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Potential Side Effects of Bergamot

bergamot side effects

Native to southern Italy, citrus bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a unique citrus fruit used in culinary applications, aromatherapy, and for its many potential health benefits. While the fruit is edible, most culinary uses of bergamot extract rely on the juice or the zest – that’s because citrus bergamot is generally considered too bitter or sour to eat.

Bergamot has a long history of use in traditional and folk medicine traditions to treat a variety of ailments, from treating wounds and burns to lowering fevers to reducing inflammation. It is also popular in perfumes for its bergamot orange fragrance. Today, bergamot is touted for its antioxidant activity and its many flavonoids, many of which contribute to bergamot’s ability to help lower cholesterol levels.

If you’re considering starting a bergamot supplement, you may be wondering if there are side effects of bergamot to be concerned about. Below, we’ll cover the basics of what we know about the safety and benefits of citrus bergamot supplementation.

About Bergamot Supplementation

Many therapeutic bergamot applications – from aromatherapy to oral supplements – use essential oil derived from the bergamot peel.

Citrus bergamot is popular in aromatherapy and as an ingredient in topical applications (such as creams and lotions) for its distinct, uplifting citrus scent, which is simultaneously bright, complex, energizing, warm, and floral. Adding a few drops of bergamot essential oil to a diffuser, or in a spray bottle of water is a simple way to use bergamot as part of an aromatherapy routine.

Some bergamot lovers use bergamot essential oil topically. A few options to consider include:

  • Adding one or two drops of bergamot essential oil to a shampoo or conditioner bottle
  • Adding 15 to 20 drops of bergamot oil per one ounce of a carrier oil (jojoba, avocado, and almond oil are good examples) for a homemade massage oil
  • Adding two to five drops of essential oil to your favorite body scrub or body lotion

The other primary way to take bergamot is as a supplement. Bergamot supplements can usually be found in capsule form, and research indicates that bergamot may help reduce overall cholesterol levels and bad cholesterol levels in those with high cholesterol.

Potential Side Effects of Bergamot

But are there any side effects of bergamot to be concerned about? While citrus bergamot is generally considered safe for most adults when consumed in normal dietary amounts, there are some considerations to keep in mind.

Some people may experience mild side effects including dizziness, muscle cramps, and heartburn when taking bergamot with food. Bergamot can also cause blood sugar to drop and topical application can cause increased sun sensitivity (increasing the risk of sunburn for those whose skin is sensitive to sunlight).

Bergamot does contain certain compounds that can interact with enzymes involved in the way that some medications are metabolized by the body. As with any new medication or supplement, it’s best to consult with your doctor before starting to take bergamot to ensure that it won’t interact with any of your medications.

Some people have skin that is sensitive to bergamot oil, though, and even with proper dilution may experience side effects like:

  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Allergic contact dermatitis

To minimize risk of side effects, always follow these tips:

  1. Talk to a healthcare professional before starting a bergamot supplement, or any new supplement
  2. Follow dosing recommendations.
  3. Follow appropriate dilution recommendations for diffusers or topical formulations.
  4. Patch test on small areas of skin to check for irritation before applying more broadly.
  5. Wear sunscreen if going outside after applying a cream containing bergamot oil.
  6. Stop using or talk to your doctor if you experience any signs of an allergic reaction or pain.

Are you ready to try bergamot? Are you wondering what is the best bergamot supplement? Click here to find out.