Bergamot oil Health Benefits, Uses, Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 7:34 min

Bergamot is a hybrid from the citrus group, which may have originated from the sweet lime (Citrus lametta) and bitter orange (Citrus × aurantium)

Name Bergamot
Lat. Name Citrus bergamia
Synonyms Bergamot
Origin Southern Italy (Calabria)
Price per 10ml 18,00

Bergamot, today, is mainly cultivated in Sicily, India and Western Africa. In contrast to lemon or orange, it is not planted in order to bear fruit, but mainly for the production of essential oils. The oil of bergamot from Sicily is particularly valuable. It is mainly used in the perfume industry.

Psychological benefits

Bergamot oil has is both stimulating and calming to the psyche. It helps relieve anxiety and decrease the frequency of mood swings. This has been proven by several studies - including some in mental hospitals, where positive results were seen across a general population of patients.

Physical effects

Bergamot oil also has many positive effects on the body and skin. It counteracts inflammation and can therefore be used against various skin diseases. It has an antispasmodic and stabilizing effect on the digestive system. Bergamot oil's antipyretic effect can be used successfully to reduce the fever and nausea typical of infections. It also stimulates activity of the liver and kidneys. For this reason, bergamot oil is commonly included in detoxifying diets. Since bergamot oil also has properties beneficial to the pancreas, many have researched it in seeking a cure for diabetes. In another clinical study it was proven that cholesterol levels decreased by 20% even in small doses - 500mg of Bergamot oil over a period of 7 days. According to these studies, bergamot oil is also said to be able to reduce pain.

The bitter substances in the oil also reduces the desire for sweets, which is also conducive to maintaining dietary restrictions in weight loss process. Animal studies have shown that curcumin (found in the oil) prevents cells from absorbing fat. In 2015, a study was performed at the Velleja Research Institute in Milan in obese people. It was shown that bergamot oil delivers excellent results compared to conventional slimming products.

Application | Uses

With over 300 different flavours, bergamot oil contains more ingredients than most other essential oils. Today it is included as a elegant aromatic note in almost all perfumes. Its fragrance is particularly characteristic in eau de colognes and eau de toilettes. Nevertheless, it is also used in many other cosmetic products, such as soaps and shampoos. A particularly famous product for which bergamot oil is a key property, is the colognes; which both Napoleon and Beethoven were famous for using.

The scent of bergamot oil is considered to be the scent of the Victorian era. Bergamot oil is also used to add a scent to Earl Gray tea and various tobacco products. In addition to essential oils, various other products are made from bergamot, such as jam, syrup and other foods. Bergamot oil is contained in typical Turkish Akide sweets and in sweets from the French Nancy. In Calabria, bergamot oil is heavily diluted with olive oil and used as a tanning accelerator.

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If you use bergamot oil as a fragrance oil, you can place the oil in its pure form into a fragrance lamp or a diffuser. When used on the skin, however, there are some important things to consider, as some ingredients in the oil may be phototoxic (cause sensitivity to light: similar to a bad sunburn). These 'furocoumarins' in the bergamot essential oil react with sunlight to form toxins that can damage the skin. You should therefore make sure that you only apply bergamot oil to areas of the body that are not exposed to direct sunlight. Otherwise, avoid exposing the massaged areas with sunlight for the following 24 hours. Also, the bergamot oil should never be used in its pure form on the skin, because it is very irritating to skin.

Various oil mixtures are available for use against imbalances of mood and the psyche. To achieve the desired effect, simply mix the essential oils for the listed problems as indicated:

  • Relieve anger and pressure - Roman chamomile, bergamot and sweet orange

  • Nervousness and restlessness - lavender, neroli and bergamot

  • Relieve frustration and a generally negative mood - bergamot, sweet orange, neroli

  • To improve a Bitter and brooding mood - Roman chamomile, bergamot, straw flower oil

Manufacturing

Only the skin of the fruit is used to make the oil. To extract the oil, the peel of the fruit is cold pressed. In the past, this laborious work was carried out by hand. The peel of the bergamot contains so much oil that in the past the peels were not physically squeezed, but simply dabbed with a hard sponge. The oil obtained from this method was considered to be of particularly high quality.

