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Aromatherapy's Core Antidepressant: Sweet-Tart Bergamot

Sep 16, 2008
Bergamot oil is a staple essential oil in therapeutic aromatherapy, being particularly suited to stress-related illness. Its bright, sweet (but not too sweet) aroma is universally loved. Its an oil from the citrus family, along with orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime, with similarly effective mood lifting properties. Bergamot is a cold-pressed oil, a method of extraction that imparts a fresh, tangy scent. Bergamot is actually a tree that produces what appear to be small oranges; the oil is yellow to light-green, the color of the slightly unripe fruit from which it comes. The essential oil is truly versatile, with many practical applications; here's a quick look at how you can use this oil in your natural health and wellness program.

Originating in tropical Asia, the Bergamot tree is now widely grown in Italy, as well as the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Morocco, and Corsica. Bergamot is named after the Italian city of Bergamo in Lombardy, where the essential oil was first sold for perfumery. The fruit is not edible as the pulp is too sour, resulting in the Bergamot tree being primarily cultivated for its essential oils. It is one of the most popular essential oils used in perfumery - approximately one third of men's colognes contain Bergamot, and nearly one half of women's perfumes. Bergamot imparts the characteristic flavor to Earl Grey tea, and is used as a flavoring agent in pastries, root-beer, chewing gum, and toothpastes.

Fresh Bergamot essential oil has nearly 300 compounds: mainly linalyl acetate (30-60 %), linaool (11-22%) and other alcohols, sequiterpenes, terpenes, alkalines, and furocoumarins (including bergapten 0.30-0.39%). Certain furocourmarins, notably bergapten, have been found to be photosensitizing (causing an increased sensitivity to ultraviolet rays), hence Bergamot should not be heavily used on skin that will be significantly exposed to sunlight in the following 72 hours. A 'bergapten-free' partially-refined variety is available, and is an excellent choice for massage and skin care formulas.

Bergamot is an excellent antiseptic for use in cases of acne, oily skin, and infected skin. As a natural toner and detoxifier, Bergamot may help to prevent premature aging of the dermis. Bergamot oil is noted to have a slightly irritating effect on the skin in high concentrations, but the opposite healing effects occur when the oil is used at low concentrations (1% or less in carrier oil). Bergamot's general deodorizing effects derive from its antiseptic properties, which are also effective against bladder and urinary infections. Adding 3- 4 drops of Bergamot to warm water bath can help bring relief to the early stages of urinary tract infections.

Bergamot essential oil is foremost a miraculous neuro-tonic, and a powerful helper against depression caused by fatigue or unreleased tensions and frustrations. Aromatherapy massage - using a massage oil with a low concentration of essential oil and any healing massage technique - is exceptionally effective for any stress induced disease.As noted by author and aromatherapist Gabriel Mojay, "Bergamot oil's psychological action depends on its ability to disperse stagnant Chi (life-force energy). This condition can manifest as tension, irritability, and frustration, and if never released or processed, can eventually lead to depression...Bergamot helps us to relax and let go." Depression due to the stagnation of life-force energy is often the result of accumulated stress and repressed emotions of grief, frustration or anger. A protective oil by nature, Bergamot is indicated whenever the flow of natural energy is disrupted, leading to imbalanced states such as irritability, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Bergamot encourages the release of repressed and inhibited feelings, thus helping to release and decompress. The impressively bright aroma belies its calming, centering, and clarifying nature; it is able to bring cheer and sooth simultaneously.

Bergamot is further indicated where anxiety and stress related symptoms present as a loss or change in appetite. Bergamot's antidepressant properties and its regulatory effect on appetite offer assistance when used in cases of eating imbalances such as anorexia, emotional eating, and bulimia. A natural carminative, digestive aid and antispasmodic make Bergamot effective in instances of colic as well as helping to reduce gas in the intestines. Bergamot may be used by itself, or in a recipe with other digestive supporting oils like Roman Chamomile, Coriander Seed and Sweet Fennel; an excellent technique is to gently massage a low-dilution formula into the abdomen.

That Bergamot essential oil has found its way into our lives in forms that we inhale, splash on ourselves, and even eat is no mistake. Humans have certainly developed a fondness for its brilliant touch to the olfactory and gustatory senses. Its greatest potential may be as a 'broad-spectrum' natural antidepressant; the yellow-green color of the oil hints to its affinity to the heart and solar plexus chakras, where many of us are challenged to remain open in our daily routines. It is the opening of the heart and a fluid allowing of the emotions that lies at the center of our healing journeys. Using Bergamot through all primary aromatherapy techniques can assist in this process, opening us to freedom and joys in our everyday lives.

Here are a few formulas employing the dramatic antidepressant and emotional-releasing properties using some of these companion oils: To release aggravation and pressure - 2 parts Roman Chamomile, 2 parts Bergamot and 2 parts Sweet Orange. To overcome nervousness and agitation - 3 parts Lavender, 2 parts Neroli and 1 part Bergamot. When frustrated and negative - 3 parts Bergamot, 2 parts Sweet Orange and 1 part Neroli. To enhance relaxation and self-confidence - 2 parts Lavender and 1 part Bergamot. These blends may be used in a diffuser, or diluted to 3% total concentration in one or more carrier oils for a wonderful aromatherapy massage. "Look in the perfume of flowers and of nature for peace of mind and joy in life" says Wang Wei, summing up Bergamot's wonderful, multifaceted effects.
About the Author
The author has made available much information about aromatherapy, such as using Helichrysum and other pure and natural essential oils.
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