Bergamot Essential Oil Benefits And Uses: Berg It On!
There’s quite a good chance that you’ve never heard of or encountered bergamot oil before – I for one, only found out about it quite recently. If you do have some experience with it, you’ll know it by it’s high end citrus-smell and light spiciness and if you’ve ever tasted it before, well the only way to describe it is that it’s less sour than a lemon, but has almost the same taste as a grapefruit – a bitter body followed by a slightly sweet aftertaste.
However, if you’ve ever had Earl Grey tea then you’ve technically had a small taste of bergamot oil as it’s traditionally used to add flavor and body to the tea. I started doing some research into this delicious smelling oil and was quite surprised with what I came up with. Read on to find out more!
What Is Bergamot Essential Oil? Where Does It Come From?
Bergamot essential oil is produced from the rinds (or skin) of the bergamot orange – which is the same size as a normal orange, but has a similar color to that of a lemon and is also referred to as a ‘sour orange’. The bergamot orange is currently cultivated in 3 places in the world namely Southern France, Southern Turkey and Southern Italy, however Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa also cultivate a small percentage of the total global production.
The oil is generally produced through means of steam distillation and on average it takes roughly 8 and a half oranges to produce 1 ml of essential oil. You might have read about the steam distillation process in one of my earlier stories, but if you haven’t I’ll briefly explain it to you.
The rinds of the orange are separated from the fruit and placed in a glass vial. Water is heated in a separate vial to produce steam. The steam moves through a series of glass tubes and fills the vial containing the organic matter (rinds). Through the evaporation process, the essential nutrients of the rinds are removed and then passed through another glass tube (once the pressure builds up in the vial) on towards the condensation chamber where the vapour gathers and cools.
Once the vapor cools, it forms droplets that collect at the base of the vial – this is the essential oil. Because of the fact that bergamot generally requires a large amount of rinds as a base (the ratio is 8 fruits: 1 ml), the oil is often blended with other essential oils such as rosewood or bergamot mint in order to increase the volume.
Uses For Bergamot Essential Oil
Generally, bergamot oil is used as a fragrance in perfumes, skin lotions and shampoos. The sweet, citrus odor adds a high end scent when blended with carrier oils and is often used as a tool in aromatherapy. The smell of bergamot is used to reduce stress and anxiety when inhaled – this is most effective through steam therapy. In order to utilize the oil for steam therapy simply heat up a pot of water until boiling point, then add 4-6 drops of the bergamot essential oil to the water.
Put your face over the water and cover your head with a towel to form a tent, make sure your face is about 10 inches from the water to avoid steam burns. Close your eyes and breath in through your nose for 1 and a half minutes at a time. You’ll be feeling calm and relaxed in no time. The oil can also be used in your burner or a vaporizer (if you have one) to give your home a pleasant fragrance and a calming atmosphere. I’ve used bergamot as a fragrance in my home and really loved it – I’m sure you’ll enjoy the smell.
Bergamot oil can also be used to flavor cooking dishes (it goes particularly well with salads, poultry and fish dishes) and even in your baking too. But be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil or water (3:1 bergamot drop) and use it in small amounts!
Benefits of Bergamot Essential Oil For Hair
Bergamot is an amazing essential oil for use in your hair and is able to treat a wide variety of issues that are commonly treated with costly chemical products or shampoos that can have a negative effect on certain hair types. Bergamot has a high concentration of linalool and limonene which are essential nutrients for promoting hair growth and nourishing your hair from the roots. Linalool is rich in Vitamin E – which is a key nutrient for regulating and maintaining healthy hair.
Bergamot acts as a stimulant, so when it’s massaged into your scalp it will thin out the blood cells in your scalp and improve circulation. This means that more nutrients are delivered to the cells in your scalp which stimulates hair growth and leads to stronger, healthier hair because more nutrients are absorbed into the hair follicles from the root up.
