What is bergamot and how beneficial is it?

What is bergamot and how beneficial is it?
  • What’s happened
  • Benefit
  • Harm
  • How to use
  • Expert commentary

The material was commented on:

Natalia Tananakina, endocrinologist at Meditsina JSC (Clinic of Academician Roitberg), candidate of medical sciences;

Olga Kalinina, dermatologist, cosmetologist, nutritionist (Nutritional Therapist, CPD, London), certified specialist in IV therapy (intravenous nutritional therapy) at the Real Clinic.

What is bergamot

Bergamot fruits are not eaten fresh because their pulp is bitter and sour in taste.

Bergamot is the fruit of an evergreen citrus tree that blooms in winter. It is similar in size to an orange and can be yellow or green depending on the stage of ripening. The word “bergamot” comes from the Italian bergamotto, derived from the name of the city of Bergamo. The tree mainly grows in southern Italy (80% of the world’s bergamot comes from the administrative region of Calabria), France, as well as Argentina, Brazil, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Southeast Asia. The harvest usually ripens in November-December.

The fruits are not eaten fresh because their pulp is bitter and sour in taste. But bergamot is actively used as an ingredient for tea, as well as in folk medicine, aromatherapy, cosmetology and perfumery. In some regions, jam and marmalade are made from it. Perfume with a strong aroma of bergamot appeared in the royal courts of France more than 500 years ago. During the Renaissance, the oil of the fruit was also used in medicine: it was believed that it could protect against fever. People also wore bergamot perfume around their necks to cover up body odor.

Cold-pressed bergamot essential oil is often diluted with more budget-friendly analogues: rosewood oil, monarda oil, and bitter orange oil.

What are the benefits of bergamot: three properties

Scientists believe aromatherapy using bergamot and orange may ease anxiety

Scientists believe aromatherapy using bergamot and orange may ease anxiety

Bergamot fruit contains various phytochemicals, flavonoids and other health-promoting compounds. Thanks to its rich composition, it can lower cholesterol, glucose, and reduce inflammation (1), (2).

1. Reduces anxiety

The study involved people awaiting gallbladder surgery. 60 patients were divided into two groups of 30 people. In one, participants underwent an aromatherapy session with bergamot essence, in the other, with odorless grape seed oil. After this, the first group experienced less anxiety, the level of anxiety of the patients decreased. Scientists believe that aromatherapy using bergamot can relieve anxiety in the face of difficult situations in life, but more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.

2. Reduces inflammation

In another study, experimental mice were given bergamot juice daily. As a result, the rodents showed a decrease in inflammatory markers. It is hypothesized that the fruit’s anti-inflammatory properties may be effective in treating inflammatory bowel disease in humans, but scientists need more information to include bergamot in therapy.

3. Helps control glucose and cholesterol levels

60 people with type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidemia (abnormally elevated levels of lipids in the blood) were divided into three groups: two of them took a polyphenol fraction (a powder with a high concentration of polyphenols from the juice and pith of bergamot), and the third took a placebo. As a result, the levels of glucose, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides decreased in diabetics from the first and second groups. However, more data is needed to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of bergamot in combating elevated glucose and cholesterol levels.

Harm of bergamot

Bergamot is generally safe to consume in reasonable quantities. However, there are rare cases where products based on it could be harmful to health.

  1. Allergy. In case of a reaction to oranges, tangerines and other citrus fruits, consuming bergamot as an essential oil or in other forms may cause an allergy.
  2. Skin sensitivity. Bergamot oil increases skin sensitivity to sunlight.
  3. Skin irritation. Before applying concentrated bergamot oil to the skin, it is worth mixing it with a carrier oil (coconut, olive) to avoid possible unwanted effects.

There is no exact data yet on how bergamot can affect the health of pregnant and lactating women, as well as the elderly. Therefore, before adding it to your diet, it is better to consult your doctor.

How to use bergamot

Usually zest or pieces of dried bergamot are added to tea.

Usually zest or pieces of dried bergamot are added to tea.

Bergamot is used to make marmalade, added to tea, taken as a bioactive supplement, and used in folk medicine and aromatherapy, cosmetology and perfumery.

  • In tea. Usually a ready-made blend is used for brewing. Add zest or pieces of dried bergamot to tea. Before pouring the tea leaves, it is better to pour boiling water over the teapot.
  • In perfumery. Bergamot is a component of many famous perfumes. It adds citrus notes to the aroma, which develop individually over time. Bergamot combines with other citrus and floral scents.
  • In cosmetology. Bergamot oil is often added to hair care products, shower gels and soaps.
  • In aromatherapy. Bergamot oil is a popular component of essential compositions, as well as an independent product. It is recommended for the prevention of anxiety and inflammation.
What is bergamot and how beneficial is it?

Expert commentary

Bergamot essential oil helps improve breathing during colds