Citrus Bergamot Safety: Side Effects & Interactions

Citrus bergamot is a fruit that has been used in traditional medicine for many ailments.  Many people today use citrus bergamot to improve cholesterol, lower blood sugar, lose weight, and …

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Written by: Jack Cincotta, MS
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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Citrus bergamot is a fruit that has been used in traditional medicine for many ailments. 

Many people today use citrus bergamot to improve cholesterol, lower blood sugar, lose weight, and combat inflammation.

This article overviews citrus bergamot safety, possible side effects, and any important citrus bergamot interactions. 

citrus bergamot safety and side effects

Citrus Bergamot Overview:

Citrus bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a perennial in the citrus family. This citrus fruit is native to Calabria, which is a southern region in Italy. It is often referred to as bergamot orange, sour orange, or simply bergamot. 

Despite its name, bergamot orange is actually yellowish-green in appearance, often thought to be a hybrid of the common lemon and bitter orange. 

Citrus bergamot grows best in warm tropical climates with mild winters. 

Individuals may be familiar with citrus bergamot as it is used to make Earl Grey tea, one of the most popular teas in the world. Earl Grey tea is made by combining black tea with citrus bergamot oil.

Beyond its use in tea, citrus bergamot is noteworthy due to the presence of many health-promoting flavonoids, such as naringin, neohesperidin, and neoereocitrin. 

Citrus Bergamot Benefits & Uses:

Citrus bergamot is a well-researched herb and seems to offer many possible health benefits. Listed below are some of the potential benefits of citrus bergamot: 

  • Improved Cholesterol: A review of the literature shows that citrus bergamot is effective for lowering LDL and total cholesterol and increasing HDL. Read more here.
  • Reduced Blood Sugar: A number of clinical trials reveal that citrus bergamot improves blood sugar levels, likely due to its effects on insulin and glucose metabolism. Read more here.
  • Weight Loss: A few clinical studies such as this one indicate that bergamot orange is effective for weight loss, possibly due to its effects on fat and sugar metabolism. Read more here.
  • Decreased Inflammation: Citrus bergamot contains a high concentration of flavonoids and antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation. Read more here.

Overall, citrus bergamot offers many important benefits for human health. 


Research has found that citrus bergamot may work to improve cholesterol, lower blood sugar, promote weight loss, and reduce inflammation.

Is Citrus Bergamot Safe to Consume?

Yes, citrus bergamot is generally safe to consume for most individuals.

According to the Botanical Safety Handbook, citrus bergamot is in the safest category for herbs (Class 1) and has a very low potential for herb-drug interactions (Class A). 

However, there is some concern with citrus bergamot safety when used as an essential oil on the skin. There are possible phototoxic (sunlight sensitivity) and carcinogenic effects from furocoumarins that are present in bergamot orange. 

These problems can be mitigated by using furocoumarin-free bergamot oil, which is the most common variety today. Still, be sure to check the label and ask the manufacturer any questions you may have. 

Is Citrus Bergamot Safe?

Yes, citrus bergamot is typically safe to take for most consumers. However, it’s best to talk with your personal healthcare provider prior to adding a new supplement to your routine.

What Medications Should Not Be Taken With Citrus Bergamot?

There are a few citrus bergamot drug interactions to be aware of. 

The first is with medications that cause sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity). Examples of such drugs are Elavil, Cipro, Noroxin, Maxaquin, and Floxin. This is true only for bergamot essential oils that have not removed furocoumarins.

Also, citrus bergamot may lower blood sugar, so caution is advised for anyone taking diabetes medications to lower blood sugar. Common medications for diabetes include: 

  • Amaryl
  • DiaBeta
  • Exogoneous insulin
  • Actos
  • Avandia
  • Diabinese
  • Glucotrol 

Lastly, due to citrus bergamot’s effects on cholesterol, individuals taking statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications should talk with their doctor. Such medications include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Lipitor
  • Lescol XL
  • Altoprev
  • Crestor
  • Zetia
  • Praluent
  • Nexlitol
  • Colestid

Berberine may work as an effective alternative to citrus bergamot supplementation. Click here to learn the similarities and differences between the benefits of citrus bergamot and berberine.

information on citrus bergamot safety, side effects, and dosing

Citrus Bergamot Side Effects:

There aren’t many side effects of citrus bergamot other than the potential phototoxic concerns when using citrus bergamot oil topically.