The citrus content in bergamot also makes it a strong antimicrobial and antiseptic agent which makes the oil effective in treating any scalp infections or inflammation that might be caused by bacterial growth or germs that might gather on the scalp. By treating the scalp with antibacterial agents you effectively remove the source of the infection, as well as the symptoms. These infections are commonly related to conditions such as dandruff and dry, itchy scalps.
The oil also acts as a fantastic conditioner/moisturizer, so can be used to treat dry and damaged hair that is generally caused by sun overexposure or dry heatwaves – depending on the region you live in. The oil will keep your hair nourished, smooth and smelling great for a long time – it will also add a nice sheen to your hair, leaving it shinier and more lively.
Benefits of Bergamot Essential Oil For Skin
Bergamot is good for your skin for a number of reasons and a variety of purposes. However, it’s important for me to stress that there are a few cautions to consider before applying the oil to skin in any amount. Firstly, the oil should not be used to treat children under the age of 6.
Secondly, be sure to stay out of direct sunlight after applying the oil as one of its main ingredients (‘bergapten’) becomes poisonous when exposed to direct sunlight or UV rays. Finally, as a general rule of thumb, you should always mix the oil with a carrier oil (such as almond, lemongrass or bergamot mint) as a way of lessening the direct effects of the essential oil should something go wrong i.e. an allergic reaction etc.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way – I want to stress that bergamot is generally very safe to use and a very healthy substitute for most chemical products, so long as you stay out of direct sunlight (at least until the oil has been fully absorbed into your skin). Bergamot acts as a natural antiseptic as well as an antimicrobial agent which means that it can be applied to any skin irritations such as rashes, wounds and eczema. It has analgesic qualities too, which means it can be utilized for minor pain relief.
One of the main properties of bergamot that makes it valuable for skin use (and also why it’s added to a large number of skincare products) is that it is a natural cicatrisant. This means that it helps scars and wounds heal quicker, which allows them to disappear sooner. This makes it very suitable as a toner and acne treatment as it will help unclog your pores and remove excess sebum oil, while nourishing your skin and speeding up the recovery process. Again, as a rule of thumb, always you bergamot in small amounts or blended with other oils.
Bergamot Fruit Oil can help regulate sebum secretion, and it has been known to even out skin tone and promote wound healing pic.twitter.com/ufogYNOE4R
— The Spa Dr. (@drtcates) February 22, 2017
Are There Side Effects To Using Bergamot Essential Oil?
As I mentioned earlier, bergamot oil is generally safe to use and shouldn’t cause you any problems – so long as you use it correctly. There are however, a few side-effects I feel I should note – just so that you know what to look out for. Firstly, it’s always important to patch test bergamot oil and to dilute it with a separate carrier oil or water (3:1 bergamot drop).
Some skin types can have a bad reaction to the oil and can even cause irritations like blisters, rashes or general redness if too much is used or if it is not diluted properly. Secondly, always be sure to keep the bottle in a dark container and out of direct sunlight.
Also be sure to stay out of direct sunlight after you’ve applied the oil to your skin and only enter direct sunlight once the oil has completely been absorbed into the skin (usually an hour after the initial application). The oil can become poisonous when left in direct contact with sunlight and can cause pigmentation lightening.
Finally, consuming too much bergamot oil orally (or with your Earl Grey Tea for instance) on a regular basis can lead to a potassium deficiency which can cause cramps and muscle spasms. Again, the oil is generally very safe for use so long as you stick to the correct dosages and don’t over do it. Like everything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad – so everything in balance.
I only found out about bergamot oil roughly 2 months ago and after using it with a tea recipe I tried out – I fell in love with it. The smell is lasting and really calming and it’s great for your immune system. When I started researching the oil (I always research something before I use it), I was a bit alarmed when I read about the many side-effects that may come as a result from using this oil.
However, I’ve always been careful and sparing with it – and haven’t had any problems so far. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who has experience with essential oils. Even those who are new to the essential oil world should give this stuff a try – just be sure to do your research first!