Essential Oil Profile: Bergamot

by Amelia E. Stone, RN


Common Name: Bergamot

Latin Binomial: Citrus bergamia

Family: Rutaceae

Production Method: cold pressed

Countries of Origin: Italy

Typical Constituents: [+]-Limonene (27.4-52.0%), Linalyl acetate (17.1-40.4%), Linalool (1.7-20.6%), Sabinene (0.8-12.8%), γ-Terpinene (5.0-11.4%), b-Pinene (4.4-11.0%), α-Pinene (0.7-2.2%), b-Myrcene (0.6-1.8%), Neryl acetate (0.1-1.2%) NON-VOLATILE COMPOUNDS: Bergamottin (0.68-2.75%), 5-Geranyloxy-7-methoxycoumarin (0.08-0.68%), Citropten (0.01-0.35%), Bergapten (0.11-0.33%), Bergaptol (0-0.19%), 5-Methoxy-7-geranoxycoumarin (0.04-0.15%), Psoralen (0-0.0026%)

Description of Oil: delicate and refreshing, something like orange and lemon with mild floral overtones

Description of Plant: A fifteen foot tree with long green leaves and star shaped white flowers.  It produces a small pitted, pear shaped fruit.

History, Folklore and Myth: One author believes the oil to have been named after the Italian city of Bergamo in Lombardy where the oil was first sold.  Others say Coloumbus brought bergamot from the Canary Islands to Berga, in Spain before it made its way to Italy.  Used in Italian folk medicine for many years primarily for fever and worms.

Properties and Uses: analgesic, antidepressant, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, anxiollytic, carminative, deodarant, digestive, febrifuge, insecticide, nervine neuroprotective

Precautions and Contraindications: HAZARDS: Phototoxic (moderate risk); may be photocarcinogenic.

CONTRAINDICATIONS (DERMAL): If applied to the skin at over maximum use level, skin must not be exposed to sunlight or sunbed rays for 12 hours.  Maximum dermal use level 0.4%.  CAUTIONS: Old or oxidized oils should be avoided.

Other Interesting Information: Earl Grey tea is flavored with bergamot.


References: Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Virginia, Queensland, Australia: The Perfect Potion. 1995.

Lawless, Julia. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Shaftesbury, Dorset. Element Books. 1995.

Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 1995.

Sellar, Wanda. The Directory of Essential Oils. London: Random House. 2005


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