Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Ba gan meng (Chinese), bei jia mao cheng (Chinese), bei jia mi gan (Chinese), bergamot fruit, bergamot orange, bergamota (Portuguese), bergamotier (French), bergamotorange (Danish), bergamotoranje (Dutch), bergamotta (Italian), Bergamotte (German), Bergamottenbaum (German), bergamottenzitrone (German), bergamotti (Finnish), bergamottier (French), bergamottihedelmae (Finnish), bergamottin, bergamotto (Italian), bergapten (5-methoxypsoralen), berugamotto (Japanese), bey armudu (Turkish), C-glucosides, chrysoeriol (7-O-neohesperidoside), chrysoeriol (7-O-neohesperidoside-4'-O-glucoside), citroník bergamot (Czech), citropten, Citrus aurantium L. ssp. Bergamia, Citrus aurantium L. subsp. bergamia (Risso & Poit.) Wight & Arn. ex Engl., Citrus aurantium L. var. bergamia Loisel., Citrus bergamia, Citrus bergamia Risso, coumarins, eriodictyol, flavonoids, fragrant balm, hesperetin, isovitexin, laymûn adâlyâ barnatî (Arabic), limettier bergamotte (French), lucenin-2, monosaccharides, monoterpene hydrocarbons, naringenin, naringin, neoeriocitrin, neohesperidin, O-glycosides, oligosaccharides, oranger bergamotte (French), orientin 4'-methyl ether, polymethoxylated flavones, poirier bergamotte (French), psoralen, psoralens, rhoifolin (4'-O-glucoside), Rutaceae (family), scoparin and orientin (4'-methyl ether), stellarin-2, Strauchorange (German), xiang ning meng (Chinese).
Note: This monograph does not cover the North American plant bee balm, which is part of the family Lamiaceae, genus Monarda. Sometimes Monarda species are called bergamot.
Bergamot orange trees, indigenous to Calabria, Italy, are part of the Rutaceae family and Citrus genus. The peel of the pear-shaped fruit contains essential oils and other bioactive constituents. Bergamot juice is used for nutritional purposes. The bergamot orange is unrelated to North American herbs also known as bergamot, which belong to the genus Monarda (bee balm or Oswego tea). This monograph exclusively encompasses bergamot orange.
The essential oil of bergamot contains the constituents that produce the pleasing odor that made it popular in cosmetics in the past and in aromatherapy today. Because bergamot may cause an adverse reaction to sunlight or ultraviolet light, its usefulness in substances that are applied to the skin is limited. However, research continues on its potential beneficial effects for the skin. Promising research is continuing on the antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties of constituents in bergamot essential oil.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Studies using blends of essential oils, including bergamot oil, have not reported positive effects for anxiety. However, additional study using bergamot oil alone is needed before a conclusion can be made.
High blood pressure
Aromatherapy involving bergamot oil plus lavender and ylang ylang oils has been studied for high blood pressure. Although the blended oils provided positive results, the effects of bergamot alone is unclear. Additional research is needed.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), antibacterial/antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, general health maintenance (prebiotic activity), gum disease, hair loss, Huntington's chorea/disease, immunosuppression, malaria, neurologic disorders, neuroprotection, psoriasis, schizophrenia, skin aging, skin conditions, skin damage caused by the sun, vitiligo (loss of skin pigment).
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for bergamot in adults.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for bergamot in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with known allergy/hypersensitivity to bergamot, its constituents, or plants in the Rutaceae family.
When applied to the skin, bergamot may cause sensitivity to sunlight or ultraviolet light.
Side Effects and Warnings
Essential oils of bergamot, including bergamottin, have been studied in humans and may be toxic if taken by mouth. Vapors released during aromatherapy may irritate the eyes.
Applying bergamot to the skin may cause redness (erythema), changes in skin coloration, and sensitivity to sunlight or ultraviolet light. Use cautiously with other products that cause sensitivity to light.
Use cautiously in individuals using agents that are broken down by the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system.
