Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) should not to be confused with the common garden herb, bee balm (Monarda didyma) which is also commonly called Bergamot. A member of the Rutaceae family the tree in the wild can grow up to 12 meters, however under cultivation it is pruned to about 4 – 5 metres. It has deep green leaves and small white fragrant flowers. The fruit is about the size of a small orange and not considered edible. The plant originated in the tropical parts of Asia and is grown in Italy and the Ivory Coast. A greenish – yellow essential oil is extracted by expression from the peel of the fruit. It has a sweet citrus floral aroma.
Psychologically it has calming, uplifting and anti-depressant properties, which is why its use is often considered in times of depression, anxiety and nervous tension. It is also said to radiate love energy and happiness.
While on the physiological level its antiseptic, expectorant and anti-spasmodic properties are excellent for fighting colds and flu and digestive disorders.
Traditionally it has been used to create perfumes, scent soaps and in the food and drink industry as a flavouring. In fact, it is used to scent Earl Grey Tea..
Contraindications: Expressed bergamot is known to cause phototoxicity when applied to the skin. Exposure to sunlight and UV rays should be avoided for 12 hours after application. It may also irritate sensitive skin. Today one can purchase a F.C.F. grade of bergamot, which has been rectified and is furocoumarin free. It is the furocoumarins which are responsible for phototoxicity.
John Kerr, Essential Oil Profile – Bergamot, Aromatherapy Today. Vol. 11, 1999.
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 101 Course Notes & Aromatherapy 201 Course Notes, 1999.
Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs, Essential Oil Safety, Churchill Livingstone, London, 1995.
Martin Watt, Plant Aromatics Set 4, Effects on the skin of aromatic extracts, London, 1995.
Bergamot is covered in the Aromatherapy 101 Course
Bergamot Sunshine in a Bottle
Bergamot Light in the Dark
Research on Bergamot
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