Bergamot essential oils, subtle and uplifting, uniting one of the most enticing perfume aromas with the transformative potential of this plant’s powerful healing effects. The light green oil is pressed from the peels of the nearly ripe bitter oranges, with an scent like candy for grown-ups; the bright top note combines a fresh sweet-tart orange with slightly spicy balsamic undertones. A member of the botanical family Rutacae, the Bergamot tree (Citrus bergamia) grows up to 15 feet high and yields small round fruit that look much like miniature oranges. The Bergamot essential oil used in aromatherapy should not be confused with the familiar bergamot plant, also known as ‘bee balm’, an herb indigenous to North America.
Originating in tropical Asia, the Bergamot tree is now widely grown in Italy; it is named after the Italian city of Bergamo, where the essential oil was first sold for perfumery. The extremely tart fruit is not edible, thus Bergamot tree being primarily cultivated for its essential oils. It is one of the most popular essential oils used in perfumery – approximately one third of men’s colognes contain Bergamot, and nearly one half of women’s perfumes. Bergamot is the magic ingredient in Earl Grey tea, adding natural citrus notes to the black tea’s flavor.
Fresh Bergamot essential oil has nearly three hundred compounds: mainly linalyl acetate, and linaool (these are sweet smelling, relaxing molecules also found in Lavender), sequiterpenes, terpenes, alkalines, and furocoumarins. Certain furocourmarins, notably bergapten, have been found to be photosensitizing (causing an increased sensitivity to ultraviolet rays), hence Bergamot should not be heavily used on skin that will be significantly exposed to sunlight in the following seventy-two hours. A ‘bergapten-free’ variety is available, and is an excellent choice for massage and skin care formulas.
Bergamot is an excellent antiseptic for use in cases of acne, oily skin, and infected skin. As a natural toner and detoxifier, Bergamot may help to prevent premature aging of the dermis. Bergamot oil is noted to have a slightly irritating effect on the skin in high concentrations, but the opposite healing effects occur when the oil is used at low concentrations (1% or less in carrier oil). Bergamot’s general deodorizing effects derive from its antiseptic properties, which are also effective against bladder and urinary infections. Adding 3- 4 drops of Bergamot to warm water bath can help bring relief to the early stages of urinary tract infections.
Bergamot essential oil is foremost a miraculous neuro-tonic, and a powerful helper against depression caused by fatigue or unreleased tensions and frustrations. Aromatic massage with the oil is naturally indicated for those with poor circulation, heart palpitations, hypertension, and general stress related dis-ease. Depression due to the stagnation of life-force energy is often the result of accumulated stress and repressed emotions of grief, frustration or anger. A protective oil by nature, Bergamot is indicated whenever the flow of natural energy is disrupted, leading to imbalanced states such as irritability, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Bergamot encourages the release of repressed and inhibited feelings, thus helping to release and decompress. The sparkling and yet gentle floral scent gives the oil a sedative yet uplifting quality with the primary effects being calming, balancing centering and clarifying.
Bergamot is further indicated where anxiety and stress related symptoms present as a loss or change in appetite. Bergamot’s antidepressant properties and its regulatory effect on appetite offer assistance when used in cases of eating imbalances such as anorexia, emotional eating, and bulimia. A natural carminative, digestive aid and antispasmodic make Bergamot effective in instances of colic as well as helping to reduce gas in the intestines. Bergamot may be used by itself, or in a recipe with other digestive supporting oils like Roman Chamomile, Coriander Seed and Sweet Fennel; an excellent technique is to gently massage a low-dilution formula into the abdomen.
That Bergamot essential oil has found its way into our lives in forms that we inhale, splash on ourselves, and even eat is no mistake. Its most most important and enticing application may be that of the natural mood-enhancer; the yellow-green color of the oil hints to its affinity to the heart and solar plexus, where many of us are challenged to remain open. It is the opening of the heart and a fluid allowing of the emotions that lies at the center of our healing journeys. Using Bergamot through all primary aromatherapy techniques can assist in this process, opening us to freedom and joys in our everyday lives.
Here are a few formulas employing the dramatic antidepressant and emotional-releasing properties using some of these companion oils: To release aggravation and pressure – 2 parts Roman Chamomile, 2 parts Bergamot and 2 parts Sweet Orange. To overcome nervousness and agitation – 3 parts Lavender, 2 parts Neroli and 1 part Bergamot. When frustrated and negative – 3 parts Bergamot, 2 parts Sweet Orange and 1 part Neroli. To enhance relaxation and self-confidence – 2 parts Lavender and 1 part Bergamot. These blends may be used in a diffuser, or diluted to 3% total concentration in one or more carrier oils for a wonderful aromatherapy massage. “Look in the perfume of flowers and of nature for peace of mind and joy in life” says Wang Wei, summing up Bergamot’s wonderful, multifaceted effects.
September 18 2008 07:27 am | Alternative Medicine