Today, essential oils are popular among health and wellness enthusiasts. And for a good reason – essential oils have been used therapeutically for centuries and have been shown to have significant impacts on everything from stress to headaches and insomnia. They’re also a potent cure for infections and can replace pharmaceuticals in certain applications.
Between their nontoxic formulation and fresh, calming aroma, there are dozens of reasons to love essential oils. Lately, though, one oil has been standing out above many of the others. If you have yet to hear of Bergamot oil, now is the time to learn more about this powerful, far-reaching oil.
What is Bergamot Oil?
Bergamot oil is a unique essential oil. Extracted from a citrus fruit known as Citrus bergamia (specifically from the rind of unripe fruit), bergamot’s source fruit grows on bergamot orange trees. A highly complex oil with hundreds of different components, bergamot’s primary active ingredients include limonene, linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinene, and pinene.
Bergamot also contains a compound known as bergapten, which can increase the sensitivity of the skin to sunlight, especially in people with highly sensitive or acne-prone skin. While many bergamot essential oil varieties still contain bergapten, it is possible to find types that have had most of their bergapten distilled out.
Bergamot oil is harvested throughout Italy and other Mediterranean climates. Wondering what bergamot oil tastes or smells like? If you drink Earl Grey tea, you’ve already come across bergamot, which is the distinctive oil that flavors the deep, sensual tea.
While bergamot has been in circulation for many years, the earliest existence of the bergamot tree can be traced to Southeast Asia. Despite these early roots, oil of bergamot is also grown throughout many parts of the world, although the best varieties come from the town of Bergamo in southern Italy.
Like all essential oils, bergamot has many uses. It is particularly prized for its soothing scent, spicy taste, and propensity for treating anxiety, stress, infections, and pain.
Bergamot Oil Benefits
Bergamot has a distinctive, deep, citrusy scent. Because of this, it’s commonly used to create personal care products for both men and women. Today, bergamot oil is an important ingredient in perfumes, colognes, toiletries, and cosmetics. Food-grade bergamot oil, meanwhile, flavors foods and drinks, as well as candies. It also has medicinal value and can be used to treat bacterial infections and more.
Since bergamot is so powerful, it’s also commonly used as an aromatherapy treatment for conditions that lead to chronic nausea and vomiting, pain, and other conditions. Because of this, bergamot is a favorite among people undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Bergamot can also reduce the side effects of certain prescription drugs – specifically antipsychotics and aromatase inhibitors.
While bergamot oil’s strength is a powerful positive attribute, it also requires users to be careful with the oil. Bergamot essential oil, for example, should not be applied directly to skin at full-strength.
Instead, it can be mixed with a carrier oil like mineral or coconut oil, at which point it becomes an excellent skin oil. If you’d prefer to use bergamot oil for aromatherapy, it can be diffused and used to soothe stress or anxiety. No matter what you do, do not swallow essential oils directly. If you’re interested in consuming bergamot-flavored products, look for food-grade options and edible options.
Bergamot Oil for Anxiety and Stress
If you suffer from stress, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, more than one-third of adults (34 percent) report that their stress increased over the past year. Fortunately, you don’t have to turn to pharmaceutical measures to cope with your stress. Bergamot essential oil is one of the most potent essential oils for treating anxiety and stress.
There has been a great deal of recent research conducted on this topic. In one study, mice injected with the anti-anxiety drug Valium (diazepam) had lower stress biomarkers when they were also exposed to bergamot essential oil. The animals exposed to both Valium and bergamot oil exhibited calmer behaviors, as well as decreases in stress hormones like corticosterone, which is similar to cortisol in humans.
Wondering what was responsible for the differences? Researchers chalked it up to an increase in a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which the body produces to temper nerve excitability, and which bergamot oil helps stimulate.
As you can see, bergamot oil is amazingly useful for battling anxiety, especially as a homeopathic method. Here are a few ways to make the most of the stress-busting benefits of bergamot oil:
Wear it. Using a glass dropper, apply a small amount of essential oil to your pulse points, like your temples, the insides of your wrists, and the back of your neck. Your body heat will warm the oil and spread its therapeutic capabilities.
Spray it. Essential oil, including bergamot oil, can also be used as a room spray and is a particularly useful aromatherapy mist. Invest in some for your home or office to combat stress and anxiety.
