Bergamot essential oil: The confidence oil - The essential oils collection [Oils101]

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Our sense of smell is strongly connected to our emotions and memories as our scent receptors are located next to the emotional centers in our brain, the amygdala and hippocampus. That is one of the reasons why aromatherapy is so powerful – using oils can trigger the body’s own healing process to begin, as well as soothe and calm your mind to actually allow the process to take place.  Essential oils can also interact with certain hormones, neurotransmitters, or enzymes, resulting in a specific change to our bodies’ chemistry. Oils are powerful, and they have little or no side effects.

Bergamot Essential Oil

Basil essential oil, a life lead simply, natural health

The confidence oil, so named because of the power that this oil has on uplifting and improving your mood and self-esteem. It is also traditionally used to alleviate stress and anxiety. Part of the citrus family, bergamot essential oil is cold pressed from the rind of the bergamot fruit, a tropical plant with a sweet yet spicy aroma. Popular in perfumery, it is often used as the “top note”. Used in tea preparation, bergamot essential oil is often added to black tea to make the very popular Earl Grey tea. These are only some of the applications of this often ignored essential oil, and they are not even the medicinal uses, with applications for cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory system health.

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The scientific name of the Bergamot plant is Citrus bergamia, and it is something of a hybrid between a sour orange and a lemon. The oil is cold pressed from the rinds, with properties that make it antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic, antidepressant, disinfectant, and more. Although originally from Southeast Asia, the plant is now widely cultivated in Europe, especially in the southern part of Italy, and was even named after an Italian city – Bergamo in Lombardy.  Today, it is also produced in parts of Africa (Ivory Coast and Morroco), South America (Argentina and Brazil), and the Middle East (Turkey).

There is a list of surprising benefits, including fever reduction, a remedy for sore throats, fighting parasites and improving digestion.

[Refer to the safety information mentioned below.]

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Character of the oil

Botanical name

Citrus bergamia

Common method of extraction

Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled (less frequently)

Plant part typically used

Citrus Rind (Peel)

Colour

Green/Golden

Consistency

Thin

Perfumery note

Top

Strength of initial aroma

Medium

Aromatic description

Fresh, orange/lemon/citrusy, slightly floral

Benefits and uses

1.    Helps to relieve depression

Bergamot essential oil is widely known for its ability to improve mood, promote cheerfulness and increase energy thanks to some of its chemical components such as alpha-pinene and limonene. The oil improves the blood circulation, leading to these benefits, and can be used as a natural support for depression and anxiety treatments.

2.    Helps lower blood pressure

The oil assists in maintaining proper metabolic rates through the stimulation of digestive juices, bile, insulin and other hormonal secretions. This aids the digestive system and improves the absorption of nutrients, further assisting in the breakdown of sugars which can lead to lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that the oil, combined with lavender and ylang ylang, can be used to reduce serum cortisol levels as well.

3.  Helps lower blood sugar levels

Through the stimulation of hormonal secretions, the oil can help to maintain proper metabolic rates with a stimulating effect on the secretion of bile, digestive juices and insulin. This improves digestion, absorption, assimilation and decomposition of sugar, leading to a decrease in the blood sugar levels.

 

4.    Prevents and fights infections

Widely used in the beauty industry, bergamot is a popular addition to soaps because of its ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. Especially successful to stop the growth of Campylobacter jejuniEscherichia coliListeria monocytogenesBacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus. Linalool, an active component found in the oil, is also effective against foodborne pathogens.

5.    Relieves stress and anxiety

Bergamot oil is a relaxant — it reduces nervous tension, and works as a stress reliever and natural support for other treatments for anxiety.

6.    Alleviates pain

Bergamot oil is a natural analgesic, meaning it is great at reducing the pain and tension associated with sprains, muscle aches and headaches. Scientists believe that it is Linalool, an active compound found in Bergamot oil that has an effect on the pain receptors. They are hypothesizing that linalool inhibits the release of substance P, a compound that’s involved in the transmission of pain and other nerve impulses.

7.    Boosts skin health

The oil is soothing, antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it perfect for topical application. Used to decrease the appearance of scars and other marks, the oil can also be used to tone the skin, soothe irritations and speed up healing.  

8.    Aids with digestion

Traditional Chinese Medicine makes use of the bergamot peels and the whole fruits to treat indigestion. The oil can be used with the same success.

9.    Works as natural deodorant

Because of its antibacterial properties, Bergamot oil prevents the growth of germs that cause body odor. The refreshing and citrusy smell of bergamot oil makes it a great addition to any natural deodorant or air freshener, where the sometimes strong aroma can help to eliminate odours on the body or surroundings.

