Bergamot Oil History and Uses
Bergamot essential oil is an increasingly popular ingredient used in cuisine, aromatherapy, and perfume industry thanks to its exceptional flavor. It is also found in Earl Grey Tea!
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a kind of evergreen tree, most likely a cross between sweet orange and lime. According to some data, its genotype includes lemon and/or grapefruit. The tree grows in Italy, but it is believed to have arrived there from Greece centuries ago. Other sources say that the species originated in Southeast Asia. Today, the world’s biggest Bergamot plantations are concentrated in Italian Calabria and Sicily. Also, it is found and produced in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, the Ivory Coast, and even South America (Brazil).
There are two opinions as to the name’s origin: some say it stands for ‘the lord’s pear’ (Turkish), others say it was named after Bergamo town, where it was first used commercially. The tree blossoms in winter and yields yellow pear-shaped fruits in summer.
Calabria, an Italian region, is the world’s biggest bergamot supplier. It is also produced in France and South Turkey.
What is Bergamot Oil?
Bergamot oil is extracted (mostly cold-pressed) from the fruits’ rind. Bergamot oil manufacturers use so called “peelers” – mechanical devices, which strip fruits of the skin. Then the substance goes to centrifuges, where oil is separated from debris and water.
The oil is a transparent greenish or yellowish liquid with a spicy citrus-like smell. It contains an extremely broad range of chemicals, which give bergamot oil a whole array of properties:
Antibiotic: they kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. For this reason, soap and cosmetics containing this oil produce a very healthy effect on skin and make it resistant to infections. Foods that contain bergamot essential oil improve the functioning of digestive and renal systems.
Vermifuge: this oil eliminates germs and worms and therefore is recommended for the treatment of helminthosis and other parasite infestations. Thanks to its fragrance, bergamot-based medicines are great for children who often suffer such infestations.
Analgesic: some of these substances stimulate the production of pain-killing hormones in the body. Therefore, bergamot essential oil can alleviate pain resulting from various diseases and traumas.
Sedative: the oil contains flavonoids, which stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine – natural relaxant hormones. For this reason, bergamot oil can be a good first aid for people dealing with stress and its consequences – insomnia, irritability, agitation, etc. Also, it has a strong antispasmodic effect and reduces involuntary muscle contractions, which otherwise can be extremely painful.
Antiseptic: this property makes bergamot essential oil very effective in the treatment of wounds and ulcers. It speeds up healing and kills bacteria, which may affect damaged areas and cause serious and sometimes deadly (like tetanus) complications.
Deodorant: there are tons of feedback users of perfumes based on bergamot essential oil, about its exceptional refreshing and deodorant properties. The oil gets to the very core of the problem, as it kills germs and bacteria and inhibits their growth and thus prevents them from producing foul odors.
Bergamot essential oil contains bergaptene – a phototoxic substance, which can cause skin burns. If you have used this oil on skin, please, do not expose this area to sunlight!