This is the beginning of our new deeper look series. As we mentioned in our last post introducing this series, we will be exploring ten essential oils more deeply with the specific objective of sharing the following information about each oil:
- Healing/medicinal properties;
- Aromatic, topical or internal applications;
- Plant character traits; and
- Mind, body, spirit uses.
#1 of 10: Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot (citrus bergamia) is a pleasant aromatic oil with many important applications for both mind, body and spirit.
Bergamot oil is produced from the peel of the small bergamot fruits which are said to be like “miniature oranges”. The fruits grow in a tree that reaches from 4-12 metres. The tree has a central trunk with numerous branches which can make the girth of the tree almost as long as its height – especially on farms cultivating the trees for essential oil production where the height of the tree is usually kept at 5 metres. Bergamot tree leaves are dark green and ovoid in shape. The fruits of the tree are star-shaped.
The production of bergamot oil may have started at the city of Bergamo in the Lombardia region of Italy. In Italy, Bergamot was widely used in folk medicine but was virtually unknown in other parts of the world. From Italy, this lovely tree was gradually introduced into other parts of the Mediterranean and into Africa. It is now cultivated in Italy, Sicily, Corsica, Morocco and Ivory Coast and used all over the world.
Bergamot Oil Massage for Depression
The fresh, citrus-like aroma of bergamot appeals to both women and men. It is at once uplifting and calming which yields it a unique ability to release stress caused by tension, irritability and anger. Bergamot is used in the treatment of people suffering from depression and anxiety. The oil soothes the nerves and has a wonderful calming effect on the mind and the body when used in topical applications as part of a massage session.
When using bergamot essential oil in massage, make sure to mix it in with a carrier oil using concentrations of less than 2% essential oil to about 98% massage oil. Bergamot oil is photo-toxic which means that it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Sunburns are completely avoidable, however, if you avoid exposure to the sun for about 12 hours for those parts of the body which have been treated with bergamot oil. For additional safety, concentrations of 1-2% of bergamot oil are less likely to cause an exaggerated reaction to the sun on your skin.
Bergamot oil is also excellent as a relaxing bath. In this case also, mix the essential oil in a carrier oil using less than 2% bergamot in total.
Healing the Skin
Bergamot oil is a disinfectant and is used to treat a plethora of skin problems. Mixed in with eucalyptus oil, or on its own, bergamot oil is effective against herpes simplex I virus which causes cold sores. For cold sore treatment, dilute the bergamot oil in alcohol and try to catch the virus as it is starting to activate.
No matter the nature of your skin disorder, the antiseptic qualities of bergamot essential oil are a good first defense. Among other purposes, bergamot oil is used for acne, oily skin, wounds, psoriasis, shingles, and boils. With shingles, combine with tea tree or lavender or use all three together for best effect. For boils, bergamot oil used in a hot compress helps to suck the infection out.
Bergamot essential oil is antibacterial and antiviral. It can be used for urinary tract infections for both sexes, and for vaginal infections for women. Applied topically in a mild solution, bergamot oil acts as a disinfectant on your intimate areas and thus facilitates recovery. Women suffering from vaginal itching or mild discharges will find that adding bergamot oil to their hygienic routine is a huge step towards getting rid of these uncomfortable ailments. For urinary infections, such as cystitis and urethritis, you can mix bergamot oil in chamomile, sandalwood or tea tree oil to expedite healing.
A major area of application for bergamot essential oil is in treating abdominal issues. Because the calming and cooling effect of bergamot makes it an antispasmodic it can regulate the nervous system and relieve involuntary muscle movements – including those inside your digestive tract. This is a great help in treating various stomach troubles such as abdominal distension and constipation. When your nerves and your muscles are allowed to relax your tummy can more freely release the gas and fecal matter accumulated inside your body from stress, overeating and other unhealthy life situations or habits.
Please note, however, that even when treating belly aches, bergamot oil is not to be taken internally. Bergamot works on your tummy by soothing your nervous system which in turn will result in a greatly improved functioning of stomach and intestines. To do this, the bergamot can be absorbed into your body either by the skin or via the nose.
For internal use we recommend Earl Grey Tea. Bergamot oil is used as an ingredient in this classic uplifting and cooling afternoon pick-me-up.
Bergamot oil can be used as personal perfume and for room fragrance. It is a key ingredient in the traditional eau-de-cologne, manufactured since Napoleonic times. Vapourised in a diffuser, bergamot oil not only makes your house smell beautiful but also relaxes your nerves and your muscles. The scent of bergamot oil is characterised as green, fruity, sweet and somewhat floral. It has a dry and cool energy and it blends nicely with almost all flower oils.
In traditional Chinese medicine, bergamot oil is used to even out the flow of Qi-energy (the “life force” that resides in everything and everyone according to eastern medicine and philosophy). It also has a harmonising effect on the Qi of the liver. Bergamot releases repressed feelings that may lead to insomnia, anxiety, depression and mood swings. It can help combat addictions and give rise to a more optimistic and spontaneous outlook on life.
A Word on Safety
The International Fragrance Research Association (IFRA) recommends that bergamot essential oil is kept at 0.4% or less in solutions that are not meant for massages or baths. This adds up to about 8 drops of bergamot essential oil in 100 mL of carrier oil. In massage oil solutions and bath and shower concentrations the amount of bergamot oil should be less than 2%, about 30 drops in 100 mL. Because of its photo-toxic nature, never use bergamot oil undiluted on the areas of your skin that will become exposed to sunlight.
If you keep these precautions in mind when using bergamot essential oil, it is possible to enjoy the many health benefits of this versatile oil without risking sunburn.