Bergamot is a citrus fruit in the Rutaceae
family of plants. Other plants in this family include lemons, limes, grapefruits, oranges and sichuan pepper.
The fragrant oil from the skin of the fruit is used as an essential oil and the fruit itself is used in marmalades and to flavour Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas.
The fruit bergamot is not to be mistaken with the herb bergamot, also called bee balm, which is a plant in the Lamiaceae
family of plants.
Like most other citrus fruits contain furanocoumarins
. These chemicals can get on the skin and in combination with ultraviolet light (sunlight) can cause a sunburn like rash. Furanocoumarins are found in higher concentrations in fresh herbs and are natural irritants which can cause allergic contact dermatitis. This is more common in occupations where you are frequently coming into contact with the food, like chefs, cooks, growers and pickers.
Citrus fruits are low FODMAP foods. FODMAP
stands for F
olyols. Foods high in FODMAPs can cause symptoms of food intolerance, affecting the gastro intestinal system and this can be mistaken for a true IgE food allergy.
You can read more about Food Intolerances
on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.
Oil of bergamot has been linked to allergic contact dermatitis, due to the high level of essential oils it contains.
Like lemons and limes, bergamot is associated with phytophotodermatitis. This is a skin condition that occurs when a person gets the juice from the fruit on the skin and doesn't wash it off. The furocoumarins in the juice of the fruit are activated by the sun and cause an itchy rash on the skin.
Other plants in the Rutaceae
family include curry leaf and sichuan pepper. Other plants in the Citrus
genus include grapefruit, kumquat, lemon, lime, orange and tangerine.
Contact Dermatitis Institute - Oil of Bergamot
Science Direct - Bergamot Oil
DermNet NZ - Bergamot
Healthline - FODMAP Foods
Articles and Journals
Phytophotodermatitis due to a Citrus-Based Hand Sanitizer: A Case Report, 2022
Bergamot Oil: Botany, Production, Pharmacology, 2021
Botanical Briefs: Phytophotodermatitis is an occupational and recreational dermatosis in the limelight, 2021
Gut Metabolism of Furanocoumarins: Proposed Function of Co O-Methyltransferase, 2020
Phytophotodermatitis in a butterfly enthusiast induced by Common Rue, 2020
Neuropharmacology of the essential oil of bergamot, 2010
Accidental bullous phototoxic reactions to bergamot aromatherapy oil, 2001
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