Bergamot is a plant that produces a type of citrus fruit. Oil taken from the peel of the fruit is used in traditional medicines, cosmetics and aromatherapy products.
Bergamot oil also gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive perfumed aroma and flavour and is used to flavour other food products. Bergamot oil is also used in perfumes, creams, lotions and soaps.
In parts of Europe, bergamot oil has been used as a traditional antiseptic and wound treatment.
Bergamot oil is sometimes inhaled during aromatherapy to relieve symptoms of mild stress, including during cancer treatment. The European Medicines Agency looked at these uses but didn’t find sufficient evidence to substantiate them.
Aromatherapy is complementary therapy, not intended to replace medical care. The regulator, the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), says aromatherapy may be helpful for those wanting to reduce everyday stress, relax and sleep better. It is carried out by trained aromatherapists in a variety of places, including hospitals and hospices.
Bergamot oil has several active chemicals. These chemicals can make the skin sensitive to sunlight.
Bergamot oil contains the substance 5-methoxypsoralen, also called 5-MOP, which was once used in sun tanning products.
Some people treat the skin condition psoriasis by applying bergamot oil directly to the skin and then shining long-wave ultraviolet (UV) light on the affected area. Some research suggests this method, called UVB + bergamot oil (UVBB), significantly reduces the UVB doses and the duration of treatment for psoriasis patients.
Bergamot oil safety
Medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight, called photosensitising drugs, can interact with bergamot oil. Check with your GP or pharmacist of you have concerns.