What is Bergamot? Bergamot Essential Oil Benefits & Uses
What is Bergamot? Bergamot essential oil comes from the rinds of the fruits that grow on bergamot orange trees. These trees are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, but today, they’re grown in many parts of the world. Italy is especially known for its bergamot trees. In fact, that’s exactly what Bergamo is known for in southern Italy. The plant itself can grow up to four meters tall, with beautifully white, star-shaped flowers. The bergamot fruit, like a lemon or lime, is too bitter to eat on its own, but it can complement many flavors in a dish. It’s arguably best known for its use in Earl Gray tea, but there are many bergamot essential oil benefits and uses.
What Does Bergamot Smell and Taste Like?
Bergamot has a distinctive citrusy smell that’s soothing and uplifting. It’s a highly aromatic essential oil that’s often combined with other relaxing essential oils, like lavender and ylang ylang.
It’s a common scent used in perfumes, scented personal care items, and food items.
Fresh bergamot has a tart, bitter and spicy taste. While they’re not eaten fresh, they are a great source of potassium and vitamins C, B1, B2, and A.
Bergamot is often used to flavor custards, cookies, cocktails, syrups, mayonnaise, and even pesto.
Bergamot Essential Oil Uses
There are many bergamot essential oil uses, including:
When diffused, bergamot can help you feel more relaxed and less stressed. While diffusers are a popular way to enjoy aromatherapy, you can get similar benefits by adding:
- A few drops of bergamot oil and a carrier oil to your favorite body lotion.
- It to homemade candles.
- It to your favorite personal care products, like shampoo and body washes.
- A few drops to a cloth or handkerchief to inhale the oil on-the-go.
Aromatherapy may soothe pain, help you relax, alleviate headaches, fight bacteria and even boost digestion.
Bergamot oil is often added to perfumes and colognes. Its refreshing scent is uplifting and complements other scents. In fact, bergamot is one of the most popular top note ingredients in fragrances.
Bergamot is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help keep your skin looking its best. If you suffer from acne, adding this essential oil to your moisturizer or other skin care products may help combat breakouts.
The oil also has some pain-relieving properties that may help with painful pimples and cysts.
If you plan to use this oil as a spot treatment for acne or the occasional pimple, make sure that you’re diluting the oil with a carrier oil. Just apply to your blemishes at night and allow the treatment to work its magic. Make sure that you don’t apply this oil during the day or wear it out in the sun.
Many people incorporate bergamot oil into their haircare routines. Those with curly hair claim this oil can help soothe frizz and soften their curls.
There is also anecdotal evidence that bergamot oil may help with an irritated scalp. This is likely due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
For scalp treatment, you can add a few drops of bergamot oil to your favorite carrier oil and massage it into your scalp. Leave it on overnight for the best results.
Bergamot Essential Oil Benefits
People have been using bergamot for centuries for health and beauty purposes, and new research is starting to back up many folk medicine claims. Some of the many benefits of bergamot essential oil include:
It’s not surprising that bergamot is one of the top essential oils used in calming and relaxing oil blends. The sweet citrus scent of this oil is soothing and can help ease stress.
- In 2013, the Current Drug Targets journal reported that aromatherapy using bergamot may help ease anxiety, depression, and mood disorders by telling the brain to release serotonin and dopamine.
- A study from 2015 in Japan found that inhaling a combination of bergamot oil and water vapor helped ease anxiety.
- A 2017 study found that inhaling bergamot oil for 15 minutes improved the participant's positive feelings compared to a control group.
Stress affects virtually everyone at some point, but many people worldwide deal with it on a daily basis. Having a simple, natural way to help combat stress may help improve life quality and reduce the adverse effects of stress.
May Help with Pain and Inflammation
A few drops of bergamot oil may help ease inflammation and pain. Two compounds in the oil are believed to produce these effects: carvacrol and linalool.
What does science have to say about these compounds? A review of studies concluded that carvacrol and linalool had anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, and analgesic effects. The study also noted that there are potential toxicological effects that require more research.
There are many essential oils that could help reduce nerve pain and bergamot is one of them. A 2015 study found bergamot essential oil was effective at reducing neuropathic pain.
Excess use of any essential oil can cause negative side effects. And if used topically to help with inflammation and pain, it’s important to dilute bergamot oil with a carrier oil.
May Reduce Cholesterol
There is some evidence that bergamot oil may help reduce cholesterol levels. One review of animal and human studies found that the flavonoids in the oil helped reduce lipid levels. However, researchers were unsure of why they had this effect.
A separate animal study from 2018 had similar findings. In this case, the polyphenols in the oil were believed to ease inflammation in the livers of rats that were recovering from fatty liver disease.
May Fight Bacteria
Bergamot may also help fight bacteria thanks to its linalool compound. Linalool, as it turns out, may have a variety of beneficial effects. Along with helping ease pain and inflammation (like we discussed earlier), it may also help fight bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses.
One study looked at bergamot’s ability to kill bacteria on cabbage leaves and chicken skin. The oil appeared to be effective against:
- Bacillus cereus
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Campylobacter jejuni
- E. coli O157
- Listeria monocytogenes
Researchers noted that additional studies are needed to confirm these antibacterial effects, but the results are promising.
Bergamot essential oil has a pleasant and relaxing citrusy scent that can help ease stress. But it also contains beneficial compounds that can fight against bacteria, pain, and inflammation. It’s an oil that’s considered generally safe (when used properly) and can easily be added to your essential oils rotation.