings, reduce salivary cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and reduce fatigue. It was even suggested in a 2006 study that bergamot can stimulate the production of digestive juices, bile, and insulin, which assimilates the breakdown of sugars and lowers blood pressure, in turn lowering stress responses. Beyond the field of mental health, researchers believe these findings could help sufferers of hypertension.

    Learn more about using essential oils to manage anxiety here.

    It reduces bacteria on the skin and in the mouth.

    Bergamot oil’s antibacterial qualities make it an effective facial cleanser, as it is able to fight bacteria in the pores of the skin and sooth irritations. Oil-pulling with a few drops of bergamot oil and a vegetable carrier oil can also help to improve oral health, as it can eliminate bad bacteria on the teeth and gums and leave breath smelling fresher.

    A study in 2007 detailed the antibacterial activity of bergamot, and suggested that these effects may be due in part to the presence of linalool in bergamot oil, which is effective against foodborne pathogens.

    It may help to relieve pain.

    The presence of linalool in bergamot oil may also account for its reported pain-relieving properties. A 2017 review details the anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-convulsant properties of the oil, all of which give it effective pain-relieving qualities.

    It is also believed that linalool can block effects on pain receptors and inhibit the release of substance P, a compound involved in the transmission of pain and other nerve impulses.

     

    It is important to remember that bergamot oil that is cold pressed or not FCF (furocoumarin-free) may not be safe to apply to the skin, and can cause an adverse reaction when coming into contact with direct sunlight. Excessive use of bergamot oil may also pose a risk to diabetics due to its ability to lower blood sugar. However, as long as a reasonable amount of caution and common sense is applied, bergamot is a perfectly safe home remedy for low mood, stress and pain, and can help to leave skin and teeth healthy and glowing.

     

    Shop our bergamot essential oil here.

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