Citrus bergamia or bergamot is a lime and bitter orange hybrid that’s been used in traditional folk medicine in countries like Italy for a long time. Its pleasant aroma and relaxing fragrance make it a popular aromatherapy essential oil.
If you’ve enjoyed a cup of Earl grey tea for its distinct flavor, it could be the bergamot in it that you’re enjoying. But what are the health benefits of using this essential oil?
Here are some common issues, as well as some rare ones, with which bergamot oil has therapeutic benefits.
1. Skin Problems
Bergamot oil may be able to help you treat not just Candida but other fungal infections as well. In vitro tests so far have been promising, and a particular research suggests that it could be effective against some of the most common dermatophytes.
Dermatophytes tend to thrive in your skin, hair, and nails, feeding off of the keratin in them. Here, the oil needs to be applied topically to the area with a fungal infection caused specifically due to these species.1
2. Stress And Anxiety
Aromatherapy employs a range of oils including bergamot, which is believed to have anxiety-reducing or anxiolytic effects. It helps modulate the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, helping alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain.2
One animal study found that when test subjects were made to inhale the oil, as is the case with aromatherapy, they experienced a reduction in anxiety-related behavior and in the corticosterone response to stress.3
3. Cardiac Problems
The bergamottin may be beneficial to those with heart problems. Animal tests on guinea pigs have been able to demonstrate the antiarrhythmic and antianginal properties of the oil.
There is also discussion surrounding its use as a vasodilator agent to treat cardiovascular diseases. Also, bergamot juice, obtained after the essential oil is extracted, is said to have hypolipidemic actions.4
However, this research still has some way to go. Until then, you may benefit from using the relaxing aromas of the essential oil in a bath, massage, or as aroma vapors to relax your mind and body and cut stress, which is another risk factor for cardiac problems.
4. Inflammatory Conditions
The oil is said to possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it has been used in traditional medicine for generations.
In a research, different dosages of bergamot oil were tested and found to be effective in cutting inflammation. A dosage of 0.10 mL/kg had the strongest anti-inflammatory activity; other dosages were 0.025 mL/kg and 0.05 mL/kg.5
It is thus also a possible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory condition that causes aching joints, swelling, bone erosion, destruction of joints, and stiffness, that makes movement.6
5. Digestive Trouble
Dietary intake of bergamot juice or essential oil in teas can help you get the antioxidant flavonoids in bergamot. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of bergamot have been shown, in some research, to help inflammatory bowel disease, opening up possibilities for therapeutic use in other conditions like colitis.7
Some home remedies suggest simply blending bergamot oil with other oils like chamomile in a carrier oil like coconut oil and massaging the abdominal region for relieving flatulence and indigestion.
6. Food Poisoning
Bergamot essential oil is said to have antifungal and antibacterial properties that work against Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157,Campylobacter jejuni, and Bacillus cereus. These are some of the most common causes of food poisoning, making the oil a potent remedy.8
Researchers have studied the treatment of foods by exposure to oil vapors for a length of time (24 hours in the study) as well as its direct use in foods. Unfortunately, further study is needed to find the sweet spot where the bactericidal effect of the oil is optimal and the changes to the properties of the food due to exposure to the oil is as low as possible.
Over time, if further research can find this ideal balance, the oil could be a viable alternative to chemical-based bactericides.
Side Effects Of Bergamot Essential Oil
As with any essential oil, caution with its use is warranted. There are some side effects you should be aware of before you try using bergamot as a remedy.
- Photosensitivity is the most prominent side effect.9 Signs of photosensivity include burns, rashes, blisters, or thickening or patchiness of skin after using the oil.10
- You could also develop contact dermatitis, a condition that leaves your skin irritated and itchy. A rash may develop in the area where the oil was applied, due to an allergy, or because your skin developed an irritation because of the oil usage.11
- If you’re using it topically, always test a small area of the skin and watch it for 24 hours to gauge the body’s reaction. If you develop any kind of rash, redness, itchiness, or notice a change in how your skin looks or feels, do not use it further.
|↑1||Sanguinetti, M., B. Posteraro, L. Romano, F. Battaglia, T. Lopizzo, E. De Carolis, and G. Fadda. “In vitro activity of Citrus bergamia (bergamot) oil against clinical isolates of dermatophytes.” Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy 59, no. 2 (2007): 305-308.|
|↑2, ↑6, ↑7||Marino, A., I. Paterniti, M. Cordaro, R. Morabito, M. Campolo, M. Navarra, E. Esposito, and S. Cuzzocrea. “Role of natural antioxidants and potential use of bergamot in treating rheumatoid arthritis.” PharmaNutrition 3, no. 2 (2015): 53-59.|
|↑3||Saiyudthong, Somrudee, and Charles A. Marsden. “Acute effects of bergamot oil on anxiety‐related behaviour and corticosterone level in rats.” Phytotherapy Research 25, no. 6 (2011): 858-862.|
|↑4||Navarra, Michele, Carmen Mannucci, Marisa Delbò, and Gioacchino Calapai. “Citrus bergamia essential oil: from basic research to clinical application.” Frontiers in pharmacology 6 (2015): 36.|
|↑5, ↑9||Karaca, Mehmet, Hanefi Özbek, Aydın Him, Mehmet Tütüncü, Hasan Altan Akkan, and Veysel Kaplanoğlu. “Investigation of anti-inflammatory activity of bergamot oil.” (2009).|
|↑8||Fisher, Katie, and Carol A. Phillips. “The effect of lemon, orange and bergamot essential oils and their components on the survival of Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus in vitro and in food systems.” Journal of Applied Microbiology 101, no. 6 (2006): 1232-1240.|
|↑10||Ernst, Edzard. “Adverse effects of herbal drugs in dermatology.” British Journal of Dermatology 143, no. 5 (2000): 923-929.|
|↑11||Zacher, K. D., and H. Ippen. “Contact dermatitis caused by bergamot oil.” Dermatosen in Beruf und Umwelt. Occupation and environment 32, no. 3 (1983): 95-97.|