Bergamot: essential oil profile

If you like to drink Earl Grey tea, then you are already familiar with the beautiful scent of bergamot.

Some people have described the smell of bergamot as a combination of lemon, orange, lime and lavender.

Bergamot essential oil – Citrus bergamia – comes from the peels of a citrus fruit. The bergamot tree can grow to a height of about 4.5 meters and bears non-edible green to yellow fruit (Schiller, 2008).

The tree was first discovered growing in Italy, and the essence was initially sold in the Italian city of Bergamo (Schiller, 2008).

Jane Grayson in her book Aromatherapy for the Seasons states that bergamot is infused with the light and sun of Italy (Grayson,1993). Its’ uplifting scent makes it the perfect oil to diffuse as a room fragrance – especially as the days grow shorter in our northern Canadian climate.

Psychological Benefits

Bergamot is a valuable uplifting oil that is “sharpening rather than stimulating, leaving one feeling very present” (Grayson, 1993). Bergamot is a natural balancer – the lovely, lighthearted scent can ease anxiety, nervous tension, and stress. It is rich in the chemical components linalyl acetate and linalool which is why the essential oil is so calming, cheering, and uplifting.

Bergamot’s ability to relieve anxiety has been well documented by the Italian researcher Paolo Rovesti who conducted research at the University of Milan on the psychological effects of essential oils. For the treatment of anxiety, Rovesti suggested using bergamot essential oil (as well as cypress, petitgrain, lime, rose, violet and marjoram essential oils). He had great success with treating patients with anxiety and was honored for his work (Jones, 2010).

Skin Care

The antiseptic properties of bergamot make it a useful choice for treating oily skin and acne when blended with a suitable carrier oil/wax like jojoba oil.

Care, however, must be taken when using bergamot on the skin. The presence of the chemical component bergaptene means that the essential oil is photo-toxic. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight for several hours after applying the oil on the skin (Schiller, 2008). To learn more, see Citrus Oils & the Sun.

Home Aromatherapy

If you’d like to use this essential oil at home, I suggest diffusing it first on its own.

Then you might want to try blending it with one or two other essential oils. Bergamot blends well with lavender, geranium and cypress essential oils – amongst others.

Here is a simple recipe for you to try at home with a diffuser:

  • 4 drops of Lavandula angustifolia (lavender)
  • 4 drops of Citrus bergamia (bergamot)


Grayson, J. (1993). The Fragrant Year. San Francisco: Harper Collins.

Jones, E.A. (2010). Awaken to Healing Fragrance: The Power of Essential Oil Therapy. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Schiller, C. & Schiller, D. (2008). The Aromatherapy Encyclopedia. Laguna Beach: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

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