Essential oils have been used for thousands of years. In fact, it’s thought that the ancient Messapotamians had the machinery to extract the oils from plants as far back as 5,000 years ago1.
Today, essential oils are just as popular. Whether used for aromatherapy, cosmetics, or as alternative medicine, our interest in what the natural world can provide shows no sign of abating2. One of the most popular essential oils is bergamot, but what is it and what can it be used for3?
What is bergamot?
The name ‘bergamot’ covers a couple of different plants. We’re probably most familiar with the bergamot citrus fruit (citrus bergamia to give it the official name), which is often used in flavouring and perfumes. We can also use bergamot herbs, which have a similar floral fragrance4.
Bergamot is characterised by its aromatic scent, which is often described as floral, zesty, and tart. We don’t tend to eat bergamot oranges because they’re very sour. However, they’re often used as flavourings in marmalades, baking, cocktails and, of course, tea (the most famous being Early Grey)5.
Bergamot essential oils are also extracted from the peel, which is then used for a range of different commercial and at-home purposes. These include perfumes and colognes, soap making, aromatherapy, and more6.
Bergamot benefits and uses
As well as flavouring a delicious tea, the bergamot fruit has a range of reported benefits and uses. . While bergamot is generally thought to be safe for use7, it’s best to speak to your doctor if you have any health concerns.
Some bergamot benefits might include:
- Reduced fatigue8
- Lower cholesterol9
- Skin health10
While there is some evidence to back up these bergamot benefits, it’s worth bearing in mind that many of the studies were relatively small and not all of them conducted on humans. With that in mind, always speak to your doctor before use. If you already take medication, it could be worth asking if it is likely to react with your current medicine or health concern11.
When to avoid bergamot
Bergamot is generally thought to be safe for most people, but it can depend on the way you take it12 13. Bergamot oil can be taken orally, inhaled, or applied directly to the skin. You might experience different side effects depending on how you choose to use it.
Some bergamot side effects might include:
- Skin reactions14
- Sensitivity to light (photosensitivity)15
You should always apply topical bergamot oil with a carrier oil, as using it at full strength could have adverse effects. If you’re not sure, it may be worth looking for products like bergamot body lotions or natural hair products to find an option that includes bergamot at lower doses. Remember to always follow the label and stop using your chosen product if you notice any side effects.
Last Updated: 30th December 2020