The Bergamot Citrus fruit resembles a small orange to green flesh and skin smooth and thick, yellow when ripe. Its flesh is slightly acidic and bitter, we use only the zest. It weighs between 80 and 200 grams.
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The bergamot is the fruit of the bergamot tree of the family Rutaceae has mainly grown in Calabria (Italy). According to Giorgio Gallesio, it originated from a cross between a sour orange and lime (also known as lime).
The bergamot (Citrus bergamia, and RISSO PoIT.) is grown mainly in Calabria (95% of world production) where the quality of the essential oil is known for the best, and marginally in Côte d’Ivoire, in Morocco, Portugal.
There are only 4 main varieties: Fantastico , Castagnaro , Calabrese and Femminello
According to some, bergamot comes from the East and was introduced to Europe by the Crusaders and his name is a corruption of the Turkish word beg armudi meaning “lord’s pear”, while others argue that it has been reported in the Canary Islands by Christopher Columbus and it takes its name from the town of Berga, north of Barcelona, where it was originally cultivated.
Bergamot can be found in Italy, Morocco, and the Ivory Coast, it originated in Asia. Bergamot is a small tree with long, oval green leaves with white flowers. The bergamot bears a small round fruit that is yellow when ripe. Bergamot’s essential oil is extracted by cold expression from the fruit peel. It has a spicy, delicate scent that is light and refreshing.
Bergamot is used as an antidepressant and is calming and refreshing for the nervous system. It is highly useful as an antiseptic and is used as an insect repellent. When using as an insect repellent use caution and avoid strong sunlight, bergamot contains furocoumarins, which can cause photosensitivity.
Bergamot received its name from the city where it was first cultivated, which was Bergamot, Italy. It is said that Christopher Columbus brought the tree from the Canary Islands to Spain and Italy. Bergamot oil was a very valued oil during the 15th to 16th century; it was used in teas and perfumes. In voodoo, it is thought to ward off evil and danger.
The essential oil of bergamot contains bergapten, a coumarin, which causes photosensitivity of the skin and cell mutations that can induce cancer. Photosensitizing properties have been used in the past in sunscreens to accelerate tanning, but since the bergapten has been recognized as hazardous, it is removed from the essential oil by chemical treatment before being marketed (débergapténisation). Bergapten alone is used as a mutagen in cell cultures in genetic research, including research against cancer.
The essential oil of bergamot, extracted from ripe fruit just has many properties that are used in aromatherapy. It is:
- antiseptic ;
- antispasmodic ;
- deworming ;
- stimulating to the stomach.
It is recommended mainly in cases of colonic intestinal, intestinal parasites, from indigestion or loss of appetite. However, the essential oil of bergamot is a photosensitizer.
Bergamot orange and sun exposure
In the past, psoralen extracted from bergamot oil has been used in tanning accelerators and sunscreens. Psoralens penetrate the skin, where they increase the amount of direct DNA damage. This damage is responsible for sunburn and for increased melanin production. It can also lead to phytophotodermatitis, a darkening of the skin as a result of a chemical reaction that makes the skin extra sensitive to ultraviolet light.
These substances were known to be photocarcinogenic since 1959, but they were only banned from sunscreens in 1995. These photocarcinogenic substances were banned years after they had caused many cases of malignant melanoma and deaths. Psoralen is now used only in the treatment of certain skin disorders, as part of PUVA therapy.
The fruit is harvested for the essential oil to perfume “sweet and spicy,” said Gallesio, contained in its bark. It is used for half the food, and half in perfumery and cosmetics.
Oil Bergamot is used in:
- the cologne ;
- the tea ( Earl Grey and Lady Grey );
- the bergamot Nancy (candy);
- Confit is an ingredient of Tajine Moroccan;
- Some sunscreens old (see “Therapeutic Properties”);
- as a mutagen for genetic research.