Just published this month in “Frontiers in Pharmacology” is an in-depth look at research supporting Bergamot essential oil’s variety of potential health benefits: Anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, neuropsychological & neuroprotective, analgesic, and cardiovascular system supporting properties in laboratory research.*
The paper, entitled “Citrus bergamia essential oil: from basic research to clinical application“ notes in the abstract: “The aim of this review was to collect recent data from the literature on C. bergamia essential oil and, through a critical analysis, focus on safety and the beneficial effects on human health.” (1) *
By the way, want to encourage everyone to give Bergamot a try, so we’re offering a free 12ml bottle of our organic Italian Bergamot with every nebulizing diffuser purchased though the month of April! Easily qualify for free shipping too. See the details of this special here!
Yes, Bergamot is one of our very favorite, most used essential oils in our entire collection. It’s great in a diffuser all by itself, particularly when it’s a truly outstanding oil with distinct, beautiful ‘sweet’ & ‘tart’ notes. We find, as the literature supports, it feels to have an uplifting and calming action.
For those whom may not know, the term ‘Bergamot’ is apparently derived from ‘Berga’, a Spanish city from where this bitter-orange fruit may have originated. The vast majority of Bergamot is now grown in coastal regions of Italy (where our Bergamot is sourced)…Like many of the citrus oils, Bergamot benefits from the soil and climate of the region, and your nose can certainly tell when the oil is of really high quality.
- Bergamot’s Traditional Use and Its Anti-Microbial Activity
The authors go on to describe the essential oil’s historic applications: “In Italian folk medicine, it has been used primarily for fever and parasitic diseases, in addition to mouth, skin, respiratory and urinary tract infections, gonococcal infections, leucorrhoea, vaginal pruritus, tonsillitis, and sore throats (Pendino, 1998). For its antiseptic and antibacterial proprieties, BEO has been used as an antimicrobial agent to facilitate wound healing and has been included in preparations used to treat upper respiratory-tract disorders and hyperhidrosis.”
The researchers note several bacterial and fungal strains which the oil has been effective against, and has been successfully used both liquid and ‘vapor’ phases – the vapor phase being our nebulizing diffusers produce…a mist of just the pure essential oil, without water or heat to do so.
- Bergamot’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The only study within this ‘meta’ research regarding Bergamot’s anti-inflammatory action was done on artificially-induced tissue swelling. Yes, Bergamot was shown effective, though we decided to dig a little deeper and found this research performed in 2011: “Bergamot (Citrus bergamia Risso) fruit extracts and identified components alter expression of interleukin 8 gene in cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial cell lines”(2). While the experiments were done “in the petri dish”. this is really cool stuff…why?
Because further experimentation could be done, with…yes, you guessed it, a nebulizing diffuser! Patients with this deadly illness may one day be inhaling Bergamot vapor in the comfort of their own homes, and feeling better. Also, it’s interesting to see how Bergamot reduced the inflammatory response…it actually changed the way a gene was expressed such that inflammatory molecules were not produced (though they were in the controls). That says a lot about how plants and animals interact…which we’ll leave to a whole other post!
- Bergamot’s Anti-Cancer Activity In The Laboratory
Three studies were cited in the review, all indicated Bergamot can lead to cancer cell death via multiple pathways, with one describing that it was a combination of constituents, not one extracted alone from the oil, which had this effect. Just a couple of points here: 1- it seems there are a very wide variety of essential oils with anti-cancer activity, and more research needs to be done in this area…it appears that some oils are better against some cancer cell lines, and different oils better against others. We look forward to this growing area of study. 2 – In every study we’ve read where a single constituent of an essential oil has been tested for anything, it’s been a combination of natural constituents, or the whole oil itself which has produced the more significant effect. Bottom line: Mother nature knows best.
- Neuropsychopharmacological and Neuroprotective Activities (think “Stress Relief”!)
