Bergamot (citrus bergamia) is best known for lending its strong flavor to Earl Grey tea. But, within its herbal family is another species of bergamot called Monarda (also known as bee balm, oswego, and horse mint) which has strong antiseptic properties within the stalks, leaves, and flowers. These are the plants to grow if you want your own herbarium centered on oral health.
As a bonus, Monarda plants make a perfect companion to tomatoes in the flowerbed, as they’re said to improve both flavor and quality of tomatoes. Monarda is safe for human consumption and easy to cultivate. It grows outdoors between summer and early fall. You can also buy it as a dried herb directly from growers; this saves you a step because the herb is ready to be used as a tea.
The history of Bergamot’s use for oral health
The Blackfeet Indians have long recognized this antiseptic power, using poultices made from the plant to treat topical infections. They also prepared a tea (I guess you could say the earliest Earl Grey) from the Monarda sub-species, fistulosa and didyma, to treat mouth ulcers and throat infection. This is because, like thyme, Monarda bergamot is the source of thymol, (a main antiseptic ingredient in most commercial mouthwashes). It helps to reduce the germs that cause bad breath, and can help to relieve oral ulcers or sores as a part of your oral care regimen.
Make a tea
For treating common ailments like cough and headaches, the bergamot herb tea is a good natural alternative to the usual allopathic pills that we pop. The steam from the tea leaves in boiling water may be inhaled to clear sinus and colds. Not only that, it also helps the digestive system.
As mentioned earlier, bergamot tea has been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years. However, in modern medicine also, dentists now commonly suggest its use as it contains the aromatic and antiseptic thymol. Since you’ll be using bergamot herbal tea for its medicinal benefits, it is advised to consume in moderation.
To steep the tea, just use the 1-to-1-to1 ratio: one teaspoon of herbs and one cup of water per one serving of tea, then wait for ten minutes while the tea steeps. This is a good primer for any herbal tea, though you could use more than one spoonful of herbs if you want a stronger tea. However, if make it too strong, it’s a good idea to sweeten it with some honey.
How to make Bergamot mouthwash at home:
3/4 cup vodka
20 drops lemon essential oil
1 1/4 cup distilled water
30 drops bergamot essential oil
Directions: Combine the vodka with the essential oils in a bottle, shake well then allow to sit for 1 week. Shake once a day. When ready to use it , dilute the mix with 3 parts water/ 1 part mixture. Use it as a gargle or mouth rinse. Do Not Drink.
Source: Pioneer Thinking
Creating a natural mouthwash without harsh chemicals and fluoride is a good thing to do for your one set of teeth.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.