ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE CABINET
Bergamot is a highly fragrant citrus commonly found in southern Italy and tropical parts of Asia. Because it looks like an orange on the outside and resembles a lemon on the inside, some call it a “sweet lemon.” The fruit peel is used to create a highly concentrated oil—which is commonly found in Earl Grey tea. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Bergamot is used to soothe indigestion and gas. It is also used in many perfumes and lotions for its sweet scent and antibacterial properties. BERGAMOT OIL Bergamot oil, an extract from the fruit, has many health benefits. Its compounds are a natural antidepressant and stimulant. They also trigger hormone production to aid digestion, nutrient absorption, and sugar processing. In addition, the oil has a natural ability to inhibit the growth of germs, viruses, and fungi. It is highly effective in combating intestinal worms, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and skin problems. The oil can even be used on chapped lips and cold sores. It is also effective in preventing parasites and suggested to be a natural insect repellent.
Bergamot is commonly used in aromatherapy to help relax and clear the mind while providing energy. It blends well with other essential oils, and its aroma is fresh, citrusy, and slightly floral. Bergamot oil can be used in an aroma lamp or in massage oils. It can be added to a warm bath, which will release its vapors and aid many skin conditions. Further, vaporizing Bergamot can be used to treat colds, flus, and congestion.
Often used in TCM, it relieves helplessness, hopelessness, emptiness, and grief. Every part of the plant—from the fruit to the root—is used to help balance the body. Bergamot is also commonly used for liver depression and qi stagnation, as well as spleen and qi stagnation. Returning the body to a state of harmony and assisting with the flow of energy are among its main focuses in TCM.
BERGAMOT SUPPLEMENTS Recent studies have shown Bergamot juice is highly effective in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—bad—cholesterol at the source by helping to block the production of cholesterol in the liver. Brutieridin and meltidin are the two antioxidant compounds found in Bergamot that help provide this effect. Unlike statin drugs, these polyphenols do not decrease the body's production of CoQ10. The compounds in Bergamot also help block the production of the many enzymes that initially cause the increased LDL cholesterol. As Julian Whitaker, MD, suggests, Bergamot extract also has been shown to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—good—cholesterol, which helps the liver remove LDL cholesterol from the body.
Additionally, Bergamot is effective in promoting healthy arteries. According to medical researcher and author Chris Kilham, Bergamot extract has demonstrated anti-hyperlipidemia activity. This means the extract reduces excess lipids in the blood, helps to prevent hardening of the arteries, and decreases fatty deposits in the liver. These benefits are important in overall cardiovascular health. Further, the polyphenols in Bergamot suppress inflammation, inhibit plaque formation, and improve arterial responsiveness—all crucial for health.
Another important health benefit is Bergamot's ability to lower blood glucose levels. This is particularly necessary for people at risk of diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Bergamot is a powerful antioxidant that activates the proteins responsible for breaking down fatty acids and glucose in the body. This helps not only with regulating blood sugar levels, but also with weight management.
A word of caution: When using Bergamot oil or a lotion containing Bergamot, avoid sunlight, which causes irritation. Always store Bergamotcontaining products in a dark place to avoid decomposition of its compounds—and note that Bergamot can actually become toxic if exposed to enough sunlight. Further, although Bergamot juice, Bergamot oil, Bergamot tea, and Bergamot supplements come from the same plant source, they are not interchangeable, and wild Bergamot— an herb commonly referred to as Oswego—does not come from the same plant.