Oil of bergamot is obtained from a plant that is a native species of some Asian and Eastern countries. The oil was first used and traded in Italy and derives its name from the northern city of Bergamo. In Italian medicine, it was popular as a remedy for feverish illnesses and to expel intestinal worms. It has also been used in cosmetics and perfumes, as the flavouring of Earl Grey tea, and in other foods. Recent research carried out in Italy indicates a wide variety of therapeutic applications for bergamot, including urinary tract and respiratory infections.
Its strong antiseptic effect makes it a good choice for the treatment of skin, throat and mouth infections.
In particular, scalp and skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne and ulcers will often respond to treatment with bergamot, especially where stress and depression may have played a part in lowering resistance to infection. When combined with eucalyptus, its soothing effect will afford relief to sufferers of cold sores and shingles. Insomnia, anxiety and depression can be alleviated by the uplifting and refreshing nature of this oil. It also has a natural deodorizing effect and can be used both as a breath freshener and as a personal deodorant.
Bergamot can irritate the skin if used in concentrations in excess of one percent. It is phototoxic and should not be used in home-made suntan oil.