BERGAMOT OIL: USES, BENEFITS & RECIPES
- The fruit of the Bergamot tree is a cross between the Citrus limetta (a species of Citrus that can be referred to as either “Sweet Lemons” or “Sweet Limes”) and the Orange. It is slightly pear-shaped and slightly yellowish in color.
- There are numerous theories about how the Bergamot fruit received its name, the most popular one being that it is named after the Italian city in which it was originally cultivated and sold.
- Bergamot Essential Oil was used historically in Italian folk medicine and in Ayurvedic medicine to treat problems related to digestion, skin health, and fever to name a few ailments it could effectively relieve.
- Adding Bergamot Oil to regular black tea resulted in the creation of the popular Earl Grey Tea.
- The Bergamot Essential Oil that is currently produced in Calabria, Italy is considered to be of the highest quality in the international trading market.
HISTORY OF BERGAMOT OIL
Citrus bergamia, better known as Bergamot, belongs to the Rutaceae family, which is better identified by the name Citrus. This tree’s fruit is a cross between the lemon and the orange, giving the small, round fruit a slight pear-shaped, and a yellow coloring. Some think the fruit appears to look like a mini orange. Bergamot is a popular scent in the perfumery industry, and its powerful fragrance makes it an important constituent in many perfumes in which it acts as the top note.
There are theories about how the fruit received the name Bergamot. One theory states that its name is Turkish for “the Lord’s pear,” and the other theory states that the name is derived from the Italian city of Bergamo where it was widely cultivated and first sold. The fruit is also produced in Argentina, Brazil, Algeria, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and South-East Asia where it has its roots. The Bergamot tree grows well in Europe, despite being a tropical plant.
Historically, Bergamot fruit juice was used by the indigenous people of Italy to treat malaria and to expel intestinal worms, while Bergamot Oil was used in Italian folk medicine as an antiseptic and to reduce fevers. When Bergamot Essential Oil was used as a flavoring in black tea, the tea became known as Earl Grey Tea. In Ayurvedic medicine, Bergamot Oil has been used to soothe acne, skin rashes, sores and sore throats, and bladder infections. It is also used to reduce fever, obesity, depression, eczema, gingivitis, flatulence, loss of appetite, and compulsive behaviors.
The current Bergamot Essential Oil production in Italy’s coastal region of Calabria makes up 80% of the world’s total production and is considered to be of the highest quality in the international trading market. Bergamot is among the most popular essential oils used today for its effectiveness, health benefits, and its wide variety of applications.
BENEFITS OF BERGAMOT OIL
The main chemical constituents of Bergamot Essential Oil are: Limonene, Linalyl Acetate, Linalool, Pinene, Bergaptene, Terpineol, Nerol, Neryl Acetate, β-Bisabolene, Geraniol, Geraniol Acetate, and Myrcene.
Limonene is believed to exhibit the following activity:
- Appetite suppressant
Used in aromatherapy applications, Bergamot Essential Oil is known to help reduce anxiety and stress and thereby alleviate symptoms of depression. The oil’s α-Pinene and Limonene constituents make it uplifting, refreshing, and stimulating. Inhaling Bergamot Oil can also maintain metabolism by increasing the hormones and fluids that aid digestion and nutrient absorption. This can reduce constipation by making bowel movements more regular. The relaxing, soothing aroma of Bergamot Essential Oil is sedative and can assist with sleep disorders like insomnia by putting the user into a restful state. The citrus scent of Bergamot Oil makes it a freshening room spray for eliminating unpleasant odors. The anti-spasmodic nature of Bergamot Oil means that those who suffer from respiratory issues such as chronic coughing may find relief from the convulsions of a coughing fit. Its anti-congestive and expectorant properties clear nasal passages and promote easier breathing by loosening phlegm and mucus, thereby eliminating more of the germs and toxins that cause illness.
Used cosmetically or topically in general, Bergamot Oil can disinfect the skin by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. When added to bath water or soaps, it relieves cracks on the skin and heels while also protecting skin against infections. Used in hair products, it can enhance hair’s sheen and prevent hair loss. By stimulating hormones that reduce the sensation of pain, it can relieve headaches, muscle aches, and sprains. As a cicatrizant, Bergamot Oil can balance skin’s oil production and reduce the appearance of unwanted marks and scars by evening out the skin tone. By using it in a natural deodorant, Bergamot Oil can eliminate the bacteria that causes body odor.
Used medicinally, Bergamot Essential Oil works as a febrifuge, which helps the body to recover from illness by fighting infections that cause fever. By promoting the secretion of perspiration, it reduces body temperature while cleansing the body of toxins through pores and glands. Bergamot Oil is known to have properties that make it effective for promoting the fast healing of wounds and eczema by protecting them from becoming septic and by preventing new infections from forming.
As illustrated, Bergamot Essential Oil is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:
- COSMETIC: Stimulant, Deodorant, Tonic, Anti-bacterial, Soothing
- ODOROUS: Stimulant, Anti-depressant, Deodorant, Anti-spasmodic, Sedative, Febrifuge, Calmative, Soothing, Analgesic, Antibiotic, Antiseptic
- MEDICINAL: Analgesic, Stimulant, Diuretic, Anti-septic, Anti-depressant, Tonic, Anti-biotic, Anti-spasmodic, Sedative, Disinfectant, Febrifuge, Digestive, Calmative, Antibacterial, Antiviral
CULTIVATING AND HARVESTING QUALITY BERGAMOT OIL
The Citrus bergamia tree, or the Bergamot Tree, is an evergreen tree that was originally grown by planting seeds or cuttings. When the roots began to rot in 1862, almost all the citrus orchards in Calabria were destroyed. Bergamot then began to be cultivated by grafting Bergamot fruits or buds onto Bitter Oranges. Despite the tree being hardy, the fruit itself is the most delicate of all citrus fruits and must be protected against frost, which will damage it.