10. May help to reduce fever

Bergamot essential oil may help to reduce fevers based on its ability to fight bacterial infections as well as aiding the body in cooling the body by alleviating stress and stimulating the secretion of the hormones needed to decrease cortisol levels.

11. Boosts oral health

Bergamot oil fights the bacteria that causes decay, bad breath and gum disease.

12. Fights respiratory conditions

Bergamot oil has antimicrobial properties, so it can help to prevent the growth and spread of pathogens that can cause respiratory conditions. The oil is also a wonderful natural cough remedy – simply rub on your throat (diluted) or diffuse to help combat colds and flu.

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Precautions

Bergamot essential oil is safe for most people when added to food or applied diluted topically in small amounts. Because the oil is derived from a fruit of the citrus family, it may make the skin sensitive to the sun and more vulnerable to skin cancer — people who work with bergamot can develop skin problems, including blisters, scabs, pigment spots, rashes, sensitivity to the sun and cancerous changes.

Because bergamot oil might increase your sensitivity to sunlight, applying it topically along with medication that increases sensitivity to sunlight could increase the chances of sunburn, blistering or rashes on areas of skin exposed to sunlight. Be sure to wear sunblock and protective clothing when spending time in the sun, especially if you use these types of medications.

There have been serious side effects in children who have taken large amounts of bergamot oil, so, as always, use caution when using this essential oil on or around your children.

Bergamot oil may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. This could affect blood sugar control and cause blood sugar levels to go too low. If you use bergamot oil and have diabetes, make sure to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. If you are scheduled to have surgery, stop using bergamot oil at least two weeks beforehand, as it may interfere with blood sugar control during the procedure.

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 Major constituents:

  • (+)-Limonene

  • Linalyl acetate

  • Linalool

  • Sabinene

  • Gamma-Terpinene

  • Bergapten

Blending tips:

Bergamot oil blends with Clary Sage, Frankincense, Mandarin, Jasmine, Black Pepper, Cypress, Geranium, Nutmeg, Sandalwood, Orange, Rosemary, Vetiver and Ylang-Ylang oil. It is particularly complementary with other citrus oils.

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Word of Caution: 

Bergamot oil must be protected from sunlight, because bergapten, one of its components, becomes poisonous if exposed to sunlight. That is why the oil should always be stored in dark bottles in dark places.

Interactions and side effects of basil essential oil

Basil essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy since it can have an impact on hormonal levels as well as muscle and nerve function. It’s also not appropriate for anyone with epilepsy.

As with all essential oils, especially those that are new to you, always test for skin sensitivity prior to using them on sensitive or widespread areas. Do a skin patch test first on your feet or forearm to make sure you don’t experience irritation like redness, burning, hives or allergic reactions. Also, keep basil oil away from your eyes and the insides of your ears or nose.

General safety information

Because essential oils are highly concentrated they should always be used with caution. Essential oils should not be used undiluted, and should never be applied to the eyes or mucous membranes. Toxicity can occur if too much of the oil is absorbed, hence always dilute. A skin patch test is always recommended prior to using any new essential oil, or after first time use after a long break. Although most essential oils have been proven by science to work as efficiently, or even more, as allopathic drugs, they are not a substitute for medical care. Chronic conditions should not be self-treated, and you should never avoid or delay getting standard medical care. Always consult with your doctor first. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their doctor before using any natural or alternative treatment, and also speak to your doctor first before using oils on your kids. People who are epileptic, have liver damage or issues, have cancer, are diabetic, or have any other medical problem, or who suspect they might have any of these conditions, should definitely consult with their doctor first.

Shelf life and care:

Although pure essential oils do not go rancid, they do gradually lose their therapeutic value and aroma as a result of oxidation. The lifespan varies according to the botanical, distillation process, storage and care as well as manufacturer and supplier. To maximize the shelf life, store the oils in dark glass bottles, tightly closed, in a cool and dry place. Keep out of the sun. If the aroma, thickness or colour has changed, discard.

Important information about essential oils:

The essential oil information provided on A life lead simply is intended for educational purposes only. The references to safety information, constituents and percentages is generalized information. The data is not necessary complete and is not guaranteed to be accurate. The essential oil photos are intended to represent the typical and approximate colour of each essential oil. However, essential oil colour can vary based on harvesting, distillation, age of the essential oil and other factors.

Essential oil book suggestions:

Wilson, R. 2002. Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty. This book covers the extraction of Essential oils.

Lawless, J. 2013. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health and Well Being. San Francisco: Conari Press.

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