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The Story of Citrus Bergamot


December 6, 2019 By ominutrition

Calabria is one of Italy’s most remote, rugged, and romantic regions. Situated at the southern tip of the country—the boot’s toe, if you will—it’s a place where rocky cliffs plunge down to a turquoise sea and the ever-golden sun sets picturesque stone villages aglow. It’s also where 90 percent of the world’s supply of citrus bergamot grows, in green, hilly groves atop miles of windswept coastline.

Citrus bergamot is a truly unique fruit. The size of an orange, but bitter-tasting and yellow-green in color, it yields an aromatic essential oil that has been prized for centuries as a key ingredient in traditional cologne as well as Earl Grey tea. Just a few years ago, it was discovered that powerfully antioxidant flavonoids derived from citrus bergamot can lower cholesterol and improve heart health, but it turns out that this juicy wonder has even more amazing properties for human health and beauty.

When OMI founder Naomi Whittell visited Calabria and met Dr. Elzbieta Janda, a molecular biologist at the University of Magna Graecia and one of the world’s foremost autophagy experts, she learned something truly groundbreaking: the citrus bergamot’s pith (the part inside the peel that’s usually thrown away) contains remarkable molecules that can help skin cells eliminate aging toxins and reverse the damage that makes us look older. Inspired by Dr. Janda’s fascinating research, Naomi had the idea to create a skincare line that could change the way we age.

“Autophagy is about recycling and cleaning, getting rid of the rubbish inside the cells,” says Janda, who has led pioneering studies demonstrating the way that citrus bergamot activates autophagy in the liver cells and brain. “But it’s a complicated subject, because it’s not just about recycling the biological materials. There’s much more. I think that autophagy is important in cell communication, and many other functions that we’re going to continue to learn about.”

When autophagy is stimulated in a skin cell, which citrus bergamot is scientifically proven to do, it reprograms the cell to act younger (studies have shown activating autophagy can enable 60-year-old skin to behave as young as 28!), while also working to reduce inflammation induced by environmental irritants, toxins, and pathogens. Recent studies have also shown autophagy to be vital for skin barrier function, enabling cells to maintain optimum hydration levels. Naomi understood that by harnessing this, she could bring something totally new to the world of skincare.

She sought out the expertise of Dr. Richard Wang, PHD, a dermatologist and leading researcher at the Center for Autophagy Research at the University of Texas Southwestern, one of the world’s pre-eminent autophagy research centers. Together, they identified a blend of active ingredients that could supercharge citrus bergamot’s autophagy-inducing prowess. This became OMI’s Cellular Rejuvenation Complex, the citrus bergamot complex that lies at the heart of every single product in the OMI line. Clinically proven to activate autophagy and stimulate cells to detoxify and self-repair, this complex is the first of its kind—born from a beautiful, potent fruit, informed by Nobel Prize- winning science, and developed to the highest standards of purity and efficacy to bring radiant beauty to your skin.