Bergamot is a citrus fruit that primarily grows in southern Italy. Supplementing with bergamot may help reduce inflammation, lower blood glucose, and help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Citrus fruits such as bergamot are rich in flavonoids, which promote immune response and heart health. Bergamot may also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help lower cholesterol.

This article looks at bergamot supplements, including their benefits and potential side effects, and how to take them.

Bergamot fruit on a tree.Share on Pinterest
Sutin Yuukung/EyeEm/Getty Images

Bergamot, or Citrus bergamia, is a yellow citrus fruit the size of an orange. It grows primarily in Calabria, in southern Italy. The skin and juice of the bergamot are common ingredients in Italian folk medicine. Bergamot is also an ingredient in Earl Grey tea.

According to a 2019 review, the fruits contain various phytochemicals, flavonoids, and other health-promoting compounds.

Bergamot is available in supplement form or as an essential oil, juice, or extract. A person can also buy aroma sticks for inhaling the scent of bergamot.

Bergamot may have several health benefits, including the following:

Reducing cholesterol

A 2019 review cites several studies that suggest bergamot can help reduce lipids in the body and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The studies found that taking a daily supplement of bergamot-derived polyphenol fraction (BPF) reduced total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol.

BPF is a powder with high concentrations of polyphenols and is made from the juice and pith of bergamot.

A 2021 study notes that combining bergamot phytosome, or phyto, with artichoke leaf extract leads to similar decreases in cholesterol and a reduction in waist circumference and fat tissue in adults with overweight. This might be more effective than supplementing with bergamot alone.

However, this was a small, short duration study with only 60 participants. Larger scale studies are necessary to verify these findings.

Learn about the difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol here.

Managing blood glucose

Various studies have looked into the effect of bergamot supplements on managing blood glucose levels in people with metabolic syndrome, which causes symptoms such as high:

A 2019 study recruited 60 people with type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidemia. The researchers assigned the participants to one of three groups:

  • Group 1 took a BPF supplement.
  • Group 2 took a BPF phyto supplement, a formulation rich in polyphenols with enhanced bioavailability, which means the body can absorb and distribute it more easily.
  • Group 3 took a placebo.

People in groups 1 and 2 showed a considerable reduction in fasting plasma glucose, serum LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides and an increase in HDL cholesterol.

However, BPF phyto may be more beneficial than standard BPF. People in group 2, who took BPF phyto, absorbed 2.5 times as much naringin as those who took standard BPF. Naringin is the major component of BPF.

These results suggest that the specific formulation of BPF could impact the benefits a person derives.

However, this was a small study, and more research is necessary to verify its results.

Here, learn how to lower blood sugar levels.

Reducing inflammation

Bergamot may help reduce inflammation in the body.

The authors of a 2015 study looked at the effect of bergamot on reducing inflammation in mice. The mice showed fewer markers of inflammation following a daily dose of bergamot juice.

The researchers conclude that the anti-inflammatory properties of bergamot might be beneficial for treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease in humans.

However, there is currently not enough evidence that bergamot can have similar anti-inflammatory effects in humans.

Here, learn about eight natural supplements to fight inflammation.

Alleviating anxiety

Bergamot is a common ingredient in many aromatherapy oils and preparations.

One 2020 study tested people’s anxiety levels before they underwent gallbladder surgery. The researchers asked 30 participants to inhale bergamot orange essence, and another 30 to inhale odorless grapeseed oil.

The group that inhaled bergamot orange essence experienced lower anxiety levels.

The researchers suggest that people could use bergamot orange aromatherapy to alleviate their anxiety before other surgical procedures.

Bergamot is generally safe to use. There have been a few reports of adverse side effects, which are mostly related to applying bergamot essential oil to the skin.

Excessive intake of bergamot may be harmful. In a 2015 case study, a man experienced a range of symptoms after drinking up to 4 liters of Earl Grey tea every day for 5 weeks. Earl Grey tea contains bergamot extract oil, which in large quantities was acting as a potassium channel blocker.

A 2021 report notes that there is no research into the effects of bergamot supplements on children, older adults, or pregnant or lactating people. Therefore, individuals in these groups should be cautious before taking bergamot supplements or avoid them altogether.

Bergamot-derived products are available in many forms, including:

  • liquid extract, which people can add to tea or use as a cooking ingredient
  • pills or capsules ranging between 500 and 1,200 milligrams (mg) per serving
  • powder, which a person can add to juices or smoothies
  • juice, which people can dilute with water or drink as is

A person should read product labels carefully to ensure they do not exceed the recommended dose.

If a person is taking other medications, they should check with a doctor before supplementing with bergamot, to avoid drug interactions.

In clinical research, supplementing with bergamot in various forms has produced beneficial health effects.

Researchers are still investigating how exactly bergamot helps and whether results from animal studies can be replicated in human studies.

Bergamot is likely to have different effects on different people. If taking bergamot fits with a person’s lifestyle, they feel good when taking it, and they do not exceed the recommended dose, it should be a safe supplement to take.

Bergamot is a citrus fruit growing mainly in southern Italy. People have been using it in traditional Italian medicine to treat symptoms such as sore throat and fever. Bergamot is also an ingredient in Earl Grey tea.

Research suggests that bergamot may be useful in reducing inflammation and cholesterol and may help prevent cardiovascular disease.

A person can supplement with bergamot by taking pills or capsules, adding powder to drinks, or adding an extract to baking.

Bergamot is generally safe, but excessive amounts may have adverse health effects. Children, older adults, and pregnant or lactating people should be cautious about taking bergamot supplements or avoid them altogether.