Citrus: Bergamot and Beyond

Most people love the smell of citrus, whether you’re peeling an orange, using a lemon-scented cleaning product, or enjoying the aromatherapy of a fruity essential oil in your essential oil diffuser. It’s uplifting, tangy aroma just makes us happy, and a day without happy is a day without sunshine!

Most citrus originated in Asia, used in Ayurvedic, Chinese and Japanese medicine for thousands of years. It made its way to Europe and Africa thanks to the Moors, in particular a man called Ziryab (black singing bird in Arabic) who was an astronomer and scientist. He was aware of the benefits of good personal hygiene, and created deodorant, toothpaste and hair shampoo using fragrant oils from citrus fruits.

Once the health benefits of citrus came to be known in Europe, sailors brought the fruits to America and the Caribbean as they explored, and incorporated the citrus into their diets, with its high levels of Vitamin C proving useful to prevent scurvy.

Today, citrus essential oils are some of the most widely used worldwide. Most citrus essential oils are extracted from the peel that contains the aromatic essential oil, and most citrus oils are extracted by cold-pressing rather than steam-distilled like most other essential oils.

Of the citrus oils included in this article, only Lime and Neroli are steam-distilled, and although Lime oil is extracted from the peel, Neroli oil comes from the flowers of the orange tree.

Which essential oils belong to the Citrus Family?

Bergamot, Blood Orange, Citronella, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin Orange, Neroli, Pink Grapefruit, Sweet Orange and Tangerine essential oils.

What do the Different Citrus Essential Oils have in Common?

Citrus essential oils have many properties and benefits in common, such as:

  • Skin: beneficial for anti-aging, acne, oily or dull skin, dermatitis, scars and stretch marks.

  • Insects: repel insects and treat the itching and inflammation from bites and stings.

  • Antioxidant: support the immune system, to fight colds and flu virus, bronchitis and fevers.

  • Digestive system: relieve diarrhea, constipation, and gas. Stimulate organs to work smoothly.

  • Circulatory system: stimulate function of organs, help detox the body.

  • Infections: they are antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and disinfectant.

  • Sedative and calming: relax muscles, arthritis and rheumatism, reduce stress and anxiety and promote peaceful feelings.

  • Energizing: Uplifting energy, promote happy, positive feelings.

How Do Citrus Oils Differ?

Although overall citrus oils have very similar properties, some are stronger, or are more effective at relieving certain symptoms or conditions than others. Here are some of the ways:

Bergamot: is the essence flavor in Earl Grey tea. It calms and restores your energy.

Blood Orange: super antioxidant properties, due to red color and Anthocyanin that even slows growth of cancer cells!

Citronella: is well known for it’s insect repellant properties. Among its many other properties it’s an antibacterial and antiseptic.

Lemon: brings both low blood pressure and high blood pressure into normal balance.

Lemongrass: has a light and fresh lemony smell. It is stimulating, relaxing, soothing, and balancing.

Lime: powerful for skin care, especially for treating acne, fading scars and stretch marks.

Mandarin Orange: Similar to Sweet Orange, but more intense aroma and effectiveness.

Neroli: Most potent aroma, with floral notes, wonderful for fragrances and aromatherapy.

Pink Grapefruit: Highly effective for obesity, water retention and stimulates digestion.

Sweet Orange: Gentler, more subtle overall effect.

Tangerine: Best for calming children and teens, especially for naps and bedtime.

TIP: Many citrus essential oils can cause phototoxicity if you have prolonged exposure to UV Rays within 12-18 hours of using the essential oil. Phototoxicity means an inflammation-causing reaction that leaves skin sunburned, reddened, and even blistered. So either wait until you come back inside to use your citrus oils, or be sure to dilute them with coconut, sweet almond or jojoba oil, and use a good sunscreen.

Blending: Citrus oils pair very well as a top note fragrance for florals, like Rose, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, and Neroli oil, as well as with spicy oils like Ginger, Clove, Coriander, Black Pepper and Cinnamon Leaf. They also combine well with other citrus oils for aromatherapy, massage oil or a bath additive. Check out our new Bathbombs as we have many citrus mixes!

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