Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a pear-shaped member of the citrus family of trees. The fruit itself is sour, but when the rind is cold-pressed, it yields an essential oil with a sweet and zesty aroma that boasts variety of health benefits.5
The plant is named after the city of Bergamo in Calabria, the southwest region of Italy and the place where, centuries ago, the essential oil was first used in perfume. The Calabria region remains the world’s primary producers of bergamot essential oil today.1
Bergamot Essential Oil Uses
Bergamot essential oil’s widely appealing aroma and antibacterial qualities makes it an ideal natural cleanser and relaxant. Here are a few popular ways to use bergamot essential oil.
Natural Skin Cleanser
Add 5-6 drops of bergamot essential oil to 8 ounces of warm water. Dip a clean facecloth in the solution then gently wipe face and neck before bed to remove makeup and bacteria and keep skin feeling fresh. The same formula can be used in the morning, 20-30 minutes before applying any moisturizer or makeup.
For acne-prone skin, add 8-10 drops of bergamot essential oil to unscented castile or glycerine soap. Use the soap before bed for best results.
To promote healing and reduce scarring of abrasions (scraped skin with little or no bleeding) and minor scabbed wounds, add 3-4 drops of bergamot essential oil to 8 ounces of cool water. Using a clean cloth, wash the wound with the diluted essential oil. Allow to air dry before putting any kind of bandage over the wound.
Enhance the muscle-relaxing benefits of an Epsom salt bath by adding 6 drops of bergamot essential oil and 6 drops of lavender essential oil. For best results, add the essential oils into the stream of water that fills the tub. Reduce the number of bergamot and lavender essential oil drops to 3 of each, if using an Epsom salt for relief from rashes or other itchy skin conditions.
For an easy, natural air freshener, add 6-8 drops of bergamot essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Spritz the mixture into the room (3-4 times per 100-150 square feet), being careful to not spray on people or pets.
Bergamot blends well with the aromas of sandalwood, cinnamon, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oil. Consider adding 3-4 drops of one of these other essential oils along with the bergamot to create a richer aromatic experience.
Natural Household Cleaner
To freshen upholstery and carpets, add 6-8 drops of bergamot essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Using a spray bottle, spritz the solution over surfaces before wiping down with a cloth or sponge.
There’s good reason bergamot essential oil is found in so many perfumes: the aroma is widely appealing and helps to reduce anxiety, stress, and muscle tension.2,3 For aromatherapy, put 3-4 drops in a diffuser.
Add 1-3 drops of bergamot essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil like coconut or jojoba and massage over the skin. This can help relieve muscle tension and stress.2,3
Bergamot is a go-to essential oil for perfume, including the homemade kind. A simple recipe for a sweet, long-lasting perfume calls for 6 drops of bergamot, 15 drops of lemongrass essential oil and 9 drops of sandalwood essential oil in 2 Tbsp. of carrier oil. Using a dark glass bottle, add the combined oils to 4 Tbsp. of high-proof vodka. Close the bottle and shake it vigorously for 90 seconds. Let it sit in a cool dark place for 24 hours then add 1 Tbsp. of distilled water. Shake again for 60 seconds. After letting it sit again for 24 hours, the perfume is ready to wear.
Add 3 drops of bergamot essential oil to 1 ounce of shampoo to control dandruff, reduce itching and fight scalp bacteria daily.
Benefits of Bergamot Essential Oil
Used for centuries as a therapeutic herb, bergamot essential oil has been marketed for a variety of conditions. With advancements in scientific research, find out which historic health benefits are gaining support.
In a 2006 clinical study, bergamot essential oil was observed demonstrate antibacterial activity against foodborne pathogens that can lead to food poisoning.4
When directly applied to raw chicken or cabbage, results indicate that bergamot inhibited the growth of bacteria commonly found on raw food (ampylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus) for a small area surrounding the point of contact.4 Compared to lemon and orange essential oils, bergamot was proven to be the most effective essential oil.
Note: Although bergamot essential oil shows promise as natural protection against bacteria in industrial food preparation, it has not been proven safe for use in preparing or cooking food at home.
A 2007 study conducted on bergamot essential oil investigated its use as a natural anti-inflammatory remedy.
In an animal model, researchers noted that the oil has anti-inflammatory properties that, in high doses, were comparable to the effects of a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug.5
More research needs to be done on how this benefit of bergamot essential oil can be translated into a human therapeutic option. Still, it does support the benefit of adding bergamot essential oil to bath water and massage oil.
In a recent clinical trial, the aroma of bergamot essential oil was evaluated for its effects on mood and the parasympathetic nervous system. 41 subjects were exposed to water vapor or water vapor enhanced with bergamot essential oil.2
The results suggest that when individuals inhaled with water vapor enhanced with bergamot essential oil, heart rate and cortisol levels in saliva (two indicators of anxiety and stress) were reduced by approximately 6% and 12%, respectively.2
A recent clinical study of the effects of bergamot essential oil on vascular tension in animal subjects indicates that inhaling diluted bergamot essential oil may relax the smooth muscle tissue in arteries.3
This finding helps support the practice of using bergamot essential oil in aromatherapy, massage and bath therapies to relieve physiological stress.
Bergamot Essential Oil Side Effects
Bergamot essential oil is considered safe when used in a diffuser, or applied topically diluted in a carrier oil.6
Phototoxicity (skin irritation from light, especially ultraviolet light such as sunshine) is a common side effect of bergamot and other citrus essential oils.5 To reduce the possibility of phototoxicity, do not apply bergamot essential oil to skin that will be exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time.
Do not ingest bergamot essential oil unless you are under the strict supervision of a health care professional. Always read and follow the directions on the product.
Children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with a professional before using bergamot essential oil.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Bergamot. (2008, April 2).New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 25, 2017 from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Bergamot&oldid=678688 – View reference
- Watanabe, E., Kuchta, K., Kimura, M., Rauwald, H., W, Kamei, T., Imanishi, J. (2015). Effects of Bergamot Citrus bergamia Essential Oil Aromatherapy on Mood States, Parasympathetic Nervous System Activity, and Salivary Cortisol Levels in 41 Healthy Females. Complementary Medicine Research,22. 43-49. DOI: 1159/000380989.
- Kang, P., Suh, S.H., Min, S.S., Seol, G.H. (2013). The essential oil of Citrus bergamia Risso induces vasorelaxation of the mouse aorta by activating K(+) channels and inhibiting Ca(2+) influx. The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology,65(5). 745-749. DOI 10.1111/jphp.12031.
- Fisher, K., Phillips, C.A. (2006) 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. 101:6. 1232-1240. DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2006.03035.
- Karaca, M., Özbek, H. Him, A., Tütüncü, M., Akkan, H. A., Kaplanoğlu, V. (2009) Investigation of Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Bergamot Oil. Medical Investigations Society. Retrieved February 25, 2017 from https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/49602/1/gm07041.pdf
- National Capital Poison Center.(N.D). Essential Oils: Poisonous when Misused. Retrieved February 27, 2017 from http://www.poison.org/articles/2014-jun/essential-oils – View reference.