Bergamot

- By: Aimee Regur

(Australian Wild Plum and Willow Facial Cleanser, Egyptian Calendula and Blood Orange Facial Cleanser)

Citrus aurantium bergamia is native South Asia but has been naturalized in coastal areas of Southern Italy and the Ionian Sea. It is cultivated in the Cote d’Ivoire in Africa, Morocco and Turkey.

Bergamot Orange peel is most commonly known for its use as a flavoring agent in Earl Grey Tea and in marmalades. Medicinally it is used for lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) while helping to raise the good cholesterol (HDL), by blocking the production of LDL by the liver. Its richness in polyphenols contributes to its ability to help the body properly use and absorb cholesterol. It is also an effective insecticide and can be used to kill lice and is a great ingredient in bug sprays.

Bergamot is mostly used in perfumery and in cosmetics, specifically using the Essential Oil. Please note that the essential oil MUST be diluted, as it can be very caustic to the skin when applied straight and is also extremely photosensitive, meaning exposure to sunlight can cause sever blistering. This is true of all citrus essential oils. Due to this quality, bergamot is used in natural sun tanning products and can be found in treatments for pigment loss. In small doses it balances the oil production in the skin and is useful for acne. In aromatherapy Bergamot is used for respiratory ailments, as an anxiolytic and antidepressant, treating fear and hysteria.

Earl Grey Tea is named after the 2nd Earl of Grey, the British Prime Minister, Charles Grey in the 1830’s. It is said that the tea was presented by a Chinese Mandarin Tea Trader, subsequently the recipe was given, by Earl Grey to the Jacksons of Piccadilly, who made it popular among the gentry of England.

“For the sake of some things
That be now no more
I will strew rushes
On my chamber-floor,
I will plant bergamot
At my kitchen-door.”
– Edna St. Vincent Millay