Bergamot Essential Oil
Profile of an Important Qi Regulator
© Peter Holmes 2004
Appearance: A mobile light-emerald green fluid with a warm fruity-sweet scent with fresh-citrus topnotes
Botanical name: Citrus bergamia (Rutaceae – citrus family)
Production areas: Calabria in South Italy and the Ivory Coast in West Africa
Extraction: Cold expression of the somewhat unripe bergamot fruit rinds
1 kg oil yield from: 200-300 kg of the rinds (a fairly good yield)
Main constituents: Esters (incl. linalyl acetate 30-60%, geranyl acetate, neryl acetate) o alcohols (incl. monoterpenols 45-65%, linalool up to 22%, nerol, geraniol, dihydrocumin alcohol) o monoterpenes (incl. limonene 26-42%, pinene, terpinene, sabinene, myrcene, cymene) o sesquiterpenes o furanocoumarins (incl. bergapten, bergamottin)
Therapeutic Functions and Indications
Safety status: Non-toxic, non-irritant, strongly photosensitizing
Fragrance category: Middle tone with sweet and lemony notes
Tropism: Nervous, digestive, urinary, respiratory systems
Liver, Spleen, Stomach, Heart meridians
Third and fourth chakra
Balances the mind and harmonizes mood and feelings
o Mood swings
o Depression with anxiety
o Mental lability and instability
Uplifts the mind, heartens and creates optimism
o Listlessness, mental fatigue, discouragement, depression
Mild nervous sedative (hypnotic): hyperactive conditions with tension, insomnia, anxiety, bipolar disorder
Biliary & gastric stimulant, cholagogue, spasmolytic, carminative: biliary and gastric insufficiencies with dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, halitosis
Antibacterial, febrifuge: mouth, throat, skin, bladder and respiratory infections (incl. laryngitis, strep throat, tonsillitis), fever (incl. malaria)
Antiviral: herpes simplex I, shingles
Anthelmintic, vermifuge: intestinal parasites
Chinese Medicine Functions and Indications
Acupoints, liniments, nebulizers
Warmth quality: Warm
Meridians: Liver, Heart, Spleen, Stomach
1. Spreads Liver Qi, releases constraint and harmonizes the mind
o Liver Qi stagnation with mind disharmony, with distraction, confusion, irritability, mood swings, frustration, moodiness
o Liver and Heart Qi stagnation with mind disharmony, with distraction, restlessness, mood swings, irritability, anxiety with possible depression, transient overexcitement, insomnia, palpitations
2. Regulates the Qi and harmonizes the middle warmer
o Liver/Stomach disharmony with epigastric fullness, nausea, indigestion, colic
o Spleen/Stomach Qi stagnation with indigestion, bloating, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting
Do not exceed the dilutions below when applying topically. Caution: Increases skin photosensitivity, so avoid any exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light for up to 24 hrs. after applying Bergamot in a massage oil/lotion. This does not apply to point application as long as the skin surface is wiped off after the treatment.
2 drops on a Q-tip applied to the point for 10-60 seconds prior to needling or manual stimulation. The Q-tip may be held in place longer if neccessary, especially in the case of needle-free treatment of children, for example.
Massage: 2-4% dilution in a lotion or vegetable oil base
Remarks: The essential oil of Mandarin, citrus reticulata, is virtually interchangeable with Bergamot oil. This is Chen Pi oil, in fact. The two can substitute for each other or can be used together to reinforce their actions. These remarks therefore apply to Mandarin as much as to Bergamot unless specified otherwise.
With its deservedly popular fresh-citrus scent, Bergamot essential oil is extremely important from both the olfactory and therapeutic point of view. The olfactory pathway affects mainly the shen or mind, and here Bergamot is essentially harmonizing and balancing. The oil will address mind conditions characterized by a disharmony or disorganization. Mind disharmony is neither a true excess condition, as when the mind becomes agitated, nor a true deficiency condition, as when the mind becomes weakened. The condition usually precedes an excess or deficiency of the mind and, needless to point out, is extremely common. It is the most basic preclinical condition of the mind seen in the West.
is therefore an important mind regulator with symptoms such as moodiness, mood swings, distraction and mental changeability or inconsistency. In depression accompanied with anxiety, Bergamot is the perfect choice, especially when combined with Mandarin and/or Lavender oils.
On the physiological level too, Bergamot is perhaps the most essential Qi-regulating oil we know. Entering the Liver and Spleen channels primarily, this oil will gently yet confidently smooth out any ruffled Qi arising from Liver stagnation. Spreading outward from the Liver axis, Bergamot then firstly smooths and regulates the Qi in the Spleen-Stomach or middle warmer, and secondly regulates the Qi that rises to the Heart along the Wood – Fire sheng cycle. This is why this oil is the most fundamental in patterns such as Liver-Stomach disharmony and Liver-Spleen disharmony – essentially Wood invading Earth. Good combining oils for these two syndromes include Fennel, Peppermint and Basil.
Equally, in Liver-Heart Qi stagnation, which often involves mind disharmony as a prominent feature, Bergamot is a basic oil. Here we can reinforce its action for the relief of anxiety (often with depression), sleeping problems, palpitations and so on, with oils such as Lavender, Mandarin and Blue tansy.
Bergamot is always moderate by nature and usually works gently but effectively, especially in younger, older and more sensitive people. It is appropriate for conditions of mild to medium severity. In medium to severe conditions, it should be combined with stronger oils to address any acute symptoms that may be present more rapidly. For instance, in the case of Liver-Heart Qi stagnation with palpitations (tachycardia) as a prominent symptom, Marjoram, Spikenard or Ylang ylang should also be selected. Or in the case of Liver Qi stagnation turning into fire with acute irritability, agitation, etc., Neroli or May chang should be added.
A gentler version of Bergamot and Mandarin is Sweet orange oil, which should be used for these same conditions when treating infants or young children, or in very mild conditions in general.