What Is Bergamot?
Bergamot is a green citrus fruit resembling a wrinkly lime, which is indigenous to Southern Italy, which is also where most of the essential oil is produced. The oil is extracted from the peel of the fruit and is used a flavoring in perfumes, tea, and some foods. In aromatherapy bergamot essential oil is used to help elevate the mood. Bergamot is also known to have a number of health benefits including protecting the heart and reducing cholesterol.
How bergamot helps the heart
Bergamot benefits heart health because the oil lowers cholesterol in the body. Studies show that bergamot lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol just as well as cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. This lowers the risk of heart disease. Not only that, but bergamot also increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL), making the supplement a better treatment option than statins.
While lowering bad cholesterol levels, most statins also deplete the body’s levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is an antioxidant which stimulates the production of energy within the body’s cells. Bergamot lowers LDL levels without depleting reserves of CoQ10, which means bergamot oil has fewer side effects than statins.
Bergamot improves arterial health
As discussed, bergamot reduces the body’s LDL cholesterol, which improves arterial health, but bergamot also helps to protect the arteries in another way. Bergamot oil contains two polyphenols known as melitidine and bruteridine. These are potent antioxidants which protect the tissues and blood vessels throughout the body by blocking free radical damage and inhibiting the formation of arterial plaque.
Bergamot’s other health benefits
As well as protecting the heart, bergamot has several other health benefits. The essential oil helps to reduce anxiety and stress and may also help to relieve mild depression. Bergamot also has antibacterial properties and has been shown to be effective at killing some strains of listeria. The essential oil also has anti-fungal properties which can help fight against skin infections caused by candida.
How to take bergamot
The recommended dose to reap the benefits of bergamot’s cardioprotective and other benefits is 500-1000 mg of standardized bergamot in tablet form once or twice each day before meals. The best results have been reported by people who took the supplement twice each day for 90 days.
In some people, bergamot has been known to cause adverse reactions such as blurred vision, twitching and muscle cramps. This is due to the fact that one of the oil’s components, known as bergapten, alters potassium channel currents. Bergamot also has photosensitizing components which may cause sensitivity to sunlight and a skin rash. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a doctor before taking bergamot.