Diffuse it. Mix your essential oil with a carrier oil (something denser and less expensive, like mineral or coconut oil) and put it in a warming diffuser. This allows the gentle scent of the oil to waft through the room, bathing you in its healing properties.
Keep in mind that you can also mix bergamot oil with another essential oil you like, such as lavender or rose oil, for ultimate relaxing effects.
7 Smart Bergamot Oil Uses
The great thing about essential oils is that each variety has a unique set of powerful uses. Here are some of the best ways to use bergamot oil:
1. Nervous System Support
Because of its exotic name, lots of people forget bergamot oil is, in fact, citrus oil. Uplifting, energizing, and balancing, bergamot is touted among holistic healers for its powerful nervous system balancing impacts.
You know by now that bergamot can soothe anxiety, but it can also help slow a racing mind, boost your mood, and calm you down – in the middle of a busy day or the evening. To reap its calming benefits, most essential oil experts recommend placing it in an ultrasonic diffuser.
Alternately, you can add a few drops onto a tissue or a favorite piece of clothing and inhale deeply as needed during the day. Dabbing a bit onto the insides of your wrists works, as well.
2. Mood Enhancement
Citrus scents, like bergamot, are widely known for impacting the mood. Because of this, bergamot is commonly used in mental health practices and therapy settings.
Surprisingly, it’s also a favorite among artists, who believe the energizing smell promotes positivity, lightens depression, smashes stagnation, and improves confidence and creativity. Again, using bergamot in an essential oil diffuser is the best way to reap these benefits. The scent can be exceptionally energizing when combined with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut.
3. Promote Digestive Health
If you frequently suffer from digestive issues, oil of bergamot is an excellent treatment to consider. Often recommended by doctors and holistic health professionals, bergamot oil can ease gastrointestinal pain and upset, and promote healthy digestion and a calm stomach.
The best way to reap the benefits of bergamot oil in this respect is to add 1 to 3 drops of the oil to a carrier oil like coconut oil and massage it into the skin of the stomach, moving your hand in a gentle, clockwise motion. The clockwise motion works with the natural motion of your digestion, while the gentle rubbing warms the oil up and helps it sink into your skin for maximum effect.
4. Immune Support
Among its many other benefits, bergamot can also improve and enhance your immunity. Because bergamot comes from citrus, it’s packed with powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals and keep your system healthy.
To reap its immune-supporting benefits, apply it topically. Like you would if you wanted to use it to soothe digestion, massage it onto the skin as if it were a massage oil. Be careful to dilute it with a carrier oil, though, as straight bergamot oil is very strong. To help battle flu season germs, carry bergamot oil in your bag with you while you’re out and about.
5. Respiratory Support
If you find yourself a little stuffed-up, turn to bergamot oil to help open your respiratory channels. Thanks to its invigorating scent, bergamot is known for opening the chest and clearing gunk out of the nasal passages.
Think of it as a natural Vick’s VapoRub. For best results, miss your bergamot oil with some eucalyptus oil and drop it into a diffuser. You can also rub it onto your chest or drop a bit into a body lotion to create a nice body salve.
6. Banish Blemishes
Did you know that bergamot is a powerful antibacterial and antiseptic? Fantastic for killing bacteria, both in wounds and on your skin, bergamot is an excellent addition to your daily health routine.
You can use it to clean your hands, just like you would with store-bought hand sanitizer and cleansing gel. You can also mix up a homemade toner to kill bacteria on your skin and create a bright, clean, refreshed face. If you want to incorporate bergamot into your skincare routine, make sure you’re diluting it down to 1%.
This is important because bergamot is a powerful, intense oil, and using a concentration that is too high can harm your skin. For best results, mix about two teaspoons of your favorite facial oil (vitamin e and fractionated coconut oils work well) with about 2-3 drops of bergamot oil. Apply the mixture evenly to your face and neck. If you’d like to use a bergamot mixture to combat acne on your chest, back, or legs, you can bump the solution up to about 2-5% dilution.
If you have very sensitive skin, look for bergapten-free varieties of bergamot oil. These versions are not phototoxic and will reduce the risk of adverse sun reactions after applying bergamot.
7. Promote Hair Growth
While Bergamot is used mainly for aromatherapy purposes, many people also use bergamot oil for hair. When applied to the scalp, oil of bergamot can revive and stimulate hair bulbs and encourages hair growth and density.
