Mentha piperita L. var. citrata (EhrH.) or Mentha citrata as it is commonly written is an interesting essential oil that I have started using recently. It is of course a subspecies of mint and contains high amounts of linalyl acetate and linalool accounting for the majority of the total constituents (Murray et al 1970). Handa et al. (1964) have reported that Mentha citrata oil has 0.6% alpha-pinene, 0.9% beta-pinene, 1.1 % limonene, 0.2% cineole, 4.2% piperitone, 3.0% piperitone oxide, 8.1 % pulegone, 0.1 % menthofuran, 32.4% linalool, 45.0% linalyl acetate, and 3.8% unaccounted. Small amounts (0.1-2.0%) of limonene and of cineole are found in all Mentha citrata parental and hybrid strains and there are also small amounts of citronellol and geraniol (known to cause sensitization). Variations will of course be determined by soil composition, weather, harvesting time and different hybrids so you would need to request the GC analysis for the batch you purchased. "Taxonomically, [it] has been considered a variety of Mentha aquatica L. by DeWolf (1954), or as a variety of Mentha piperita L. by Hegi (1931)" (Murray et al 1970) but clearly a hybrid of different species of mint. The plant's origins are most likely southern Mediterranean, central Europe and Asia. It is typically a mint as you can see from the image with a purple flower, which is a perennial herb growing up to about 3 feet. The essence is used extensively in the perfume industry, is clear to pale yellow in colour and is extracted by steam distillation of the whole flowering plant.
I have been using this in different ways over the past few weeks to see what it does
and to understand its personality. I started wearing it as a perfume and found it to be very comforting. The aroma has an uplifting lemony quality with herb undertones and as a mint oil and a member of the Lamiaceae family, it will be a middle note, although most sources I have read state that it is middle-top and that is probably due to its citrus tones. Personally, I felt that it was quite grounding with an earthy quality. The mint aroma is quite mild, which is pleasant. Murray et al (1970) concludes that certain species of the subgenus Menthastrum will have a Lavender odour and blend well with Lavender. My bottle of oil from Base Formula does have a hint of a Lavender aroma but with mint and lemon. It has a Bergamot-like aroma without the sweetness and with those herby undertones. This mix of mild mint and citrus notes makes the aroma very interesting and I agree with Wendy Robbins at NAHA that it can be used as a substitute for Lavender. This is great news as it has similar chemical constituents and makes a pleasant change but I also think it is more complex than Lavender oil in terms of its aroma and benefits. I spent some time working through my essential oil box to see which other oils it blends well with. This is what I came up with:
Sweet Orange (Citrus aurantium) - this blends well for massage and was used on several clients who presented with muscle pains and stress related symptoms. I actually dowsed the oils and was surprised when Orange oil came up on three occasions to use with the Bergamot Mint. It is certain that these two are synergistically compatible. The reports I received back from each of the clients concerned were that they felt highly relaxed after, comfortable and pain free following their aromatherapy massage treatment. Result!
Lime - (Citrus latifolia) - I also carried out a treatment on a client using the Bergamot Mint with Orange and Lime oils. This was a beautifully uplifting a fruity aroma and all blended well. It was a morning treatment so it was good to have oils high in monoterpenes to heighten the senses and uplift her for the rest of the day. She reported feeling really good all day and her aches and pains had completely gone. I put that down to my massage skills and the Bergamot Mint!
In fact, this oil blends well with all the citrus oils and this includes Bergamot oil. I also found it works well with Lavender (all types) and Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) due to the similarity in constituents, and blends particularly well with Juniper (Juniperus communis) and is absolutely beautiful blended with Ho Wood (Cinnamomum camphora). In fact, this is my top tip blend for stress and anxiety at the moment, equal amounts in a 2% dilution. You can blend it with all the mints and Eucalyptus and it is also nice with Rose (Rosa damascena) or Neroli (Citrus aurantium) but these are by no means the best ones to blend it with. It is good with all the medicinal oil, so lovely with Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Cajeput (Melaleuca leucadendra) and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), although I did not like it with Tea Tree so much. It does blend really well with Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Basil (Ocimum basilicum) too. Of the wood oils, I only liked it blended with Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) and I tried it with Black Spruce (Picea mariana) and that was also very nice. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) is also a pleasant blend. The other citrusy oils such as Lemongrass, Eucalyptus citriodora and May Chang were too overpowering for it.
Oil uses vary depending on which sources you read. It is listed as being antiseptic, anti-depressant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-spasmodic, analgesic and carminative. I read on one website when researching the oil that it would be good for menopausal women because of its cooling effect but as a menopausal woman, I can't say it had any positive effect on my power surges and nor did I find it particularly cooling, especially compared to using Peppermint oil! I do agree that it is highly relaxing and soothing on the nervous system and it would be a good one to wear in the aromatherapy diffuser necklaces you can buy or put in a sniffy stick. I just put a few drops on my scarf and wore it that way - simple but effective. It is good to remember that it is a member of the mint family and all the usual mint therapeutic effects are present here, but in a much milder form. It definitely has good analgesic effects from my use of it with clients with muscle pain. I have yet to try its carminative effects but I suspect that this would be a good substitute for Peppermint oil for children, which is contraindicated for children due to its high 1,8 cineole content, which Bergamot Mint does not have (Peppermint 40-45% and Bergamot Mint around 2%). I saw a suggested blend of Bergamot Mint with Mandarin oil for tummy upset for a child and this sounds good, as long as the dilution ratio is around 0.5% for children under the age of three. The fact that some sources state that it is good to help you sleep means that it is not quite so uplifting and mentally stimulating as the citrus oils are or indeed as Peppermint is and blended with appropriate relaxing oils, I have found it to be wonderful to use to help you drift off into a restful sleep. It would probably be quite good for meditation too as I find it quietens and clears the mind.
In terms of safety data, there is a minor potential for skin sensitization on some individuals, so as usual always do your patch test first. All sources claim that it should not be used in pregnancy but I cannot find out the reason for this caution. Certainly looking at the chemistry there is no reason to worry and Tisserand does not list any special precautions in his Essential Oil Safety book. If anyone can enlighten me, please let me know and I will add the information in here.
This is oil is truly a great addition to my essential oil box and is becoming one of my new favourites. I highly recommend purchasing a bottle and would enjoy hearing about your experiences with the oil. Here is the link to the oil at Base Formula.
Remember that all members of Complementary Health Professionals get 15% discount at Base Formula so ensure you send them a copy of your membership certificate to set up your account to apply the discount.
I offer a diploma in Essential Oil Theory and in Aromatherapy through my school at Natural Therapeutics as well as other diploma courses and CPD workshops. For further information, please see my website http://www.naturaltherapeutics.co.uk where you can also find my contact information. All courses are accredited by Complementary Health Professionals and students on diploma courses will get free student membership during their training of our professional association.
Base Formula Website, Bergamot Mint Oil, www.baseformula.com <accessed 01/03/2018>
IFRA Annex 1 to the IFRA Standards - 46th Amendment (indicative maximum levels in different fragrance materials - available on the IFRA website)
Murray, M. J., & Lincoln, D. E. (1970) The Genetic Basis of Acyclic Oil Constituents in MENTHA CITRATA Ehrh. Genetics, 65(3), 457–471.
Robbins W., n.d. Bergamot Mint Essential Oil, AromaWeb Website available at https://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/bergamot-mint-oil.asp <accessed 01/03/2018>