Excessive consumption of bergamot-containing earl grey tea was linked to muscle cramps, involuntary muscle contractions, abnormal sensations, and blurred vision.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Bergamot is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Bergamot may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs that use the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potential serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package inserts, and speak with their qualified healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, about possible interactions.
Bergamot may enhance the immune system. Use cautiously with drugs that may affect the immune system.
Bergamot may also interact with antibiotics, antifungals, anti-inflammatory drugs, cardiovascular drugs, or photosensitizing agents.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Bergamot may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements that use the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these agents may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potentials serious adverse reactions. Patients using any herbs or supplements should check the package inserts, and speak with their qualified healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, about possible interactions.
Bergamot may enhance the immune system. Use cautiously with herbs or supplements that may affect the immune system.
Bergamot may also interact with antibacterials, antifungals, anti-inflammatory herbs or supplements, cardiovascular herbs and supplements, antioxidants, prebiotics, or photosensitizing herbs or supplements.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Bailey, D. G., Malcolm, J., Arnold, O., et al. Grapefruit juice-drug interactions. 1998. Br.J.Clin.Pharmacol. 2004;58(7):S831-S840. View Abstract
Dijoux, N., Guingand, Y., Bourgeois, C., et al. Assessment of the phototoxic hazard of some essential oils using modified 3T3 neutral red uptake assay. Toxicol.In Vitro 2006;20(4):480-489. View Abstract
Dugo, P., Presti, M. L., Ohman, M., et al. Determination of flavonoids in citrus juices by micro-HPLC-ESI/MS. J.Sep.Sci. 2005;28(11):1149-1156. View Abstract
Finsterer, J. Earl Grey tea intoxication. Lancet 4-27-2002;359(9316):1484. View Abstract
Fisher, K. and Phillips, C. A. The effect of lemon, orange and bergamot essential oils and their components on the survival of Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus in vitro and in food systems. J Appl Microbiol 2006;101(6):1232-1240. View Abstract
Graham, P. H., Browne, L., Cox, H., et al. Inhalation aromatherapy during radiotherapy: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial. J.Clin.Oncol. 6-15-2003;21(12):2372-2376. View Abstract
Gruson, L. M. and Chang, M. W. Berloque dermatitis mimicking child abuse. Arch.Pediatr.Adolesc.Med. 2002;156(11):1091-1093. View Abstract
Hwang, J. H. [The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension]. Taehan Kanho.Hakhoe.Chi 2006;36(7):1123-1134. View Abstract
Kaddu, S., Kerl, H., and Wolf, P. Accidental bullous phototoxic reactions to bergamot aromatherapy oil. J.Am.Acad.Dermatol. 2001;45(3):458-461. View Abstract
Kiani, J. and Imam, S. Z. Medicinal importance of grapefruit juice and its interaction with various drugs. Nutr.J. 2007;6:33. View Abstract
Luchini, A. C., Rodrigues-Orsi, P., Cestari, S. H., Seito, L. N., Witaicenis, A., Pellizzon, C. H., and Di Stasi, L. C. Intestinal anti-inflammatory activity of coumarin and 4-hydroxycoumarin in the trinitrobenzenesulphonic acid model of rat colitis. Biol.Pharm.Bull. 2008;31(7):1343-1350. View Abstract
Placzek, M., Fromel, W., Eberlein, B., et al. Evaluation of phototoxic properties of fragrances. Acta Derm.Venereol. 2007;87(4):312-316. View Abstract
Sanguinetti, M., Posteraro, B., Romano, L., et al. In vitro activity of Citrus bergamia (bergamot) oil against clinical isolates of dermatophytes. J.Antimicrob.Chemother. 2007;59(2):305-308. View Abstract
Statti, G. A., Conforti, F., Sacchetti, G., et al. Chemical and biological diversity of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) in relation to environmental factors. Fitoterapia 2004;75(2):212-216. View Abstract
Wiebe, E. A randomized trial of aromatherapy to reduce anxiety before abortion. Eff Clin Pract 2000;3(4):166-169. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017