In Winter, small, white, fragrant star-shaped flowers begin to blossom on the tree. In the summer, the tree produces yellow pear-shaped fruits, which appear to be a cross between a Sweet Lime/Lemon and an Orange and are commonly used in culinary and perfumery applications. The Bergamot fruit turns yellow as it ripens, and its appearance is comparable to that of a small orange.
The tree does not produce any fruit until 3 years have passed after grafting. The tree fully matures after 12 years of age, at which time it can produce hundreds of fruits. After the tree has matured to 15 years of age, it can produce approximately 1 kilo of essential oil. Between the ages of 70-80, the tree’s productivity begins to decline and it becomes unusable.
In Italy, when the Bergamot fruits are harvested, they are hand-picked between the months of November and January when they are almost ripe, then they are cleaned before extraction occurs.
HOW IS BERGAMOT OIL EXTRACTED?
Bergamot Essential Oil is derived from the cold expression of the Bergamot fruit peel when the fruit is nearly ripe. In the past, Bergamot expression, which was also called cold-pressing, was done by hand and involved pressing the fruit peel until the essential oils were squeezed out from the cells inside the peels.
Today, a mechanical device often carries out the same process; the fruit skin is peeled and then exposed to centrifugal force, which separates the essential oils from water and fruit fragments. 100 Bergamot fruits will yield approximately 3 oz. of Bergamot Essential Oil. After cold-expression, the color of Bergamot Oil ranges from light yellow to a dark green. Its scent is a fresh, sweet, and citrusy top note with a spicy undertone and a floral nuance.
USES OF BERGAMOT OIL
The uses for Bergamot Essential Oil are abundant, ranging from medicinal and odorous to cosmetic. Its many forms include oils, gels, lotions, soaps, shampoos, sprays, and candle making.
Diluted with a carrier oil and used topically, Bergamot Oil relieves muscle aches and body pains including headaches and discomforts associated with arthritis. Its anti-inflammatory properties relieve redness, itching, and swelling. Due to its antiseptic and astringent activities, Bergamot Essential Oil makes an excellent addition to cosmetics that are meant to help achieve glowing and evenly toned skin. As a toner, it cleanses pores and strengthens skin tissues. Blending Bergamot Oil into shampoo and body washes and rubbing it into the scalp and body may strengthen hair, stimulate its growth, and relieve itchiness and irritation on the scalp and skin. When combined with the essential oils of Chamomile and Fennel, this blend can be massaged into the abdominal area to relieve indigestion and gas.
In aromatherapy, Bergamot acts as a natural perfume and a non-toxic air freshener that creates a relaxing atmosphere and deodorizes unpleasant scents. When diffused, its carminative properties offer relief to the digestive system. It can be added to natural homemade scented cosmetics, candles, and soaps. It is known to be beneficial for creating a feeling of being refreshed and renewed, for uplifting negative moods to prevent depression, and for relieving lethargy, nervousness, and insomnia. When Bergamot Essential Oil is blended into a moisturizer such as a face cream or lotion, it can soothe and promote the faster healing of cuts, acne, psoriasis, and chicken pox.
For a natural yet powerful anti-microbial and anti-viral home cleaning agent, Bergamot Essential Oil can be blended with Grapefruit Essential Oil then diluted in water and shaken inside a spray bottle before being put to use as a surface cleaner. This mix will not only disinfect but also deodorize by eliminating odor-causing bacteria.
A GUIDE TO BERGAMOT OIL VARIETIES & THEIR BENEFITS
|BERGAMOT VARIETY & BOTANICAL NAME||COUNTRY OF ORIGIN||BENEFITS OF OIL|
|Bergamot (Calabrian) Essential Oil
|Bergamot (Natural Blend) Essential Oil
|Bergamot - Bergaptene Free (Calabrian) Essential Oil
|Bergamot - Bergaptene Free (Natural Blend) Essential Oil
|Bergamot Organic Essential Oil
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR BERGAMOT OIL
As per NAHA guidelines, New Directions Aromatics (NDA) does not recommend the ingestion of essential oils. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using Bergamot Oil for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women and those taking prescription drugs are especially advised not to use Bergamot Essential Oil without the medical advice of a physician. Individuals with a potassium deficiency are also advised not to use this oil, as Bergamot is known to deplete potassium in the body, the consequences of which include muscle cramps and twitching. Bergamot Oil should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.
Prior to using Bergamot Oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting the essential oil in a carrier oil and applying a small amount to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Bergamot Oil must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Once applied topically, sun exposure should be avoided, as Bergamot Oil may sensitize the skin to UV rays. This is especially true of Bergamot Oil containing the phototoxic chemical compound Bergaptene, which can cause skin irritation when skin is exposed to sunlight. Skin irritation includes blisters, scabs, redness, and changes in skin pigmentation. Bergaptene-free Bergamot Essential Oil is relatively non-toxic and non-irritating. To prevent photosensitivity, those using Bergamot Oil for topical application should wait 72 hours before spending prolonged periods outdoors, especially in regions with hot climates.
New Directions Aromatics Inc.
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