New evidence for Bergamot’s calming effect

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Bergamot fruit

Inhaling Bergamot for Stress.

Living a life full of stress can lead to a long list health problems, from anxiety and depression, to weight gain and even heart disease. The solutions that conventional medicine offers can help with varying degrees of success, but drug side-effects are a poor trade-off for many people. This is one of the reasons there has been a growing interest in aromatherapy. Inhaling aromatic vapors has been a practice dating back centuries, and practitioners swear by the benefits for all sorts of ailments. While often controversial, bergamot, one of the aromatics used for reducing stress and anxiety, has been recently getting some valuable attention from the scientific community.

Bergamot is a fruit that is native to the Calabria area of Italy. It is often described as a cross between a bitter orange and a lemon. The fruit itself is inedible, but an oil, known as bergamot essential oil (BEO) can be extracted from its rind. The oil is a common product in perfumes, hair care products, tea flavorings, and much more. It has a strong, citrusy fragrance with an unmistakable hint of flowers. It’s this powerful, yet pleasant scent that has long made it a favorite for aromatherapy.

Effects of Bergamot Oil

The medical community has long disputed the effectiveness of BEO inhalants and aromatherapy as a stress reducer, mostly because of the lack of trial evidence. In order understand the effects of BEO, a recent study was conducted using an animal model. One group of animals inhaled BEO, and the other was given diazepam, a drug used to relieve anxiety and stress-related symptoms. The test results were compared to a control group that did not receive any treatments. The tests groups reacted with less stress than the control group. Testing also showed reduced production of the stress hormone corticosterone. The study concluded that BEO was equally effective as diazepam in reducing stress. BEO could therefore be a suitable alternative to drugs.

Effects of Aromatherapy on Mind and Body

Another study was conducted on 41 women to determine if BEO actually affected their mood and what sort of changes took place within their bodies. The participants were given three separate fifteen-minute treatments: Rest; rest and water vapor; and rest, water vapor, and BEO. During the treatments, the women were monitored for changes in heartrate and nervous system activity. At the end of each test, the women answered a series of questions, and gave a saliva sample to check their levels of cortisol, a hormone the body releases during stressful situations. Their heartrates were again monitored ten minutes after each treatment.

The results showed that all forms of the treatment had some measure of success in lowering cortisol. The treatment that used BEO showed the most success. When compared to the other two, BEO appeared to significantly reduce cortisol, negative emotions, and even fatigue. The researchers concluded that inhaling BEO with water vapor will lessen anxiety, stress, and cortisol levels in a matter of minutes. These findings show that the benefits of inhaling bergamot oil are more than psychological; they can help to heal the body too.

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