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Your ultimate guide to bergamot oil

Extracted from the rinds of the citrus fruit Citrus bergamia which grows on bergamot orange trees, bergamot essential oil is best known for its soothing scent.

Primarily cultivated in Italy, bergamot essential oil was named after the town of Bergamo, although it is now grown across the world. The rind of the fruit is cold pressed to extract the sweet, citrus-scented oil which offers a range of therapeutic benefits.

But what is bergamot essential oil used for, and what are some of its benefits?  

Content/Quick links

  • What is bergamot oil used for?
  • How to use bergamot oil
  • Bergamot oil for stress and relaxation
  • Bergamot oil for anxiety
  • Bergamot oil for sleep
  • Bergamot oil for pain relief
  • Bergamot oil for skin
  • Bergamot oil for hair
  • Side effects of bergamot oil
  • To sum up

What is bergamot oil used for? 

Bergamot essential oil is found in many products from perfumes and colognes to toiletries and cosmetics. It is also used in many types of food and drink. Perhaps its most famous use is as the flavouring in Earl Grey tea.

Bergamot essential oil offers many therapeutic benefits, making it a popular choice amongst aromatherapists and essential oil lovers alike.

Bergamot essential oil is unique amongst citrus-based oils in its ability to be both calming and uplifting at the same time. These properties make bergamot oil ideal for relieving anxiety and stress whilst promoting relaxation.

This oil is also cleansing and purifying, making it perfect for topical use such as for facials and massages. However, you should always dilute bergamot oil by mixing it with a carrier oil before applying it to your skin to avoid irritation.

This popular oil is touted for a multitude of additional ailments and benefits, both anecdotally and in traditional medicines, making it sound like a panacea; however, there is little evidence to support many of these claims. Here we discuss only the most founded bergamot benefits and the safest ways to use it. 

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How to use bergamot oil

If you want to reap the benefits of bergamot essential oil, you’ll first need to know how to use it. Your choice of method will depend largely on the benefits you are hoping to achieve.

Inhaling bergamot oil

Many people enjoy inhaling the soothing scent of bergamot oil. Try adding a few drops of this oil to a diffuser to fill your room with the uplifting and calming aroma of bergamot.

If you don’t own a diffuser, you can add a couple drops of bergamot oil to the hot wax of a lit candle to create your own personal scented candle. You can also try adding bergamot oil into a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. 

Aromatherapy massage with bergamot oil

Bergamot oil is ideal for use during an aromatherapy massage if you’re looking for a calming and uplifting scent. It’s also great for your skin, thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

However, you should never apply bergamot oil directly to your skin as it can cause skin irritation. Mix a few drops of the essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. The mixture can then be massaged into your skin whilst you enjoy the soothing and uplifting aroma of bergamot essential oil.

Aromatherapy bath with bergamot oil

Adding bergamot oil to your bath is a great way to enjoy the many benefits of this versatile essential oil. Before adding bergamot oil to your bath, you’ll need to mix it with a carrier oil such as grapeseed, jojoba or sweet almond oil. If you don’t have any carrier oil on hand, you can also mix it with full-fat cow’s milk to enable the essential oil to disperse effectively throughout the water. 

Bergamot oil room spray

If you want to target specific areas with your bergamot essential oil, you can add a few drops of bergamot oil into a clean spray bottle and top it up with warm water. The solution can then be sprayed onto your furniture, carpets or around your room.

Bergamot oil for stress and relaxation

If you’re struggling with stress, practicing mindfulness, yoga and meditation can help. However, there’s also some evidence to show that the aroma of bergamot oil can be effective in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

Bergamot oil has been used for centuries for relaxation. A 2015 study found that bergamot essential oil helps to improve mental wellbeing whilst lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Participants in this study also reported reduced fatigue.

To use bergamot oil for relaxation or stress relief, you should combine it with a carrier oil such as sweet almond, jojoba or avocado oil. You can then massage it sparingly into your skin or add it to a bath.

You can also choose to inhale the soothing scent of bergamot oil by adding a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser.  

Bergamot oil for anxiety

Many people find bergamot essential oil extremely effective in relieving symptoms associated with anxiety, and the effects of bergamot oil on anxiety have been proven in many studies.

A 2013 study found that bergamot essential oil helped with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. The study found that the inhalation of bergamot oil communicated signals to the body’s olfactory system, stimulating the production of both dopamine and serotonin. This resulted in mood regulation.

A further study in 2017 measured the impact of exposing women to the aroma of bergamot oil for 15 minutes each week as they visited a mental health clinic. After eight weekly visits, the women who inhaled bergamot oil achieved 17% higher positivity scores on a Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PNAS) than the women who inhaled a placebo vapour. This demonstrates the positive impact of bergamot essential oil on both mood and anxiety.  

