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Bergamot oil: the health and aromatherapy benefits of Bergamot essential oil

Updated on July 26, 2013

An introduction to bergamot essential oil

Bergamot oil is distilled from the rind of the Citrus Aurantium fruit, which is a pear-shaped, grapefruit-like citrus fruit.

The bergamot tree grows well in the Mediterranean and other warm, dry climates, but it is remarkably adaptive, and also thrives throughout much of Europe.

Bergamot essential oil has a distinctly citrus smell, but it is also warm and a little spicy; it's been used for decades in commercial facial, skin, and haircare products.

Bergamot is also used in lots of aromatherapy products, both for massage and for other essential oil aromatherapy treatments.

The flavouring is an essential part of my favourite two types of tea - Earl Grey and Lady Grey are both types of bergamot tea. It give the tea a distinctive and delicate flavour, and the bergamot fragrance steaming from the cup of lovely, too.

Bergamot oranges are also used in cooking, including some types of marmalade.

Illustration of bergamot leaves and oranges from Koehler's Medicinal-Plants 1887
Illustration of bergamot leaves and oranges from Koehler's Medicinal-Plants 1887

The anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties of bergamot oil

Like many other essential oils, bergamot has anti-biotic and anti-microbial properties, which makes it useful for a variety of different uses.

Firstly, it is an excellent addition to natural and aromatherapy skin care products, because it can help keep acne and other skin infections at bay.

Secondly, the antiseptic properties of bergamot essential oil make it wonderful as a scalp treatment, and, if used on the scalp over time, it can make the hair healthier, shinier, and fuller. Such shampoo also leaves a lovely, subtle bergamot scent in the hair.

Bergamot oil can also be used to keep wounds from becoming infected, as it will kill bacteria and will keep it from growing again within the skin while the injury heals.

Lavender bergamot soap is quite a popular aromatherapy product, as it combines two wonderful scents which are both great for the skin. The combination of scents is great for banishing strong odours left on the skin, such as from chopping onion or garlic.

Bergamot oil's other health benefits

As has been mentioned, bergamot essential oil is already widely used in the world of cosmetics.

But it doesn't just smell lovely and keep the skin from getting infected; it can also cause scars to disappear over time, and helps stretch marks fade, too. 

Bergamot oil is a cicatrisant, which means that it fades the appearance of minor scars, and also evens out skin tone by regulating the distribution of melanin and pigment in the skin.

Besides all this, the scent and anti-bacterial properties of bergamot oil make it a great natural deoderant, for people who don't fancy artificial, chemical sprays. In such products, it's often combined with lemongrass oil and cedarwood essential oil.

Taking bergamot oil internally

As with all other essential oils, you ought to consult a qualified aromatherapist or herbalist before ingesting bergamot essential oil, as it can be dangerous if taken in the wrong dosages or with the wrong medicines.

  1. When taken internally, bergamot essential oil will help treat colon complaints, kidney infections, and bladder infections;
  2. Not only can bergamot oil cure infections, but it can also relieve fevers, first by fighting off the bacteria and viruses that cause fevers in the first place, and secondly by causing sweating and the release of sebum, which, in turn, cools the body;
  3. As if all this wasn't enough to make you want to use bergamot oil next time you're sick, bergamot oil is also an analgesic. Taken internally, it can stimulate the release of hormones that will help your body feel less pain, and even the scent of bergamot oil in the air can lift the mood and ease feelings of aches and pains, especially when they are depression-related;
  4. Bergamot essential oil is sometimes used by pharmaceutical companies in anti-depressants, as it is both an anti-depressant in itself and a stimulant;
  5. The scent of bergamot or the oil, taken internally, stimulates the release of certain hormones, many of which have to do with making a person feel balanced and happy;
  6. Bergamot oil can also help regulate the metabolism, which can help curb the emotional eating that is often related to depression or seasonal affective disorder, and because it helps the body release the hormones, juices, and insulin that help promote quick, healthy digestion, it can be a problem-solver in men and women with digestive-tract issues, as well.

Aromatherapy products with bergamot oil

Although it seems like an oxymoron, bergamot essential oil is also a relaxant.

It is possible for a substance to be both stimulating and relaxing as long as the relaxing part doesn't necessarily make you fall asleep.

Bergamot oil is relaxing in a way that leaves one free from unneccessary worry and anxiety but energetic enough to face the day ahead.

This quality in bergamot essential oil makes it helpful for those struggling with the side-effects of an overly stressful life, which can include high blood pressure, over-eating, sleeplessness, and all-around fatigue.

Bergamot oil is often, therefore, used in aromatherapy products aimed both at energising and relaxation.

Bergamot oil can be used in many ways. Spread throughout a room using a spray bottle or aromatherapy diffuser, bergamot can boost a bad mood and relieve depression, but it will also have these effects if mixed with alcohol and sprayed on as a perfume or when blended with a carrier oil and used for a relaxing aromatherapy massage.

Applied on the skin, bergamot oil relieve infection and pain, and it can fight infections when taken internally, as well.

Bergamot oil cautions and contra-indications

Bergaptene, one of the chemical components of bergamot essential oil, is photo-toxic, which means that it becomes poisonous when exposed to sunlight.

This means that bergamot oil must always be stored in a dark bottle in a dark place.

Also, if you are using bergamot oil as part of your skin care routine, be sure to stay out of the sun for a while after you use it.

Some bergamot oils have been mostly stripped of bergaptene, which makes them safer, but overall, you should avoid using bergamot oil on the hair or skin shortly before being exposed to sunlight.


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    • Avamum profile image

      Sarita Harbour 7 years ago from Yellowknife, Canada

      Nice hub. I love the fragrance of Earl Grey tea, and will look out for the lavendar-bergamot soap. Thanks for the info!

    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 8 years ago from England

      Thanks Matt, glad you liked the hub

    • mattn78 profile image

      mattn78 8 years ago

      Helpful info.. in your article.


    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 8 years ago from England

      I agree LDS - in fact, there's a link to Italian bergamot growers and an article about them from the BBC in this hub.

    • LDSMedia profile image

      LDSMedia 8 years ago from Cincinnati, OH

      The most effective Bergamot essential oil comes from the plant grown in Italy. The oil from plants grown on the ivory coast is not as effective at least for me.

    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 8 years ago from England

      Thanks, Edenvale.

    • profile image

      EdenvaleShoppes 8 years ago

      Informative Hub!!


    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 8 years ago from England

      Thanks, glad you both found it of interest.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Another wonderful and informative hub! Thanks!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Interesting. I learned something.