Bergamot Oil

Bergamot Oil (Monarda Didyma)  

By Hwaa Irfan

The word “bergamot” comes from the Turkish beg armudu/begamodi, which means “Lords pear”. Known in English as bergamot, bee balm, American Melissa, Indian plume, mountain balm, Oswego tea amongst other names, and in Arabic as lemun adalya barnati, bergamot oil is achieved through a process of cold press of the peel from the fruit. There are 17 varieties of bergamot, the oil of each which can possess different qualities. The tree-like herbaceous plant.  Of the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family of the plant kingdom, its sweet smell, and ornamental appearance has made bergamot a favorite in garden landscaping – even the surface rootlets give off an attractive fragrance. The attractive flowers can vary in color depending on the specie growing from hard stems, and rough leaves which grow in pairs. It is sometimes called bee balm because the bees are strongly attracted to the blossoms. The plant prefers light soil that is moist and to be exposed only to the morning sun. Wild bergamot, the monarda fistulosa specie, has become an endangered native species in the U.S. as it tends to spread like a weed. Known as horsemint, it still grows wild on Rhodes Island. Monarda fistulosa is drought resistant, and is profuse on the Canadian prairies.

Bergamot leaves have been used by indigenous Americans as a tea to cure stomach complaints, and is commonly used in potpourri, fruit dishes, halva, food flavoring, the perfume and cosmetic industry, as well as for medicinal purposes around the world today. The oil from the citrus bergamia specie of bergamot is added to Earl Grey tea.

Good quality bergamot oil appears yellowish-green to emerald in color. Like most essential oils, one can find adulterated bergamot oil. It can be adulterated with cheaper oils like lemon oil, citral, and acetylated ho oil. It can also be adulterated with synthetically with linalyl acetate, linaool, limonene, citral, terpinyl acetate, diethyl phthalate, and bitter orange lime, thus affecting the therapeutic value. Therefore it is worth establishing a reputable producer of essential oils.

The Monarda Didyma specie produces the most oil. It takes 0.65 – 1.2 g of fresh plant to produce 60-125 kg of oil. It is grown for commercial use in Italy, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea. 

Chemical Properties

Bergamot oil has over 300 compounds some of which are:

  • Thymol
  • Para-cymene
  • D-limonene
  • Carvacrol
  • Linalool
  • Hydrothymoquinone
  • Linalyl acetate (citrus bergamia)
  • Bergapten (citrus bergamia)
  • Bergamottin (citrus bergamia)
  • Citropten (citrus bergamia)
  • Xanthotoxin (citrus bergamia)
  • A-Thujene (monarda didyma)
  • A- Pinene (monarda didyma)
  • B-Pinene (monarda didyma)
  • Camphene (monarda didyma)
  • 1-Hepten (monarda didyma)
  • B-Myrcene (monarda didyma)
  • A-Phellondrene (monarda didyma)
  • A-Terpenene (monarda didyma)
  • P-Cymeme/Limonene (monarda didyma)
  • Cineole (monarda didyma)
  • Ocimene (monarda didyma)
  • Bornyl acetate (monarda didyma)
  • Borneol (monarda didyma)
  • Terpinen (monarda didyma)
  • Terpineol (monarda didyma)
  • A-Terpineol (monarda didyma)
  • Nerol (monarda didyma)
  • Geraniol (monarda didyma)
  • Neral (monarda didyma)
  • Jasmone (monarda didyma)
  • Germacrene-D(monarda didyma)

In the pharmaceutical industry, Psoralen is a product of bergamot oil which has been used orally in the treatment of psoriasis, and vitiligo.                                                                                     

Therapeutic Qualities

The refreshing floral aroma is affective in cases of depression, and suppressed emotions, and adds an uplifting feeling to the atmosphere when burnt applied as vapor therapy or through a diffuser.

  • Analgesic
  • Antibiotic
  • Antiemetic (Monarda punctata)
  • Antidepressant
  • Antiseptic
  • Cicatrisant
  • Carminative
  • Cordial
  • Deoderant
  • Diaphoretic (Monarda punctata)
  • Disinfectant
  • Diuretic (Monarda punctata)
  • Emmenagogue (Monarda punctata)
  • Febrifuge
  • Insecticide
  • Relaxant
  • Rubefacient
  • Sedative
  • Spasmolytic
  • Stimulant
  • Stomachic
  • Tonic
  • Vermifuge
  • Vulnerary

See It All Makes Good Scents for definition

As an antiseptic and as antibiotic bergamot oil protects against infection, and prevents growth of unwanted microbes in the body. As an analgesic it eases localized pain. As a spasmolytic cramps, and any convulsive activity that leads to a spasm are eased and as an astringent that contracts muscles and tissues, the oil helps to strengthen hold of hair on the scalp, tighten gums, and narrow blood vessels in cases of haemorrhaging. As a cordial, bergamot oil is a tonic to the heart. As a diaphoretic, the oil helps to promote sweating, which helps to expel toxins from the body; and as a vulnerary bergamot oil stops bleeding in the case of cuts and wounds, and helps to prevent cell degeneration. 

The thymol present in bergamot oil acts a strong antiseptic against fungal bacterial, and parasitic infections/disease.

Helps to relieve phlegm related problems

Bergamot oil prevents herpes viruses. 

Added to massage oils, bergamot helps to reduce unnecessary tension, and sooths joints with tight muscles. 

Indications

  • Acne, eczema, seborrhea, psoriasis  (related to emotional state)
  • Cuts and wounds that take long to heal
  • Varicose veins
  • Body odor
  • Digestive problems, colic, slow digestion, intestinal infections
  • Anxiety, suppressed emotions, insomnia, depression
  • Hot climates
  • Leucorrhea

Contraindications 

This is one oil that should be mixed when used on the body, by adding one drop of bergamot oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil.

Should not be applied neat to the skin as the psoralen and bergapten content is phototoxic otherwise can result in serious skin burning once exposed to the sun. Bergapten changes the potassium balance which can result in twitching and muscle cramps.

Application

Can be used in the form of vapor therapy in the form of an oil burner, diffuser, or on a handkerchief, or pillow/cushion.

Can be ingested

Can be added to a carrier oil (e.g. wheat germ, sesame, jojoba, grapeseed) for dilution. 

Can be added to massage oils.

Sources:

“Bergamot.” http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bergam32.html

“Bergamot.” http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/factsheets/BERGAMOT.html

“Bergamot Oil”. http://www.drugs.com/npp/bergamot-oil.html

Burfield, T “The Anatomy of Adulteration”. http://www.abundantlifeessentials.com/adulteration.htm

Mazza, G et al. “A Source of Geraniol, Linalool, Thymol, and Carvacrol-Rich Essential Oils.” http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1993/v2-628.html

Synonyms for Bergamot Orange (Citrus Aurantium) http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Citr_sin.html

Aromatherapy Series:

It All Makes Good Scents!

Amber Oil

Angelica Root Oil

Anise Oil

Basil Oil

Bay Oil

1 Comment

One thought on “Bergamot Oil

  1. Great information. Thanks a lot for sharing this. I was not aware of your site, however definitely will come back again much more frequently at this point. Including you to my personal favorites.

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