Using bergamot essential oil via aromatherapy or topically may help improve your mood, hair health, and skin.
Ready to add bergamot essential oil to add to your cabinet? (We promise we’re not trying to recruit you to another pyramid scheme.)
Bergamot oil is extracted from the rinds of fruit on bergamot orange trees (aka Citrus bergamia). If you like to sip on Earl grey tea, you’ve already enjoyed bergamot oil in a similar form.
But it’s also a sweet, zesty fave in the essential oil world with a bunch of health benefits thanks to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and pain-relieving properties.
Before you fire up your diffuser, let’s break down the benefits of using bergamot essential oil.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
1. May improve mental health
Breathe in bergamot, breathe out the blues? Maybe.
In a small 2017 study, participants who inhaled bergamot essential oil in a mental health center waiting room reported increased positive feelings. That said, researchers pointed out that the study’s teeny sample size and limitations don’t prove these findings.
In another small 2015 study of 41 women in Japan, researchers concluded that inhaling bergamot reduced feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
A 2013 review echoed this finding, with scientists concluding that bergamot and other essential oils may be able to relieve depression, anxiety, and mood disorders by signaling the brain to release feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
A 2019 review also concluded that bergamot inhalation may reduce stress compared to rest alone — but not compared to placebo aromatherapy.
So, we need more research to know if bergamot can banish your bad mood for sure.
2. Could fight food poisoning
Feeling like vomming after that takeout? You might wanna breathe in some bergamot.
Linalool is a compound found in bergamot that may help destroy certain types of bacteria that cause food-borne illness. (Fun fact: It’s also used to add a floral scent to lots of your fave beauty and skin care products.)
In a 2016 study, researchers found that bergamot had “weak to strong effects” at halting the growth of diff bacteria samples that cause one common type of food poisoning.
A 2006 study, meanwhile, found that bergamot may be most effective at destroying specific strains of bacterium including Staph, Listeria, and E. coli.
We might need more research before you can start sniffing the bergamot to stop your sushi stomach, but it might be worth a try.
3. Lowers cholesterol
Bergamot could also be a blessing for your heart health.
A 2016 review of several studies found that the flavonoids in bergamot can help reduce lipid levels in the bod, though researchers aren’t exactly sure why.
A 2018 study on animals echoed this finding. Researchers found bergamot may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the liver (but this was only for rats who had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease). We need more people studies to know for sure.
4. Reduces pain and inflammation
Linalool and carvacrol — compounds found in bergamot oil — appear to help diminish pain and inflammation. In a 2017 review of several studies, researchers found that both compounds had anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, and pain-relieving effects when inhaled and applied directly to the skin.
Similarly, a 2019 review confirmed that bergamot appears to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and aid in wound healing.
Researchers did point out that there could be potentially toxic effects of essential oils we don’t know about yet, so stay tuned before you start inhaling them round-the-clock.
5. Hair health
Maybe they’re born with it — maybe it’s bergamot.
According to a 2019 review, bergamot essential oil promoted hair growth in animal studies. Though your hair is def different than a rat’s, it could be worth a try.
The oil’s anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties may also help soothe an itchy or irritated scalp. (Just don’t apply it without a carrier oil — more on that later.)
Those who use it as a regular part of their hair care routine swear it softens hair and tames frizz and curls. Plus, it’ll make your hair smell like you rolled in a field of citrusy wildflowers. 🌼
6. Skin health
According to a 2019 review, bergamot essential oil increases skin collagen content and decreases psoriasis plaques in animals. Just note we don’t have enough research on humans to know for sure what the deal is.
Still, it might be worth adding a little bergamot to your skin care routine. Since many compounds in bergamot oil also have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it might work as a spot treatment for acne or cysts, especially since it’s thought to also aid in wound healing.
If you have psoriasis, sensitive skin, or another skin condition, though, check with your derm first.
Ready to breathe in bergamot? Try using it for aromatherapy in the following ways:
- Diffuse. Fill your essential oil diffuser with purified water and add a few drops of bergamot oil. Always use a diffuser in a well-ventilated area, away from pets.
- Massage oil. Mix roughly 15–20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil (like avocado, almond, or jojoba). Use as a soothing and sweet-smelling body oil, perf for massages.
- Skin care. Add 2–5 drops of the essential oil to your body wash, shampoo, or facial scrub for a refreshing pick-me-up.
- DIY candles or air fresheners. Don’t have an essential oil diffuser? You can also add it to add some sweet floral aroma to homemade candles or air fresheners.
- Clothing. Dab some on a bandana, scarf, or eye pillow (not the side that rests on your eyes) for a little relaxation while you’re on the go or at rest.
Pro tip: If you want to mix up a nice combo, bergamot pairs especially sweetly with lavender, tea tree oil, or chamomile.
New zit, who dis? Whether you have a new spot or just want to keep your skin smooth and toned, bergamot might help. Here’s what to do:
- Carrier oil mixture. Mix bergamot with a carrier oil (like almond, jojoba, or grapeseed) and apply directly to acne, cysts, or blackheads. Leave on overnight and cross your fingers — it just might work.
- Water or skin care mixture. Mix a few drops with water or your fave cleanser to help ease any redness or inflammation.
Since bergamot can increase skin sensitivity, you’ll want to avoid using the oil on your skin during the day. Like other citrus oils, it can make skin super-sensitive to the sun.
Bergamot just might make for hair commercial-caliber smoothness. Here’s how to try it:
- Shampoo. Add a few drops to your usual shampoo or conditioner. (Or both!)
- Hair oil. Lots of people swear by hair oiling so why not try it with some potentially hair-growth boosting bergamot? Mix 1–2 drops with a tablespoon of hair healthy carrier oil like coconut oil, argan, or avocado and use it as an overnight treatment.
Bergamot can sometimes be irritating to the skin, especially if yours tends to be sensitive. Any essential oil, including bergamot, can also cause allergic dermatitis — aka an allergic rash.
Symptoms can include:
If you notice any of these effects after applying bergamot, wash it off ASAP and stop using it. Visit your doc if symptoms don’t dissipate within 24 hours.
Safety tips to keep in mind
- Do a patch test. To avoid probs in the first place, always mix it with a carrier oil when applying to the skin and do a patch test first! Rub a few drops diluted with a carrier oil into your forearm. If you don’t have a reaction within 24 hours, it’s prob safe to apply elsewhere.
- Stay out of the sun. The bergamot oil has a phototoxic effect — essentially meaning the skin becomes damaged or irritated when exposed to sunlight. So, always skip it before you head outside.
- Keep away from kids, pets, or pregnant peeps. The effects of essential oils on these groups aren’t fully understood, so spare Fido or skip it if you’re expecting. There’s also some research to suggest bergamot could be potentially toxic during pregnancy.
- Avoid when taking certain meds. Even though bergamot should never be ingested directly, it still may cause negative interactions with certain meds when inhaled. For that reason, always talk with your doc before adding it to your routine.
Limited research suggests that bergamot essential oil *might* be effective for improving mental health, reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, and fending off food poisoning.
Since it can cause skin irritation in some people, always do a patch test before trying. It also causes photosensitivity, so shouldn’t be used before you soak up some sun.
Its zesty, citrusy-floral scent makes it an ideal addition to your aromatherapy or skin care routine. Just make sure you dilute it with a carrier oil before applying directly to the skin.