Wild bergamot or (more commonly known as bee balm) descends from the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is a perennial that can grow to a height of one to three feet. It grows naturally in upland woods, thickets or prairies. According to GardenGuides.com, wild bergamot has branched, hairy stems with opposing leaves. The leaves are “petiolate and deltoid-lanceolate to lanceolate and slightly toothed”. It also has gray-green foliage with flowers ranging in color from white, red, pink and purple.
Wild Bergamot Tea
The Oswego Indians first introduced wild bergamot to American colonists during the time of the Boston Tea Party. Wild bergamot replaced the tea thrown into the Atlantic Ocean during the Boston Tea Party. You can make Oswego tea by soaking young bergamot leaves in boiling water for at least fifteen minutes. Use five to six leaves per eight ounces of water. The young leaves can also be used in vegetable salads, fruits salads, fruit drinks, and to add flavor to the meat. Alternative Nature Online Herbal recommends that wild bergamot tea can be used to treat the following. ” Colds, catarrh, headaches, gastric disorders, fevers, sore throats, flatulence, nausea, menstrual cramping, and insomnia.”
Medicinal uses of Oil of Thyme and Thymol
Wild bergamot is the source of thyme essential oil. Make the essential oil from dried leaves, roots and/or flowers. Once you make the oil, then you can apply externally or used in a diffuser. External applications of oil of thyme are to relieve acne and various other skin eruptions. According to LiveStrong, oil of thyme can be used to “relieve stress and anxiety”. Simply “adding several drops of bergamot oil to a warm bath or diffusing the scent through the air…”. The oil can also be used to treat cold sores and acne since it has antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic and immune stimulant properties.
Livestrong also quotes the University of Florida saying that extractable thymol from wild bergamot is an “effective pesticide, killing plant pathogens when used as a soil fumigant.” Thymol also has antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties. You can make poultice can out of extractable thymol, which can relieve headaches. If you cannot make a poultice, then chewing the young leaves will work just as well.
Don’t confuse wild bergamot with the bergamot tree, native to Asia, which bears a small citrus fruit. Bergamot essential oil comes from the bergamot tree.