Bergamot the 411

canstockphoto17204434 bergamot

 

Recently my aromatherapist friend was telling me that there is a significant controversy surrounding the use of bergamot.  Since bergamot is one of my favourite herbs for both tea (Earl Grey) and baths (kind of like soaking in a tub of tea) I thought I would look into it. 

What is Bergamot and What do I Use it for

Bergamot or Citrus bergamia risso is thought to be a cross between a sour orange and lemon.  It is incredibly acidic to eat but can be used in recipes.  See David Lebovitz’s website for some interesting info on the difference between bergamots and sweet lemons as well as his vinaigrette recipe. 

The skin of the bergamot is used for it’s essential oil.  This oil is used for perfumes, to make Earl Grey tea and for use in medicines. 

Sun Sensitivity

The controversy about bergamot is actually about it’s photosensitivity or sun sensitivity actions.  What this means is that if you are using bergamot topically you need to avoid exposure to sunlight.   Sun sensitivity causes itch, pain, rash or other skin conditions.  See the Merck Manual site for more info. 

According to WebMD Bergamot is used to treat 

  • Anxiety during radiation
  • Tumours
  • Lice
  • Psoriasis

They have insufficient evidence for these uses and caution regarding photosensitivity. 

Other sites include actions such as 

  • Antibiotic
  • Analgesic
  • Antiseptic
  • Antidepressant
  • Insomnia

The Alpha pinene and Limonene in bergamot oil are thought to be the reason for it’s antidepressant effects.  They improve circulation and stimulate hormonal secretions,  They are thought to be uplifting.  

The analgesic effects are thought to come from the secretion of hormones which lessen nerve pain sensitivity.  

The insomnia action is thought to come from the flavonoids.  

The antiseptic actions of bergamot make sense since lemon oil is an excellent antibacterial. 

Side Effects

According to drugs.com muscle cramping, twitching and blurred vision were experienced by a man consuming a gallon of earl grey tea per day.  It is contraindicated in pregnancy and lactation.

Sun sensitivity can occur particularly if bergamot is used when taking sun sensitive pharmaceuticals.   

I love both the smell and flavour of bergamot oil.  I don’t recommend taking it internally except in earl grey or other blended teas since overdose is easy and can cause digestive issues.

canstockphoto16033424bergamot flower

 

How can you not love something that’s flowers look like a Fiesta!

A couple of years ago while catering a party I discovered a recipe for Earl Grey Truffles I don’t remember which site but here is the epicurious link for their version.  Caution these are addictive! 

THIS BLOG IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE THE ADVICE OF YOUR DOCTOR.