AP NEWS

Bergamot Essential Oil

February 16, 2019
The benefits of essential oils, including bergamot, are vast.

Bergamot (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia) is a small evergreen tree originating from the Mediterranean. One reference I located online suggested this plant came about because an Italian grafted a lemon branch on to a bergamot pear tree. The result was a fruit containing the “qualities, virtues and properties of both lemons and pears.” quod.lib.umich.edu/d/did/did2222.0001.782/--bergamot-oranges?rgn=main;view=fulltext

This tree is primarily grown for its lemon scented oil. The fruit “resembles a pear-shaped orange” that can continue producing “for up to 60 years if managed well.” It is grown almost exclusively “in the coastal plains of southern Italy.” The oil is commonly used in cologne and soap. The bitter fruit from this tree is used “to make marmalade and to flavor liquers.” https://plantvillage.psu.edu/topics/bergamot/infos

Not to be mistaken for Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), the essential oil of the bergamot has been called a powerful mood booster. The American College of Healthcare Sciences states there are “historical and anecdotal reports of the calming and cheering effects of bergamot.” They cite a few studies supporting these claims and mention it is also beneficial for worry. ACHS recommends a calming floral blend using lavender, ylang ylang, and bergamot: info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center lists bergamot essential oil as being used to heal the skin and reduce anxiety. They suggest diluting essential oils with a carrier oil before applying it to the “tops of feet, arms, wrists, neck and behind the ear.” w exnermedical.osu.edu/blog/essential-oils

Essential oils can be quite potent. A safe ratio of essential oil to carrier oil is approximately two to three drops of essential oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil. Commonly used carrier oils are coconut, olive, jojoba, sweet almond and grapeseed: healthline.com/health/carrier-oil#mix-with-essential-oils

The University of Kentucky has a nifty aromatherapy handout online. They list bergamot oil as being “fresh, lively, fruity and sweet.“They also mention it is an “excellent deodorizer” with benefits that are uplifting and inspiring: uky.edu/hr/sites/www.uky.edu.hr/files/worklife/documents/Aromatherapy%2BHandout.pdf

The ACHS has another idea for incorporating bergamot essential oil into your life. They suggest adding a few drops of the oil to a damp washcloth, then tossing it in your clothes dryer: info.achs.edu/blog/green-cleaning-swaps-how-to-trade-toxic-cleaners-for-natural-essential-oils-in-your-home

Unfortunately, our climate is not hospitable to growing bergamot outdoors, but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy its wonderful scent. One site did mention that bergamot is phototoxic. This means you should not apply bergamot essential oil to your skin if you will be in the sun. No one wants a chemically induced “sunburn.”

Kelley Rawlsky has an M.S. in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: PeopleAndPlantsTogether @gmail.com or follow us on Facebook.