Bergamot against winter depression: Sparkling with joy

Bergamot essential oil, as a Citrus oil, is a magician of the Sun. Its fragrant beauty is created by a rare and harmonious balance of diverse odor compounds resulting in an experience combining fruity-sweet notes with a lively freshness. It is a choice oil for adding happiness and enthusiasm to our life. Just breathing in a whiff of the oil makes us “jump in the air” with joy.

The sunny nature of essential oils, specifically of the Citrus oils group, is certainly one reason why people feel so much attracted to aromatherapy in the Northern countries and even more so during the long winter months. The massive use of Citrus and specifically Bergamot oils in the perfumery and food industry (i.e. Earl Grey Tea, Greek candies, cookies, etc.) and particularly in aromatherapy has certainly to do with the “happy” character of this special botanical group. Bergamot oil (and other Citrus oils) has given rise to countless formulas, many of them extremely helpful to alleviate stress, nervous exhaustion, depression and also physical ailments originating from these.

Photo-sensitive

The oil is a major compound of numerous colognes and perfumes. Due to its highly photosensitizing character stemming from its so called “furocumarin” compounds Bergamot oil must be redistilled by molecular distillation in order to obtain a furocumarin free oil (FCF) which then can be used for perfumes, colognes, and cosmetics. For aromatherapy use, the total oil including the furocumarins, is generally preferred. However, for massage and facial oils as well as for any formula implying skin contact the FCF oil is a MUST in order to avoid unwanted pigmentation of the epidermis which appears rapidly if the skin is exposed to direct sunlight.

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Bergamot fruit

Bergamot oil benefits

  • On the physical level
    • a good anti-septic and can be used as additive for wound-healing.
    • helpful in case of skin and circulatory problems (eczema, psoriasis, acne, cold sores and varicose veins).
    • an immune system booster making it an interesting complementary medicine in case of cold, flu and even herpes, malaria etc. (also to add i.e. to other immune booster essential oils such as Conifer oils, Thyme oils, Ravintsara, etc.)
    • an adjuvant for certain digestive problems due to its bitter-tonic properties similar to bitter Orange oil. As such it may be taken mixed with honey and diluted in lukewarm water.
    • increases appetite and relieves spasms of the intestinal tract.
    • used against cystitis (often together with Sandalwood oil) and for its tonic action on the uterus.
  • On the emotional and mental level Bergamot oil
    • is an effective anti-stress remedy and anti-depressant for it uplifts the spirit, harmonizes an agitated mind bringing it back to “order”, focus and inner peace.
    • has both sedating as well as tonic and revitalizing properties
    • helps against insomnia
    • is a good choice in case in case of burn-out syndrome
    • is good to use as an “ambiente” oil in a diffuser, especially during the colder winter season given its anti-bacterial properties.
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Light on a Bergamot blossoming tree

Scientific studies

Research on aromatherapy indicates that various essential oils, including Bergamot, can help to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

Inhalation of essential oils communicates signals to the olfactory system, stimulating the brain to exert neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin and dopamine) to regulate mood. Human studies have shown that aromatherapy treatment with Bergamot essential oil reduces anxiety and other symptoms of physical and psychological stress. (Source)

In one study recently published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Bergamot aromatherapy significantly reduced anxiety in patients scheduled for day surgery.

A total of 109 patients were randomly assigned to 30 minutes of Bergamot essential oil aromatherapy using an ultrasonic aroma diffuser or placebo therapy (water vapor). All those exposed to Bergamot essential oil aromatherapy showed a greater reduction in pre-operative anxiety than those in the control group. Compared to baseline, those undergoing the Bergamot essential oil aromatherapy exhibited significant decreases in anxiety scores, heart rate, and blood pressure, whereas no changes were observed in those in the placebo group. (Source)

A Sun-battery for life

Bergamot oil and all essential oils in general are an expression of the inherent magic of Mother Nature to create “Sun-batteries” for life. They are the result of a special cosmic interaction of plants with Light. The “biochemistry of light” plays a major role in the Citrus group where the essential oils are stored mainly on the outer sphere – the rind – of the fruits which are directly touched by the light of the Sun – and this, very exceptional in Nature, until mid-Winter! The fact that Citrus fruits are usually harvested not before end of January makes it possible that Bergamot can absorb different qualities of Sun light from summer throughout autumn until winter. The oil reflects this amazing “photonic” richness of radiation in its very special energy build-up.

Sun light simply underlies the totality of plant life creating the basis for the miracle of photosynthesis. Thanks to their chlorophyll plants act like photonic power blocks capturing the energy of the Sun and transforming his light into biochemical energy. With this the plants – from the atomic and particle level – are able to transform an-organic molecules into organic ones which then form the basic building blocks of life. It is from here that the plant, according to its specific genetic code, will create its “hardware” such as glucose, oils, waxes, fibres etc. Glucose will be transformed into essential oils stored in specific glands. Apart from the allelopathic and germ-protective character of essential oils they may also serve as energy reservoirs. It often happens that plants will take recourse to their photonic energy stored in essential oils if they lack Sun light – for example caused by sudden climatic changes, extended rain falls etc. All this incredible alchemy of the plant: nothing but materialized Sun energy for helping precious life processes to expand in the Universe. (See also our blog The Miracle of Fragrant Light to deeper in that topic)

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Enhancing the inner light

Bergamot’s character is warming and softening. It strengthens the inner fire of the heart and creates waves of joy by means of its powerful anti-depressive character. In terms of Anthroposophic understanding (Dr. Rudolf Steiner), but also Ayurvedic principles, the thermic energies of the cosmos (mainly Sun light, but also Moon light and Star light) first act upon the “thermic organism” in human physiology and find their spiritual counterpart in the higher Self or “Atma”, the inner Light or our inner “bliss center” which radiates from deep within our being.

Rudolf Steiner and his disciples also have often spoken of the intrinsic property of the Citrus fruits and their oils to organize life by means of their capacity to bring order to the entropic tendencies in Nature – always present in its game of polarities. Rudolf Steiner has specifically associated the Citrus family (Rutaceae) with the sub-tropical character of the Sun with its specific radiation and its uplifting, envigorating quality.

It may be interesting to note that one of the major compounds of the Citrus oil group, namely limonene, has given rise to a number of interesting research studies in the context of cancer therapy.

To say it again: all essential oils are the direct result of a strong harmonizing or balancing energy process which mainly stems from the cosmic (mainly solar) influence onto the plant and which transmits itself onto us via multiple levels when we use these oils for our own approaches of health and well-being.

Bergamot oil: a marvelous jewel in the crest of aromatherapy – a fragrant gift from the heart of the SUN.

Dr. Malte Hozzel

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