Bergamot contains a host of natural stimulants, which help increase blood flow to the scalp, promote proper oxygen delivery, and nourish hair strands. Even better? Bergamont can add some serious shine to dull, dry hair.
For best results, add a few drops of bergamot oil into your normal shampoo. If you’d prefer, you can also mix a few drops of bergamot with a carrier oil and massage it into the scalp as an overnight treatment.
Bonus: Bergamot for Mental Health
As you can see, bergamot has dozens of benefits. It can be particularly powerful, though, for mental health. This fact has been well-documented by recent scientific studies. According to one 2017 study called Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Essential Oil Inhalation Improves Positive Feelings in the Waiting Room of a Mental Health Treatment Center: A Pilot Study,
“Essential oil aromatherapy can provide a cost‐effective and safe treatment for many mental problems. This pilot study observed the effects of bergamot essential oil inhalation on mental health and well‐being, as measured by the Positive and Negative Affect Scale, in a mental‐health treatment center located in Utah, USA. Fifty‐seven eligible participants (50 women, age range: 23–70 years) were included for analysis. Fifteen minutes of bergamot essential oil exposure improved participants’ positive feelings compared with the control group (17% higher). Unexpectedly, more participants participated in experimental periods rather than control periods, suggesting even brief exposure to essential oil aroma may make people more willing to enroll in clinical trials. This study provides preliminary evidence of the efficacy and safety of bergamot essential oil inhalation on mental well‐being in a mental health treatment center, suggesting that bergamot essential oil aromatherapy can be an effective adjunct treatment to improve individuals’ mental health and well‐being.”
While bergamot is not a replacement for mental health medications or therapy, it can be a fantastic complementary treatment for at-home self-care.
Bergamot Oil for Aromatherapy
One of bergamot’s primary uses in aromatherapy. Known worldwide for its soothing, calming properties, bergamot lends itself easily to aromatherapy. Here are a few ways to use it:
Mix bergamot essential oil with a carrier oil and use it as a massage cream or body lotion
Add bergamot to your homemade candles, air fresheners, or vaporizers, Keep in mind that bergamot is strong and just a few drops will do the job
Add two to five drops of bergamot oil to products like shampoo, facial scrubs, and body wash
Add a drop of bergamot oil to a garment for a soothing, on-the-go pick-me-up
Now that you know how to use bergamot let’s talk about the top ten bergamot oils to pick from.
What is the Shelf Life for Bergamot Oil?
Like most essential oils, bergamot oil has a shelf life of about four years. While it’s likely you’ll use your bergamot oil well before that, here are some tips to make your bergamot oil last:
Keep it out of direct sunlight. Bergamot oil is phototoxic, which means it will go rancid in the sun. With this in mind, keep your bergamot oil in an amber-tinted glass bottle and store it outside of direct sunlight. You should also be careful to avoid direct sunlight after applying bergamot oil. Most experts recommend that users avoid direct sunlight or tanning beds for at least 18 hours after applying Bergamot to the skin.
Cut your bergamot oil. Bergamot oil is powerful and can irritate the skin if you apply it alone. To prevent this, dilute the oil before using it. Favorite additional oils include skin-safe coconut and jojoba. If you neglect to dilute the oil, severe skin burning or damage can occur, especially if you go into the sun right after application. For best results, best make sure that you’re applying bergamot to the skin in a blend at no more than 0.4% (approx. 1-2 drops per 1 oz/30 ml of carrier).
Avoid heat. Like direct sunlight will spoil bergamot oil, so, too, will heat. To keep your oil fresh, store it in a cool, dry area at temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
The 10 Best Bergamot Oils to Buy This Year
Want to add bergamot oil to your essential oil lineup? Great! The only question, then, is which of the multitude of options to choose from. After all, bergamot oil has become very popular in recent years, and there are many different types and brands out there. Choosing between them can be difficult.
Don’t worry, though – we’re here to help. Here are ten of our top oil of bergamot picks:
1. Aura Cacia Organic Bergamot Essential Oil
This Aura Cacia bergamot oil is our favorite on the market. Paraben and petroleum-free, and entirely without synthetic colors or stabilizers, this luscious essential oil is also not tested on animals.
