Essential Oil: Bergamot

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

Description: Bergamot is a bitter, inedible citrus fruit – often called a bergamot orange. It is from a spiny tree called the citrus bergamia, that originated in the tropical climes of South East Asia and is now grown commercially in the province of Calabria in Southern Italy (80% of the world’s bergamot comes from Calabria). The essential oil comes from the peel of the fruit. Bergamot oil does not have a typical citrus aroma. It’s a sharp top note that gives an initial citrus impact (d-limonene) before softer, sweet middle notes emerge. You’ll also detect a lemony facet, neroli-like nuances, peppery notes, and an herbaceous, lavender-like element (linalyl acetate).

The name Bergamot derives from the Turkish words “beg-armudi” which means “The Prince’s Pear” – a fittingly majestic title for what is considered the finest and most exotic of citrus notes, used in all sorts of ways from flavouring Earl Grey tea to scenting essential oils.[1]

                Essential Oil Information: In bergamot oil, you’ll find traces of bergapten, a non-volatile, phototoxic compound. Bergapten heightens the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. The bergapten is present in trace amounts, generally not seen on a formatted GC/MS report, but biologically active. A treated, non-phototoxic version of bergamot is available as a bergapten-free oil. This is the oil we generally use in Petoskey and Pine products because these products are applied to skin.

                Health Benefits: Bergamot oil works in massage oils to reduce tension and soothe painfully tight muscles, and it’s great for restless leg syndrome. Bergamot oil has antispasmodic actions, so it can be helpful in calming spastic coughing. It can also help combat respiratory infections. Bergamot oil is a powerful antispasmodic and can be effective in eliminating abdominal cramps. It is also an effective aid for digestion.[2]

                Safety Considerations: Unrectified bergamot essential oil is phototoxic.  Avoid direct sunlight or tanning beds for up to 18 hours after applying bergamot oil to the skin. Bergamot oil must not be applied to the skin undiluted. Serious skin burning or damage can occur if bergamot oil is applied and the skin is exposed to the sun or a tanning booth. Oxidation of rectified bergamot oil should be avoided by storage in a dark, airtight container in a refrigerator.

                Reproductive Toxicity: The low developmental toxicity of (+)-limonene and linalool suggests that rectified bergamot oil is not hazardous in pregnancy.[3]

                Summary: Bergamot is considered safe for most people in terms of muscle and reproductive toxicity. However, for skincare applications, we suggest only using the rectified Bergamot oil to prevent phototoxicity.


[2] Butje, A. (2017). Bergamot Data Sheet. Retrieved from Aromhead Institute:

[3] Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, (2014) Essential Oil Safety 2nd Edition, Page 213

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