Italian folk medicine harnessed the healing powers of this inedible citrus fruit hundreds of years before anyone else was even aware of its existence. Bergamot takes its name from the Italian village where it was traditionally used for alleviating intestinal problems and reducing fevers.
The fruit, which looks like a cross between an orange and a lemon, is characterised by its wonderfully exhilarating citrus scent. Indeed its aroma was enjoyed to such an extent that the oil, extracted from the peel of the fruit, became an important ingredient in the development of Eau de Cologne.
The plant is probably best known for its uplifting properties and appears to ease depression, stress, grief, worry or an anxious state of mind. As such it lends itself to a variety of ‘cosmetic’ uses such as an air purifier, or a relaxing massage oil. Its antiseptic and anti-viral properties are an added benefit which may protect against airborne bacteria.
Home sweet home
Mix four drops of bergamot with one drop of juniper, neroli and camomile and add to an oil burner, prefilled with water. It’s an ideal way to kick start the day and it also puts visitors at their ease.
Mix two drops of bergamot, one drop of lemon and 20 drops of prediluted neroli to 10mls of grapeseed oil or a similar light carrier oil. Blend together well before massaging into the skin. Rosemary and Petitgrain can also be used to remedy stress, tension or aching muscles.
The antiseptic properties of the fruit make it highly effective in the treatment of acne and other skin problems. Simply stroke the face to stimulate the circulation and the lymphatic flow, but remember, never use essential oils undiluted on the skin.
Abscess, acne, asthma, boils, chickenpox, depression, cold sores, menopausal problems, psoriasis, shingles, stress, urinary problems, antiseptic, wound healing, digestive tonic, immune stimulant, astringent, stimulative, helps combat oily skin
The beauty of bergamot
- Indian research has found that it can help to regulate the appetite.
- If you constantly suffer from cystitis, try adding well diluted oil (1%) to your bath.
- For cold sores, mix one drop with eucalyptus diluted in a little alcohol and dab on – it may sting, but highly effective.
- As recommended by the famous French herbalist Maurice Messegue, use as a disinfectant for wounds, abscesses and boils.
- Why not buy a bergamot body spray and use as required throughout the day to ease the stresses and strains of modern life.
Now you know all there is to know about the fruit, why not sit down and enjoy the delightful flavour of Earl Grey tea. Of course, now you are an expert, you would recognise that fresh, citrus aroma anywhere wouldn’t you?
Bergaptene, one of the constituents of the oil, can cause photosensitivity. This means that once applied, the oil will make your skin sensitive to UV rays. Therefore you must wait at least six hours before using a sunbed or going out in the sun. However, a bergaptene free alternative is also available.
The essential oil must be used in low dilutions of 1% or less – never apply it neat. Always dilute with a carrier oil such as grapeseed or sunflower.