Bergamot, be it from the bergamot orange or from the unrelated herb known as wild bergamot, offers many health benefits. Though the plants come from different families and species, they have one thing in common: their distinctive aroma. They have a pleasant orange-blossom fragrance that, studies have shown, calm anxiety and depression. Both aid in digestive ailments, but only the bergamot orange peel provides high amounts of antioxidants and antimicrobial properties.
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Bergamot Oil in Tea
One of the most common teas containing bergamot oil, obtained from the bergamot orange peel, is Earl Grey. The bergamot oil gives Earl Grey its orange-blossom-like aroma, but it also adds other values. In December 2007, "Positive Health" published a paper on how aromatherapy from oils, such as bergamot, can help people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Wild bergamot goes by many common names, including Oswego, bee balm, horse mint and Indian nettle. Its official name is Monarda didyma. A native North American perennial, it has a distinctive pink, red or purple bloom and four-sided, ridged stems. Native Americans made a tea from the plant's leaves for therapeutic purposes. Its uses included treatment of fevers, heart ailments, nausea and vomiting and to improve appetite. Science hasn't proved the utility of any of these treatments, though wild bergamot is part of the mint family and carries many similar properties.
Bergamot as an Antioxidant
Antioxidants play an important role in preventing cell damage and maintaining a youthful appearance. Bergamot oil, typically added to enhance a tea's flavor or aroma, offers an impressive amount of antioxidants. A 100-gram portion has an oxygen radical absorbance capacity score of 40,000.
Bergamot as a Natural Antidepressant
For many generations, some have thought that citrus fragrances enhance a person's mood. The "International Journal of Aromatherapy" published a study in 2004 that showed a marked improvement in alleviating anxiety and depression in 32 subjects. So sipping Earl Grey tea and breathing in that fabulous aroma is a good way to calm your mind at the end of a hectic day.
Bergamot Improves Digestion
The bitter properties in bergamot and wild bergamot treat digestive disorders. The American Chemical Society, in 2009, stated that dietary and herbal products use bergamot as a crude drug because of its eupeptic properties and therapeutic uses against digestive disorders. The next time you suffer from indigestion or nausea, brew yourself a nice cup of bergamot tea.
Bergamot Is a Powerful Antimicrobial
The "Journal of Applied Microbiology" published a study in 2007 that identified bergamot as a natural antimicrobial. This explains why Native Americans and naturopaths worldwide have used it to treat urinary-tract infections and yeast infections, though no studies have proven it effective.