If bergamot oil contains furocoumarins, one may experience increased sensitivity to sunlight and possibly sunburn. Other potential skin reactions include rashes, itching, and burning.

Citrus bergamot side effects are rare when taken orally in a supplement form. That said, some individuals report heartburn or other digestive symptoms after taking citrus bergamot.

How Much Citrus Bergamot Should I Take?

Based on evidence from clinical trials, an effective dosage of citrus bergamot flavonoids extract is 500-1,000mg daily. Individuals should take a flavonoid-based citrus bergamot extract since it’s more concentrated in the compounds that lead to health benefits.

It’s unclear what the optimal dosage is when using a form of the whole fruit, although it would need to be higher given the decreased concentration of flavonoids.

Click here to read our article going over the recommended dosages for citrus bergamot.

Citrus Bergamot Dosage:

Clinical trials indicate that taking between 500mg to 1,000mg of citrus bergamot extract daily is an effective dosage.

When Should I Take Citrus Bergamot?

Citrus bergamot can be taken at any time of day. With that said, it may be best to take it in the morning. This approach allows citrus bergamot to get into the system for the whole day. Additionally, taking it right away in the morning may make it easier to stay consistent. 

Additionally, many individuals consume citrus bergamot by drinking Earl Grey tea. It’s also important to note that Earl Grey tea won’t give the same health benefits as taking citrus bergamot extract supplements.

Click here for our full overview of the best citrus bergamot supplements.

Should I Cycle Citrus Bergamot?

No, there is no evidence that indicates that citrus bergamot needs to be cycled. It may be wise to talk with one’s doctor and get periodic bloodwork done if there are any concerns.

Citrus bergamot appears safe for long-term use. 

How Long Does it Take for Citrus Bergamot to Work?

Citrus bergamot takes time to reach its full effects. Based on clinical studies, one should supplement with citrus bergamot consistently for 1-3 months for best results.

The length of time that citrus bergamot takes to work also depends on various individual factors, such as one’s health condition and various diet and lifestyle factors.


Although diet and lifestyle greatly influences the effect of citrus bergamot, daily supplementation with citrus bergamot is thought to begin working within 1 to 3 months.

Citrus Bergamot vs. Other Herbs:

Citrus Bergamot is often compared with many other different types of herbs. We have put together a few helpful articles going over common comparisons.

Citrus Bergamot vs. Berberine: Similarities & Differences Explained

• Citrus Bergamot vs. Bitter Orange: Similarities & Differences Explained

Citrus Bergamot vs. Red Yeast Rice: Similarities & Differences Explained

Citrus Bergamot vs. Statins: Similarities & Differences Explained

Read More:

Below, we’ve compiled our articles that go over the specific health benefits of citrus bergamot for additional reading.

• 5 Benefits of Citrus Bergamot

5 Benefits of Citrus Bergamot Tea: Dosage & Side Effects

Citrus Bergamot Dosage: How Much Should You Take Per Day?

Citrus Bergamot for Blood Sugar & Weight Loss

• Citrus Bergamot for Cholesterol

Citrus Bergamot for Inflammation

citrus bergamot safety, benefits, and side effects


Overall, citrus bergamot is a safe herb to use for most individuals. There are only a handful of potential citrus bergamot side effects, all of which are mild-to-moderate in nearly all cases. 

Despite the possibility of citrus bergamot interacting with medications, the vast majority of people can use citrus bergamot safely to experience possible health benefits, especially for heart health.

As always, it’s best to contact your doctor or other certified medical professional to ensure that citrus bergamot supplementation is a safe and effective option. 

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About Jack Cincotta, MS

Jack has a Master of Science degree in Psychology and is also an AADP® Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and AFPA® Certified Holistic Health Coach. His passion is to help people develop optimal levels of health, particularly mental health.