Aromatherapy’s Core Antidepressant: Sweet-Tart Bergamot

by Melissa Allen

Looking for a way to bring smiles to your family’s faces? Aromatherapy offers many wonderful means of naturally uplifting the emotions, and one of the favorites is Bergamot essential oil. Its bright, sweet and tart aroma is loved by all ages. The oil is gently pressed from the rinds of Bergamot fruit, and is widely available in an organic variety. The oil is exceptionally safe, and can be used in diffusers, or worn as a natural perfume (as has been done for many centuries). Here we’ll have a brief look at the history of Bergamot’s use, and some practical applications for its use for you and your family.

Originating in tropical Asia, the Bergamot tree is now widely grown in Italy, as well as the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Morocco, and Corsica. Bergamot is named after the Italian city of Bergamo in Lombardy, where the essential oil was first sold for perfumery. The fruit is not edible as the pulp is too sour, resulting in the Bergamot tree being primarily cultivated for its essential oils. It is one of the most popular essential oils used in perfumery – approximately one third of men’s colognes contain Bergamot, and nearly one half of women’s perfumes. Bergamot imparts the characteristic flavor to Earl Grey tea, and is used as a flavoring agent in pastries, root-beer, chewing gum, and toothpastes.

Fresh Bergamot essential oil has nearly 300 compounds: mainly linalyl acetate (30-60 %), linaool (11-22%) and other alcohols, sequiterpenes, terpenes, alkalines, and furocoumarins (including bergapten 0.30-0.39%). Certain furocourmarins, notably bergapten, have been found to be photosensitizing (causing an increased sensitivity to ultraviolet rays), hence Bergamot should not be heavily used on skin that will be significantly exposed to sunlight in the following 72 hours. A ‘bergapten-free’ partially-refined variety is available, and is an excellent choice for massage and skin care formulas.

Bergamot is an excellent antiseptic for use in cases of acne, oily skin, and infected skin. As a natural toner and detoxifier, Bergamot may help to prevent premature aging of the dermis. Bergamot oil is noted to have a slightly irritating effect on the skin in high concentrations, but the opposite healing effects occur when the oil is used at low concentrations (1% or lower in a seed or nut oil). Bergamot’s general deodorizing effects derive from its antiseptic properties, which are also effective against bladder and urinary infections. Adding three to four drops of Bergamot and soaking in a warm bath can help bring relief to the early stages of urinary tract infections.

Bergamot essential oil is foremost a miraculous neuro-tonic, and a powerful helper against depression caused by fatigue or unreleased tensions and frustrations. Aromatherapy massage – using a massage oil with a low concentration of essential oil and any healing massage technique – is exceptionally effective for any stress induced disease.As noted by author and aromatherapist Gabriel Mojay, “Bergamot oil’s psychological action depends on its ability to disperse stagnant Chi (life-force energy). This condition can manifest as tension, irritability, and frustration, and if never released or processed, can eventually lead to depression…Bergamot helps us to relax and let go.” Depression due to the stagnation of life-force energy is often the result of accumulated stress and repressed emotions of grief, frustration or anger. A protective oil by nature, Bergamot is indicated whenever the flow of natural energy is disrupted, leading to imbalanced states such as irritability, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Bergamot encourages the release of repressed and inhibited feelings, thus helping to release and decompress. The impressively bright aroma belies its calming, centering, and clarifying nature; it is able to bring cheer and sooth simultaneously.

Bergamot is further indicated where anxiety and stress related symptoms present as a loss or change in appetite. Bergamot’s antidepressant properties and its regulatory effect on appetite offer assistance when used in cases of eating imbalances such as anorexia nervosa, emotional eating, and bulimia. A natural digestive aid and antispasmodic makes Bergamot effective in cases of colic as well as helping to reduce and relieve flatulence. Bergamot may be used by itself, or in a recipe with other digestive supporting oils like Roman Chamomile, Coriander Seed and Sweet Fennel; an excellent technique is to gently massage a low-dilution formula into the abdomen.

That Bergamot essential oil has found its way into our lives in forms that we inhale, splash on ourselves, and even eat is no mistake. Humans have certainly developed a fondness for its brilliant touch to the olfactory and gustatory senses. Its greatest potential may be as a ‘broad-spectrum’ natural antidepressant; the yellow-green color of the oil hints to its affinity to the heart and solar plexus chakras, where many of us are challenged to remain open in our daily routines. It is the opening of the heart and a fluid allowing of the emotions that lies at the center of our healing journeys. Using Bergamot through all primary aromatherapy techniques can assist in this process, opening us to freedom and joys in our everyday lives.

Bergamot essential oil blends well with Chamomile, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Neroli, Tangerine, and Ylang Ylang essential oils. Bergamot can be used by means of bath, compresses, massage, or inhalation. Blends utilizing the Bergamot essential oil’s uplifting and releasing effects are recommended as follows (add per tablespoon of carrier oil; ‘parts’ may be substituted for ‘drops’ to make your own concentration): To release aggravation and pressure – 2 drops Roman Chamomile, 2 drops Bergamot and 2 drops Sweet Orange. To overcome nervousness and agitation – 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Neroli and 1 part Bergamot. When frustrated and negative – 3 drops Bergamot, 2 drops Sweet Orange and 1 part Neroli. To enhance relaxation and self-confidence – 2 drops Lavender and 1 part Bergamot. These blends may be used in a diffuser as well, to inhale the uplifting fragrances of these oils throughout your day.

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