Cold-pressed and single origin, this oil is fantastic for everyday use. Try it in aromatherapy, use it in a water diffuser, or apply it to the skin and hair as part of your daily beauty routine. Since this is a bergapten-free bergamot oil, it’s particularly gentle and skin-friendly.
GC/MS tested for quality
This 100% pure Italian oil is certified organic by QAI.
High-quality and affordable
2. NOW Foods Bergamot Oil
Lively, uplifting, inspiring, and sweet, this bergamot oil offers a few powerful benefits over other brands. In addition to being naturally-sourced and responsibly made, it’s also completely non-toxic. Plus, it has a particularly sweet, fruity scent we love. Its silky consistency means it mixes well with other oils such as cedarwood, chamomile, and tangerine oil.
This 100% pure and undiluted oil is gentle on the skin and ideal for use in aromatherapy, fragrance creation, and the treatment of stress, tension, and more. It has a smooth on-skin feel and absorbs quickly. Offering a medium aroma strength, this is a wonderful place to start with bergamot oil.
If you’re looking for a bergamot oil for aromatherapy use, this is an excellent option. Harvested in Italy, this oil offers a unique, thin consistency, which is perfect for use in a diffuser. Featuring a convenient screw-off lid and a precise dropper system, this oil is easy to apply to the hair or skin. Thanks to its consistency, this oil also mixes well with other popular aromatherapy oils, such as lavender and sandalwood.
Cold-pressed and boasting a medium-strength fresh, citrusy, sweet scent, this bergamot oil is ideal for tossing into your bag and using on-the-go. While this oil is not organic, we think it has a much stronger smell than other brands of bergamot oils. Because of this, it may also require more dilution than other varieties of oil.
This oil is FCF (furanocoumarin-free) and not phototoxic
If you’re looking for a kid-safe, pure citrus oil, this option is worth exploring. A powerful antiseptic, this bergamot oil (harvested from a mixture of French and Italian fruit) boasts analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
This brand is especially popular among consumers who are concerned about purity. The Plant Therapy brand ensures every bottle of its oil goes through extensive rounds of testing to ensure quality and purity, so you can feel good about using it on your skin.
This oil is a great option for anyone looking to add bergamot oil to their lineup. This is Bergapten-Free Bergamot, which is safe for use in the sun.
100% certified pure
Subjected to organoleptic testing by Robert Tisserand, an essential oil expert, and multiple rounds of GC-MS testing by third-party laboratories
5. doTERRA Bergamot Essential Oil
Produced by one of the best-known essential oil brands out there, this doTERRA option offers a medium-strength smell and cold-pressed extraction. Each bottle is equipped with a plastic stopper that dispenses oil a single drop at a time, making it easy to facilitate targeted therapy with no mess or waste.
If you want to use this oil in a diffuser, dilute it in just a bit of carrier oil, like coconut, almond, or grapeseed. This oil offers a strong, pleasant smell, which makes it ideal for aromatherapy or fragrance use. This oil is not Bergapten-Free, which means it may cause some skin sensitivity after application.
No dilution or filler
High levels of limonene, linalyl acetate, linalool, terpinene, and β-pinene
Like many other bergamot oils on the market, this stunning variety is cold-pressed, sourced in Italy, and offers a medium scent profile. Featuring a mixture of 37.52% Limonene and 29.04% Linalyl Acetate, people love this oil for its aroma, which includes hints of orange, lemon, and floral notes.
Want a product that lasts for years? This amber-colored European dropper bottle helps prevent oil spoilage and extend the lifespan of your oil. Offering a thin, easy-to-blend consistency, this oil is ideal for blending with other oils for topical or aromatherapy uses, and is especially popular among customers who want to use bergamot to treat skin conditions.
Long shelf life
Silky texture ideal for mixing
7. Healing Solutions Bergamot
If you’re in the market for a fresh, citrusy, sweet bergamot essential oil, look no further than Healing Solutions Bergamot oil. Cold-pressed for purity, this pure, Italian essential oil is Kosher-certified for purity and quality.
Customers love that this Healing Solutions oil, which is ideal for topical use and as an ingredient in homemade cosmetics and skincare products. This is a silky, smooth, somewhat dense oil with a medium scent profile. This oil is particularly good for us in the hair and on the skin.
Distilled at a GMP, ISO 9001 facility for purity
Therapeutic-grade and high-quality
8. Majestic Pure Bergamot Essential Oil
Ideal for anyone who wants to use more bergamot oil than a drop or two at a time, this USA-packaged oil features a convenient, premium-quality glass dropper for ease of use and application.