Bergamot oil for sleep

Citrus-based oils are typically known for invigorating and energising properties. However, bergamot essential oil is unique as a citrus oil in its ability to induce the physiological changes required for sleep. This includes reducing heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Anxiety and stress are two of the leading causes of sleep problems. The calming and uplifting scent of bergamot essential oil helps to clear your mind in preparation for a restful night of sleep. It also reduces your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, along with adrenaline, leaving your mind peaceful and relaxed.

A study carried out on a cardiac rehabilitation unit discovered that bergamot oil is highly effective in improving the quality of sleep, including reducing the number of wakings per night. So, if you’re looking to stop waking up overnight, bergamot may be the perfect essential oil for you. 

Bergamot oil for pain relief

Bergamot essential oil is also known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. This is due to the linalool and carvacrol compounds which are found within bergamot oil.

A study published in 2015 found that bergamot oil is effective in treating chronic pain. In particular, this study found that bergamot oil was effective in reducing neuropathic pain which is often resistant to opioids.

A review of studies in 2019 looked at the effects of essential oil compounds on pain response in both humans and animals. This review found that both linalool and carvacrol had anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it effective for pain relief.

If you have aches or pains, try mixing a few drops of bergamot essential oil with a carrier oil and massaging into the affected area. You could also try inhaling the aroma of bergamot oil for further pain-relieving benefits.  

Bergamot oil for skin

Bergamot essential oil is widely used as a treatment for acne thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also helpful for cysts and pimples, offering an analgesic effect. However, avoid using bergamot oil topically if you have sensitive skin, and always perform a patch test before use.

You can apply bergamot oil mixed with a carrier oil directly to spots, cysts, pimples and blackheads. Leave the treatment on overnight and rinse off in the morning. However, don’t leave the treatment on during the daytime as bergamot oil can increase photosensitivity when exposed to sunlight.

For oily and acne-prone skin, we’d recommend using jojoba oil as a carrier oil along with bergamot essential oil. Jojoba oil is light and nourishing, balancing the production of excess oil on your skin, leaving your pores clean and clear.

You can also make a bergamot face mask. Simply mix ¼ cup of natural yogurt with 2-3 drops of bergamot oil. Apply to your face and relax for around 20 minutes. The milk will sooth and nourish your skin whilst the bergamot oil targets any spots, pimples or blackheads. When you rinse off your face mask with warm water, your skin will be left feeling hydrated and refreshed.  

Bergamot oil for hair

With its moisturising and conditioning properties, many people swear by bergamot oil for giving them healthy, soft and shiny hair. If you’re looking to tame your curls or achieve red carpet locks, it could be worth trying bergamot oil on your hair.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that bergamot oil could encourage your hair to grow faster and stronger. Evidence suggests that this essential oil may improve circulation through your scalp, ensuring the proper delivery of both nutrients and oxygen to your hair follicles to encourage healthy growth.

Try combining a few drops of bergamot oil with a carrier oil such as avocado, jojoba or coconut oil and massage into your scalp. Leave it to work its magic overnight before rinsing out. You’ll be left with soft, scented hair that has a celebrity-grade shine.  

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Side effects of bergamot oil

Although bergamot oil has countless benefits, there are also some safety guidelines that you should be aware of.

You should always mix bergamot oil with a carrier oil before applying it to your skin. Never apply undiluted or neat bergamot oil to your skin as it may cause irritation.

Some people may find bergamot essential oil irritating to the skin, even when mixed with a carrier oil. That’s why it’s important to perform a patch test using your chosen mixture before applying it more liberally to your skin.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction or sensitivity to bergamot oil include redness, a burning sensation, hives or blisters. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately rinse the oil from your skin and contact your medical provider for advice.

Bergamot oil contains the compound bergapten which can be phototoxic. This means that it can cause the skin to become irritated or damaged when exposed to sunlight. For this reason, you should wash bergamot oil from your skin before going outdoors.

If you are suffering from any health conditions, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should always check with your medical provider before using any essential oils. This is because some essential oils may interact with certain medications or cause side effects for those suffering from pre-existing medical conditions.

If in doubt, it’s always safest to contact your medical provider for advice before beginning to use aromatherapy.  

To sum up

Bergamot essential oil is widely found in perfumes, cosmetics and air fresheners thanks to its uplifting and soothing aromas.

Not only does bergamot oil smell great, but it also has a vast range of benefits from reducing the appearance of acne and giving your hair a healthy glow to reducing the symptoms of anxiety and improving sleep.

However, bergamot oil can cause skin irritation if not diluted with a carrier oil before being applied topically.

If you have any questions about using bergamot essential oil, or for tips on aromatherapy, you can contact an aroma expert at:

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