Ingredients

Terpineoles are fragrances. They are used, for example, in soaps and perfumes. The most common is a mixture of α- and γ-terpineol for an intense lilac scent.

Sabinen is used to treat skin warts. With strong overdoses, Sabinen can cause nausea, vomiting, and even kidney failure and uncontrolled bleeding.

Myrcene is used to produce fragrances and flavours that are used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries.

Flavonoids: Medicines containing flavonoids have therapeutic uses. They are used, among other things, as a superficial prophylaxis against varicose veins and because of their edema-protective, vascular-protective effects and because of their good antihypertensive, inotropic effect as diuretics.

Lime: Certainly, lime is also found in lemons. Today it is a classic fragrance, which is often used in cleaning agents.

Terpinen-4-ol produces strong lavender scents in the taste and smell industry.

Betulin has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also being used to treat malaria, tumors and HIV.

Linolenic acid is an essential nutrient that is required for the formation of omega-3 fatty acids. It also plays an important role in the inflammatory process.

Bisabolen: β-Bisabolen is a component of essential oils of lemon and oregano. It has a balsamic smell and is approved as a food additive in Europe.

Geraniol is used in chemistry for artificial synthetic purposes.

Nerylacetate has a sweet, floral smell reminiscent of oranges and roses.

Geranial is an important fragrance in perfumes and deodorants, and the cautionary warning pheromone released by leaf cutter ants.

Cymen is toxic if ingested. It leads to diarrhoea, headache, nausea, loss of consciousness, vomiting and drowsiness if large quantities are swallowed.

History

Bergamot was first described in Italy in the 17th century. At that time the word “bergamotta” referred to a pear variety from Turkey and meant something like 'men's pear'. 'Bergamotta' was then also used in Italy as a term for citrus fruits, from the end of the 17th century.

The first known commercial cultivation took place around 1750 when the Italian Cavalieri Nicola Parisi cultivated the first bergamot plantation. Around 1850, around 1250 hectares were planted with bergamots in Calabria. Initially, the commercial cultivation of bergamot was not very lucrative for farmers, as the British brokers of bergamot oil in particular made large profits. This changed in the 1960s when a farmer in Italy could expect a yield of around 50,000 Euro per hectare of arable land. In the 1970s there was a rumour that bergamot oil could be carcinogenic, but this turned out to be false. During this time, large areas of bergamot in Italy were destroyed and turned into building land.

Italian bergamot oil is monitored by the 'Consorzio di Tutela del Bergamotto'. Calabresian bergamot oil can be procured with the protected designation of origin DOP (De origine Produzione), similar to the wine.

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Botany

The bergamot plant has a small stature of only about 4 meters' height, and has irregular branch growth. The flowering period is in spring and the fertilization of bergamot does not take place all year round, but only at certain times.

The flowers are white and the fruit is rounded to slightly pear-shaped. It has a weight of approximately 100 to 200 grams and is lemon yellow when it is harvested, which takes place from November to March. The diameter of the fruit is 5-7 cm. Like the tangerine, the bergamot fruit is strongly segmented and has a very bitter and sour taste. There are three types: 'Castagnaro', 'Femminello' and 'Fantastico'. Castagnaro is the oldest variety. 'Fantastico' is known for producing a lot of oil, the 'Femminello' essential oil is known for its high quality.

Cultivation

More than 90% of the bergamot production worldwide comes from a coastline of just 100 km on the Italian coast between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Sea in the Calabria region. Other important and famous growing areas are the Italian island of Nefalonia and the Greek island of Zakynthos. Bergamot is also grown in Argentina, Brazil, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. However, these growing areas unfortunately deliver inferior fruit. Harvest time is between November and February.

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