Some of the benefits of using bergamot oil includes relaxation of the muscles, treats depression, reduces stress, improves digestion, antibiotic properties, good for the skin, soothes the nerves, etc. to name a few.
What is Bergamot oil?
The Bergamot Orange (Citrus bergamia) is a citrus fruit, usually of the size of an orange either yellow or green in colour considering the ripeness of the fruit. A great deal of research has shown it to be a hybrid of lemon or bitter orange. The word bergamot is etymologically derived from the Italian word ‘bergamotto’ ultimately of Turkish bey amudu or bey amut ( Prince’s pear or Prince of pears). It is a small tree that blooms during the winter. The fruit has a less sour and more bitter taste.
The scent of the bergamot oil is similar to that of a light orange peel oil with a floral taste. It’s production is limited to the coastal of the province of Reggio di Calabria in Italy due to its favourable climate. It is also grown in Argentina, Brazil, Turkey and South East Asia where it had its roots. The fruit of the bergamot orange is edible and the juice or oil extracted from the outer skin is used for flavouring teas and other confectionery. It is widely used in perfumery and popular in aromatherapy and skin care creams.
The earlier technique of extracting the bergamot oil was slow-folding or ‘sfumatura’ but today it is done using machines known as ‘peelers’ which scrape the outer skin of the fruit under running water to get an emulsion. It is a clear liquid sometimes green or greenish yellow in colour and consists mostly of volatile fraction and a minute percentage of residual fraction. The oil is sometimes subject to adulteration (mixed with cheap distilled essences to reduce its quality) as it is produced in small quantities. To protect the reputation of the oil the Italian government has introduced strict controls such as testing and providing purity certificates.
The essence extracted from the skin of the fruit is used for flavouring Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas. It is used to make marmalade in Italy and it is an important flavourant in ‘snus’ a smokeless tobacco of Norway and Sweden. The first record of the use of this oil as a fragrant was in 1714, in cologne. Bergamot oil has antidepressant, tonic, deodorant and stimulant properties. The juice has been used in medicines against malaria. The fruit of the bergamot orange is edible.
Bergamot Oil: Benefits and Side Effects
Benefits of bergamot oil
Treat depression and anxiety
The oil is rich in limonene and alpha pinene and can be used to treat depression, increasing blood circulation in the body and stimulate energy. It stimulates the secretion of hormones and restores hormonal balance.
It stimulates the secretion of enzymes, bile and digestive acids thus improving the process of digestion and combat issues such as constipation.
Some components in the oil have antibiotic properties. It is used in special skin care soaps and can be added to bath water or shampoo to protect the skin and the scalp from infections.
Reduces Body Pain
The oil reduces body pain from minor headaches to muscle sprains by reducing sensitivity of the nerves to the pain.
Soothes the nerves
The oil is great for soothing the nerves. It alleviates signs of tension, stress from the body by stimulating the secretion of dopamine and serotonin.
Great for the Skin
The bergamot oil is also an antiseptic protecting open wounds from becoming septic and helps in quick regeneration of skin cells to heal broken skin quickly.
It can be used to kill oral or digestive cavities by consuming it either directly or in mouthwash.
This oil could be diffused in classrooms or workplaces for aroma and reduce tension and stress. Bergamot oil is also used for anxiety treatment. It has a calming effect on the mind and thus helpful in treating nervous disorders. It has a good sedative effect and calms the nerves quickly by just smelling it.
Help in treating dyslipidaemia
The highly concentrated extract of the oil can be useful for patients having dyslipidaemia (abnormal amount of lipids in blood).
How to use the Bergamot Oil ?
One of the simplest ways to use it is via inhalation and massage. For the inhalation process just a few drops on the aroma diffuser can work for 3-4 hours a day. For massage only 1 percent of the oil should be mixed with any other secondary oil and applied on the body. Massage should be done on the back and shoulders where the stress is felt more.
Having drops of the bergamot oil in the handkerchief is handy and helpful when everyone the anxiety arises. These three processes fall under aromatherapy ( a therapeutic process to relax the mind and body using essential fragrant oils either through aerial diffusion, direct inhalation or massages).
Side effects of Bergamot Oil
The bergamot oil has certain restrictions and side effects.
- It is unsafe when used on the skin topically as it is photosensitive due to the component bergamottin which absorbs ultraviolet rays and can make the skin sensitive to sun and cause skin cancer.
- It is recommended not to expose the skin to sunlight when the oil is applied directly on the body, until it is completely absorbed by the body.
- Further the oil should be stored in a dark bottle in a cool dry place as exposure to sunlight may result in the content becoming poisonous. The irritation may continue up to 72 hours after its use. Those working with bergamot can have skin diseases.
- Bergamot oil is possibly unsafe for children. If consumed in large amounts, can cause side effects such as convulsions and death. The oil should not be used if one is pregnant or breastfeeding.
- The oil may lower the blood sugar levels so the blood sugar should be monitored. It should be stopped to use two weeks before any surgery.
- Bergamot oil may cause skin irritation if not diluted heavily. It may also decrease potassium levels in the body causing muscle cramps and muscle twitching.
- The dosage of the bergamot oil depends on the age and the conditions in which it is to be used. It is not to be given directly to children.
- Using bergamot oil as aromatherapy may reduce mental alertness due to it’s relaxing effects.