Research: Bergamot Essential Oil Lowers Anxiety in Humans!

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Bergamot Fruit

Nearly ripe Bergamot fruit. The essential oil is cold-pressed from its peels.

As reported in the German journal of Research in Complementary Medicine, the inhalation of Bergamot essential oil (Citrus bergamia) significantly reduced physiological and psychological markers of stress in human subjects. This is exciting news, as this is one of the few studies to use a placebo control, and a population size resulting in statistically-significant results.

The experiment was a simple one: 41 test volunteers were exposed to each of three experimental conditions: 15 of rest, 15 minutes of exposure to water vapor + rest, or 15 minutes of water vapor + Bergamot essential oil + rest. Saliva samples were taken immediately after each session, and 10 minutes later the volunteers completed questionnaires reporting mood, anxiety and fatigue levels. Heart rate variability was measured throughout each of the test periods.

The botany of Bergamot: The tree produces Neroli from the flowers, Petitgrain from the leaves and Bergamot from the peels of the fruit.

The results note: Salivary cortisol levels (the stress hormone) were lowered, high frequency heart rate activity was increased (a good thing indicating lower levels of stress), and mood, anxiety and fatigue scores were all improved with the inhalation of Bergamot.

This is one of our favorite “single” oils to use in a diffuser, no blending required. It’s inexpensive, has a lovely sweet-tart citrus aroma, and actually has a significant body of research backing its use for supporting other conditions – most notably its potential to reduce the perception of pain. This research has not been confirmed with human studies, but the results seem promising enough that we may see such a study in the future.

See also our research review titled “Bergamot Appears Good for Just About Everything That Ails You


Want to try Bergamot essential oil for free? Here’s how…

Here’s a great way to try Bergamot essential oil for yourself for free with your next order. Simply share The Ananda Apothecary using the ‘share’ box on our home page, or any page you find it on. Click ‘Share’ or ‘G+’ symbols and log in to your Facebook or Google account to complete the sharing process (use any social media site if you don’t have an account with these).

Just tell us you’ve done so in the comments box of the checkout page and we’ll add 10ml of Italian Bergamot to your order for free! And if you’ve done so already, please feel free to do so again. Thank you!


What follows is the article abstract (summary). The complete article is available here.

Title: Effects of bergamot (Citrus bergamia) essential oil aromatherapy on mood states, parasympathetic nervous system activity, and salivary cortisol levels in 41 healthy females.

Published In: Forsch Komplementmed. 2015;22(1):43-9. doi: 10.1159/000380989. Epub 2015 Feb 19.

Authors: Watanabe E1, Kuchta K, Kimura M, Rauwald HW, Kamei T, Imanishi J.

Background: Bergamot essential oil (BEO) is commonly used against psychological stress and anxiety in aromatherapy. The primary aim of the present study was to obtain first clinical evidence for these psychological and physiological effects. A secondary aim was to achieve some fundamental understanding of the relevant pharmacological processes.

Methods: Endocrinological, physiological, and psychological effects of BEO vapor inhalation on 41 healthy females were tested using a random crossover study design. Volunteers were exposed to 3 experimental setups (rest (R), rest + water vapor (RW), rest + water vapor + bergamot essential oil (RWB)) for 15 min each. Immediately after each setup, saliva samples were collected and the volunteers rested for 10 min. Subsequently, they completed the Profile of Mood States, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Fatigue Self-Check List. High-frequency (HF) heart rate values, an indicator for parasympathetic nervous system activity, were calculated from heart rate variability values measured both during the 15 min of the experiment and during the subsequent 10 min of rest. Salivary cortisol (CS) levels in the saliva samples were analyzed using ELISA.

Results: CS of all 3 conditions R, RW, and RWB were found to be significantly distinct (p = 0.003). In the subsequent multiple comparison test, the CS value of RWB was significantly lower when compared to the R setup. When comparing the HF values of the RWB setup during the 10 min of rest after the experiment to those of RW, this parameter was significantly increased (p = 0.026) in the RWB setup for which scores for negative emotions and fatigue were also improved.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate that BEO inhaled together with water vapor exerts psychological and physiological effects in a relatively short time.

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