Get to know the lesser-known citrus essential oil with major health cred


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Photo: Stocksy/Katarina Radovic

It’s hard to play favorites in the vast world of essential oils. If you’re an herb fanatic, picking your top essential oils is like choosing your fave child. Alas, despite all herb extracts having numerous benefits and signature scents, ya can’t help but gravitate towards a certain few. Personally, I’m a major fan of citrus and bergamot essential oil uses abound. Whenever I catch a whiff of that sweet, spicy citrus aroma, I experience all of the feels—and for good reason.

“Bergamot is a pear-shaped fruit and comes from the same family as orange in the Rutaceae family,” says Linnette Carrierre, Saje product trainer and educator. “The citrus bergamia tree stands as tall as 12 meters and is covered in long, green leaves and white flowers when it blossoms. The essential oil is captured from the rind of the greenish-orange colored fruit through machine abrasion. The rind is pressed and the oil released and then bottled.”

So the magic stems from the fruit of a tree—but it’s not the type that you can also nosh down on. “Although the fruit of the bergamot is too bitter to eat, its essential oil is very popular among tea drinkers who enjoy Earl Grey tea,” says Carrierre. This is because the famous tea leaves feature bergamot, which gives it a fruity yet floral aromatic profile.

If you decide to incorporate this essential oil into your diffuser or essential oil routine, it’s important to take note of a few things. “Please use cautions with bergamot applied on skin and sun exposure,” says Carrierre. “Due to the presence of a component of this oil called bergapten or Fuocoumarin (FCF), you shouldn’t apply it to your skin and go into the sun due to phototoxicity.” If you do so, your skin can get burned and discolored, according to Amy Galper, a board-certified aromatherapist and co-founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies.

To avoid this, use the common practice of diluting the essential oil with a carrier oil (like jojoba) before applying it onto the skin. “The maximum dermal use is 0.4 percent to avoid phototoxicity,” says Carrierre. Ready to go for it? Here are six superstars uses.

Six uses for bergamot essential oil

1. Achieve pure chill: Like most other citrus extracts, bergamot is known for being uplifting. “Bergamot is one of the best oils to support the central nervous system,” says Carrierre. “It’s known to be calming to the spirit.” Galper adds that it promotes a positive outlook, soothes anxiety, and eases over-thinking (yes, please). To calm down, Carrierre recommends breathing it in via an ultrasonic diffuser, adding a few drops onto a tissue and inhaling deeply as needed, or sniffing the scent through your personal aromatherapy jewelry.

2. Boost your mood: Citrus scents, like bergamot, can also put a pep in your step. “Its smell offers a sunny disposition,” says Carrierre. “It lightens a heavy heart, lifts stagnation, and encourages confidence.” For that mood boost, sprinkle some into your diffuser. Also beneficial? “Add one to two drops of bergamot to a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut, warm and emulsify in your hands, and inhale deeply through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth one to three times,” recommends Carrierre.

3. Ease digestive discomfort: One of the most surprising perks of certain essential oils is that they can calm an angry gut. “Bergamot can ease digestive discomfort,” says Carrierre. “It’s known to have the power of soothing an upset stomach.” If you’re dealing with digestive woes, simply add 1 to 3 drops of bergamot to a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut and massage onto your stomach in a clockwise motion, “as this is the natural direction of digestion,” says Carrierre. Or ya know, try sipping an earl grey tea which has been used to help calm upset stomachs for many years.

4. Aids the immune system: “Bergamot is a great support to bolster your immunity,” says Galper of the multifunctional essential oil. “I personally have used this oil on the shingles virus and accelerated my recovery to one week,” says Carrierre. To reap this benefit, she recommends applying it topically. “Massage it onto the skin like you would a body lotion or massage oil,” she says. “I’d also recommend diffusing it to continue to promote good health.”

5. Clear your respiratory system: Herbs and products with an uber-invigorating scent tend to open up your chest, à la Vick’s VapoRub. While you probably tend to think of plants such as eucalyptus having this perk, bergamot has that prowess as well. “Bergamot can work to clear up your respiratory system,” says Galper. You can feel the difference in your breath if you drop some into a diffuser, or rub onto your chest via a chest salve or body oil (always use a carrier oil), she recommends.

6. Cleanse the skin: “Bergamot is a natural antibacterial and antiseptic,” says Galper, who notes that you can use it as a way to clean your hands (you know, in lieu of an alcohol-rich hand sanitizer). Just drop some into a hand cleansing gel and enjoy the extra perk of making your hands smell good.

To explore more extracts, here are lavender essential oil uses, and how to use rosehip seed oil

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