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romatherapy Materia Medica

(Citrus bergamia)

© Kathi Keville, Mindy Green
 (Excerpted from Aromatherapy)

The small green fruit produced by this Mediterranean citrus tree aren't edible or pretty, but the smell they emit is wonderful! Unfortunately, you must live in a warm climate like California to grow them. First mentioned in the 17th century En la Parfumerie Fran‡oise, the fruit was named after Bergamo, Italy, where the oil originated. It is still grown in Italy, mostly in Calabria. Bergamot scents many colognes and flavors Earl Grey tea and some candies. Don't confuse this citrus with the common herb-garden bee balm (Monarda didyma), also called bergamot.

Family: Rutaceae
Extraction: Cold-pressed from almost-ripe fruit rind. Fresh, clean scent.
Medicinal Action: An anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, bergamot enhances immunity; treats genital, urinary, mouth and throat infections, flu, herpes, shingles and chicken pox; and aids digestion. It is a traditional Italian folk medicine for fever and intestinal worms.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Bergapten-free bergamot is suitable on most skin conditions and eczema, and is a deodorizer.
Emotional Attribute: Sniff bergamot to reduce depression, anxiety, insomnia or compulsive behavior cycles (including eating disorders). It balances emotions, instilling composure.
Considerations: Because it contains bergapten, bergamot is photosensitizing (i.e., may cause a reaction when skin is exposed to the sun). A bergapten-free essential oil is available.

Associated Oils:
See Lemon, Orange and Orange Blossom.

About The Author
Kathi Keville has studied herbs since 1969. Her attraction to fragrant plants led to an involvement in aromatherapy. Her other books include Herbs for Health and Healing;......more
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