Sourced in Italy, this product does not have an organic certification. Don’t let that fool you, though – it’s an excellent product that we love using. Known for its luxurious, dense texture and uplifting scent, this particular oil is excellent for use in perfumes and DIY cosmetics.
100% pure and natural
High levels of Alpha Pinene, Limonene and Flavonoids for scent and texture
9. Gya Labs Bergamot Essential Oil – A Refreshing Relief for Sore & Tired Muscles – 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Bergamot Oil
If you’re looking for an essential oil to add to your collection, this bergamot oil is an excellent choice. This bottle features an easy-to-use dropper that’s perfect for precision application. While there’s not much to set this oil apart from other oils on the list, it’s a great mid-level option for anyone looking to explore bergamot.
This oil is produced using fresh fruit harvested in Italy. Use this medium-consistency oil to rejuvenate the hair, clear the skin, and create your own perfumes and topical formulas.
No fillers or additives
Produced in an FDA-registered distillation facility
10. Sun Essentials Bergamot Oil
Last but not least on our list is this Sun Essentials Bergamot Oil. Known for its high-quality oils, Sun Essentials believes deeply in its products, and prioritizies customer satisfaction.
Unlike other oils, the Sun Essentials brand comes in a plastic bottle that is minimally tinted. This means you’ll have to keep it out of the heat and direct sunlight to preserve the quality of the oil.
While some reviewers have complained about the quality of this oil, it’s a great entry-level option for use in aromatherapy and other applications.
100% manufacturer refund for unsatisfied customers
Thin and easy to mix
Bergamot Oil Side Effects
The primary side effect of bergamot oil is burning and irritation, specifically when exposed to sunlight soon after application. Don’t worry, though – this is easy to avoid. Never apply bergamot essential oil to the skin at full strength. Instead, dilute it with a carrier oil and avoid direct sunlight for at least 18 hours after application.
The reason bergamot is so sensitive to the sun is that it contains a substance known as bergapten, which is highly phototoxic. If skin exposed to bergamot oil is also exposed to UV radiation, either natural or artificial, you can suffer from a skin condition called photodermatitis, which can include symptoms like redness, pain, swelling, blistering, and rash.
If you have sensitive skin, even a few drops of oil can cause photo-sensitivity. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, be sure to consult with your doctor before you add any essential oil to your collection.
Does Bergamot Oil Interact With Other Supplements?
While bergamot oil is a natural compound, it can interact with other natural and pharmaceutical supplements. Generally, these reactions relate to bergamot’s sensitivity to sunlight. Here’s what WebMD has to say about it:
Some medications can increase sensitivity to sunlight. The topical use of bergamot oil might also increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Using bergamot oil topically along with medication that increase sensitivity to sunlight could increase the chances of sunburn, blistering, or rashes on areas of skin exposed to sunlight. Be sure to wear sunblock and protective clothing when spending time in the sun.<br /> Some drugs that cause photosensitivity include amitriptyline (Elavil), Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), norfloxacin (Noroxin), lomefloxacin (Maxaquin), ofloxacin (Floxin), levofloxacin (Levaquin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), gatifloxacin (Tequin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Septra), tetracycline, methoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen, 8-MOP, Oxsoralen), and Trioxsalen (Trisoralen).
While it’s unlikely that bergamot will cause any significant, adverse reactions, it’s always smart to check with your healthcare provider before adding new essential oil to your routine.
Essential oils are an ancient and powerful addition to your health and wellness routine. Used for thousands of years to heal all manner of ailments and discomforts, high-quality essential oils are nature’s simple answer to many of our daily difficulties. Regardless of whether you’ve used essential oils in the past, or you’re new to their powers and benefits, essential oils are safe and easy to weave into your daily routine. Because they can be consumed, applied topically, diffused, and worn, they’re also a very flexible form of treatment that will adapt to your preferred application methods.
Bergamot oil, specifically, is fantastic for stress relief, improving positivity, and promoting healing. Once you’ve chosen your top bergamot essential oil from our list of the top 10 choices above, you can decide how best to use it. Apply it alone, diffuse it in a carrier oil, mix it with another favorite essential oil, or look for consumable varieties to add to your favorite smoothie or drink. The possibilities are endless.
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