We’ve actually reviewed some of this before – Bergamot, after Lavender, has the most data supporting its anti-anxiety properties. Study after study has shown that animals and humans have lowered stress response after exposure to Bergamot, frequently compared to Diazapam (Valium) it it’s reduction of “stress measurements” (corticosterone levels, for example), though it is not an oil that puts one to sleep – and gratefully, no addiction potential.
What’s NEW is the reporting of neuroprotective properties. Over-excitation (think “too much stress”) can be physically damaging to the nervous system. PRE-treatment with Bergamot prevented such damage from occurring. Two studies mentioned within the meta-data review have uncovered different bio-molecular pathways which this may occur.
Further, published in Phytoterapia, authors of “Neuropharmacology of the essential oil of bergamot”(3) begin their abstract with this statement, which we think says a lot: “Bergamot (Citrus bergamia, Risso) is a fruit most knowledgeable for its essential oil (BEO) used in aromatherapy to minimize symptoms of stress-induced anxiety and mild mood disorders and cancer pain though the rational basis for such applications awaits to be discovered.” They go on to state that exposure to Bergamot essential oil make affect the plasticity of the brain…making it more “flexible” in a way that patient may perceive as relief from the conditions under which the oil was utilized. We’ve interpreted it this way: Bergamot may help one manage stress like “water off a duck’s back”.
- Bergamot’s Analgesic Effects
Three studies were noted which Bergamot produced ‘pain relieving’ effects. We looked at one of these studies more closely….in 2011, Japanese researchers found that Bergamot’s pain reduction potential (the pain was temporarily induced by capsaicin, the “hot” in “hot sauce”) was significantly reduced by the application of Bergamot.(4) Interestingly, the same pharmaceutical which stops opioids from working prevented Bergamot from producing its “antinociceptive” action (the reduced sensitivity to pain).
- Bergamot and the Cardiovascular System
And on to the last of the promises that Bergamot may hold (for now)! Four papers were discussed regarding Bergamot’s effects on the cardiovascular system. There were two primary points: 1 – Bergamot affects physiological processes which could otherwise lead to angina or heart attack. and 2 – Pre-treatment with Bergamot limited inflammation, scar tissue production and oxidative radical formation in experimental models of angioplasty (coronary artery surgery).
Whew! Thank you for reading! We encourage you to do further research on how you can incorporate Bergamot essential oil into your daily aromatherapy routines. Its such a lovely oil – one where, when samples arrive from a new-season’s press of the oil, we anxiously get into the bottles to smell what the Earth and its plants have given us this time around!
* Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
References: 1) Front Pharmacol. 2015; 6: 36.Published online 2015 Mar 2. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2015.00036PMCID: PMC4345801 “Citrus bergamia essential oil: from basic research to clinical application”. Authors: Michele Navarra, Carmen Mannucci, Marisa Delbò, and Gioacchino Calapai.
2) BMC Biochem. 2011; 12: 15.Published online 2011 Apr 15. doi: 10.1186/1471-2091-12-15PMCID: PMC3095539 “Bergamot (Citrus bergamia Risso) fruit extracts and identified components alter expression of interleukin 8 gene in cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial cell lines”. Authors: Monica Borgatti, Irene Mancini, Nicoletta Bianchi, Alessandra Guerrini, Ilaria Lampronti, Damiano Rossi, Gianni Sacchetti, and Roberto Gambari.
3) Fitoterapia. 2010 Sep;81(6):453-61. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2010.01.013. Epub 2010 Jan 20. “Neuropharmacology of the essential oil of bergamot”. Authors: Bagetta G, Morrone LA, Rombolà L, Amantea D, Russo R, Berliocchi L, Sakurada S, Sakurada T, Rotiroti D, Corasaniti MT.
4) Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2011 Jan;97(3):436-43. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2010.09.020. Epub 2010 Oct 13. “Intraplantar injection of bergamot essential oil induces peripheral antinociception mediated by opioid mechanism.” Sakurada T1, Mizoguchi H, Kuwahata H, Katsuyama S, Komatsu T, Morrone LA, Corasaniti MT, Bagetta G, Sakurada S.