Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints, disabling the person from performing daily activities. It causes inflammation, pain, stiffness, and redness of the joints [1].

Obesity, infections, joint injury, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, old age, female gender, and genetic factors can increase the chances of developing arthritis [2].

Medications can be used to reduce arthritis pain and slow disease progression. Arthritis can also be controlled with exercise, weight reduction, diet modification, etc [3].

Apart from these, it can also be controlled by various complementary therapies including aromatherapy [4].

Aromatherapy is defined as using essential oil obtained from natural sources in psychological and physical therapy [5]. Let us discuss some basic information about bergamot oil before explaining its benefits in arthritis.

What is Bergamot Essential Oil?

Bergamot is also known as bergamot orange or sour orange, and it is scientifically known as Citrus bergamia.

It is a branching tree with white flowers and yellow pear-shaped fruits cultivated in the southern coast of Italy [6].

Bergamot is a hybrid of lemon and bitter orange [7]. Bergamot essential oil is obtained from the dried peels of the fruits and from its leaves and flowers [8] [9].

Bergamot essential oil finds applications in confectionary, perfumery and pharmaceutical industries due to its lemon-scented aromatic properties.

Traditionally it has been used by Italians to treat skin infections and minor wounds [10].

Apart from the anti-microbial properties, it is now identified by research studies to possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic, cardioprotective, anti-anxiety and anti-cancer properties [11].

Benefits of Bergamot Essential Oil in Arthritis

Benefits of Bergamot essential oil in arthritis are mainly due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and analgesic properties.

In addition to reducing pain and inflammation, this oil can also help in weight reduction in arthritis which is key in the management of arthritis.

Scientific evidence also supports the strong antioxidant effect of bergamot oil which can prevent cell damage caused by oxidative stress in arthritis.

1. Bergamot Oil Can Alleviate Joint Pain in Arthritis

Pain is inevitable among arthritis patients which is the main reason behind disability and lack of function. Bergamot oil has been proven to contain pain relieving properties [12].

Animal studies have demonstrated the analgesic effect of bergamot oil. The main chemical constituent responsible for this effect is known as linalool [13] [14].

This analgesic activity extends to reduce pain which is triggered by inflammation as well [15], which can be vital in arthritis.

Bergamot oil is proposed in the management of chronic pain[16], nevertheless, more research data is essential to determine the extent of analgesic effect in arthritis and to establish a correct dose and route of administration of this oil.

What does this mean? Bergamot oil is a rich source of linalool which is an excellent and proven analgesic that can reduce pain induced by inflammation in arthritis.

2. Bergamot Oil Suppresses Inflammation in Arthritis

Arthritis is synonymous with the term inflammation which forms the main target of arthritis therapy.

Bergamot essential oil contains flavonoids that are proven to be anti-inflammatory in nature which can be employed to reduce arthritis-related inflammation [17].

The mechanism involved in this effect is by the interference in the chemical mediated inflammatory pathway in the body [18] [19].

Various animal studies describe the potential of bergamot extract in reducing inflammation in diseased conditions [20] [21].

Although studies on humans and arthritis patients are lacking in this regard, bergamot oil could be promising in fighting inflammation in arthritis.

What does this mean? Bergamot essential oil has been proven effective in inflammation reduction which can be used by arthritis patients.

3. Bergamot Oil Minimizes Oxidative Stress in Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition which causes oxidative stress, which is the damage to the cells by toxins called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).

Antioxidants are agents used to prevent this damage. As the nature of every citrus fruit bergamot too has its antioxidant benefits [22].

A detailed study of the chemical structure and function of bergamot extract by Nadia Ferlazzo et.al. revealed its powerful antioxidant nature which can be used to prevent cell injury in arthritis [23].

Animal studies have also contributed to a fair share to prove this effect [24].

‘Xanthine oxidase’ is an enzyme which is responsible for the generation of ROS. Bergamot oil exerts its free radical scavenging properties by inhibiting this enzyme [25].

This effect can benefit arthritis related to antioxidant deficiency and prevent cell damage.

What does this mean? Arthritis sufferers are more prone to develop cell damage caused by toxins in the body. Bergamot oil is a great antioxidant which can prevent this damage.

4. Bergamot Oil Can Help Arthritis Patients Reduce Weight

Generally, arthritis patients are obese, and obesity increases the chances of developing arthritis [26].

Increased fat tissue is also known to increase inflammation in the body [27].

Therefore, reducing weight forms one of the goals of arthritis therapy and bergamot oil can aid in this task.

Bergamot oil contains a chemical called ‘Naringin’, which acts by increasing the action of liver proteins that can reduce the fat accumulation in the body, thus helping in weight reduction [28] [29].

A clinical trial conducted by Yong Cai et.al. confirmed the anti-obesity properties of bergamot oil.

This study included 98 obese patients who took bergamot supplement for 12 weeks which showed significant weight reduction [30].

These studies form evidence that weight reduction can be achieved through bergamot oil in arthritis patients which can be employed in the better management of arthritis.

What does this mean? Bergamot oil has anti-obesity effects which can be beneficial to arthritis patients in weight reduction as well as reducing inflammation caused by fat tissue.

5. Bergamot Oil Can Uplift Mood Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Arthritis patients are found to suffer from anxiety and depression more than the general population  [31]  [32]. Managing this can utilize various complementary approaches mainly aromatherapy with essential oils [33].

A study conducted by Xuesheng Han et.al. included 57 patients who were treated with bergamot essential oil inhalation.

Fifteen minutes after inhalation patients had improved mood. It also rendered the use of bergamot oil safe and efficacious [34].

Another study including 41 patients demonstrated that bergamot essential oil was superior in reducing stress within a short period of time [35].

Anti-anxiety effects of bergamot have been demonstrated by various animal studies as well [36] [37] [38].

What does this mean? Arthritis patients are more prone to develop stress and anxiety. Bergamot oil has been proven to be exceptional in the alleviation of stress and helps in improving the mood.

How to Use Bergamot Essential Oil – Dosage

Bergamot essential oil (psoralen free) can be applied to the skin to reduce inflammation and pain [39]. Oral dosage for arthritis patients and inflammation reduction has not been determined. It can be used with 150mg flavonoids per day as per one study [40].

To relieve anxiety and stress bergamot oil can be used via inhalation after diluting it with carrier oils. It can also be placed on a diffuser and inhaled to energize the mood [41].

Precautions

Referring to the long-standing use of bergamot orally traditionally and through human trials bergamot is regarded as safe for oral consumption [42] [43].

Application of bergamot oil on the skin can cause skin burns when exposed to light [44]. Psoralen is a content in bergamot extract that is responsible for this effect.

Therefore, psoralen free bergamot oil must be used to avoid this [45].

Always test the diluted essential oil on a patch of skin before applying it to the skin. If there is no reaction after a day the oil is safe to be used in other areas of the body [46].

Conclusion

Bergamot essential oil is obtained from the citrus fruit exclusive to Italy, with a lemon-scented aroma. It is mainly used for flavoring, perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.

Numerous health benefits of this oil have been identified by researchers including antimicrobial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-cancer, etc.

Bergamot oil can especially benefit arthritis patients by reducing inflammation and pain. It also has positive effects on mood and relieves stress.

The citrus nature of this oil also imparts antioxidant effects which can prevent cell damage in arthritis patients. It is also found to aid in weight reduction which is a crucial step in managing arthritis.

Bergamot oil is a well-studied, safe and efficacious essential oil that could successfully affect and improve all the major symptoms of arthritis.

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