Celery juice has become all the rage since the publication of Medical Medium’s books. One of the staples of the book, Williams promotes it as a superfood that can detox the body and heal the gut if juiced first thing in the morning on am empty stomach. I have nothing personally against celery, but it wouldn’t be something I would normally drink by itself. However, when a number of my patients kept singing its praises, my interest was piqued. And if you’re like me, you’ve heard all the hype about how it can heal the gut lining, help digestion, increase hydrochloric acid and enzyme production, decrease joint pain, detox the bloodstream and liver and is anti-pathogenic. I was a bit skeptical, so rather than accept the fad, I dove into the SCIENCE of celery. Was the placebo effect in full force or was there something about celery that we should be looking more into?
Disclaimer: Sadly, there ain’t a lot of money in studying nature so most of the research on celery is in animal models.
Celery and Science
Celery is a plant from the apiaceae family and has been studied by several scientists. It contains some pretty magical compounds like ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, apigenin, tannins, saponins, luteolin, and kaempferol all of which have powerful antioxidant properties. This is imperative to removing excess free radicals and support mitochondrial health.
A number of studies done on rats confirm that celery can increase spermatogenesis (thats sperm count, guys) in male rats as well as fertility. For example, a study in India in 2014 took Thirty-two male Wistar rats were divided into four groups of eight rats each. The control group did not receive any medication, one group received normal saline only, and the last two groups received celery extract orally in dosages of 100 and 200 mg/kg/BW once every two days for 60 days. What did they find? There was a significant increase in the sperm count. The study concluded that celery can increase spermatogenesis in male rats, but has no destructive effects on testicular tissue. Other studies in rats have found increased fertility in female rats.
Whats super interesting is that in a study from 1998, rats given the essential oil extracts from the apiaceae (celery) family displayed a decreased pain reaction when withdrawing their paw from a hot plate. So if we assume a similar reaction from humans, there may be some anti inflammatory benefit.
3. Chemo Side Effects
In a study published in 2010 in the Journal, Molecules, celery was found to infer a protective benefit on rats treated with the chemotherapeutic agent, doxorubicin. What researchers found was that rats had decreased antioxidant levels, specifically glutathione, after receiving chemo. This is what we would expect in human subjects as well. But after receiving doxorubicin and the leaves and root of celery, rats had higher antioxidants like glutathione and it was inferred that celery likely has anti oxidative effects.
4. High Blood Sugars
Celery has also long been studied for its possible lipid and blood sugar balancing effects. None on humans sadly, but another study on rats in 2012 concluded that n-butanol extracts from celery seed has significant potential for the treatment of diabetic rats and also improving antioxidant enzymes in diabetic rats.
5. High Blood Pressure
Celery seed extracts are often put into a pill and sold in nutraceutical stores for hypertension, or high blood pressure. As mentioned before, there are lots of magical compounds in celery, but the one responsible for lowering blood pressure is L-3-n-butylphtalide, or 3nb. It produces a dilating, calming effect on arteries that lower blood pressure. This appears to occur, at least in part, by blocking or antagonizing the flow of calcium into muscle cells lining blood vessels—similar to the action performed by calcium channel blocking drugs.
6, Healing the Gut Lining and the Microbiome Though?
So is there any merit to what Medical Medium claims is true? I will tell you that, personally, as a doctor that treats IBS, Crohn’s, Candida, acid reflux, and other hosts of gut issues, celery juice has become popular amongst my patients. What I have seen anecdotally has been great improvement with most patients who have been consistent with juicing 16 ounces each morning on an empty stomach for at least one month. But keep in mind, no recipe is right for everyone, just like no pill is right for everyone.
In a study published in 2010 in Pharmaceutical Biology, the antioxidants in celery improved the stomach lining and decreased ulcers in rats who were pretreated with it. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests eating celery could reduce the risk of gastritis, as it appears the vegetable’s flavonoids may help halt the growth of negative bacterial colonies in the gut..
Other Interesting Deets About Celery
The most prevalent essential oil seems to be limonene, which interestingly enough, can be found elsewhere, such as marijuana or lemons.
As far as other nutrients go, celery has 30% of the RDA of vitamin K and modest amounts of magnesium and potassium which is also how it helps to normalize blood pressure. It is also about 95% water and is extremely alkaline. For this reason, it is often included in acid reflux protocols. ‘Celery also provides folate, fiber and molybdenum.
It is higher in sodium than other veggies, but is still NOT a high sodium food and will not cause a problem.
Why Does Celery Bloat Me?
Celery has a high fiber content and can sometimes be difficult for some people to digest. If you have trouble with raw vegetables, this may be no different. Celery is a natural diuretic, so should help move things out for you. If you get bloated with raw celery, try cooking it.
Technically, juicing celery should be removing a large portion of the fiber, so that digestion is not activated much and the body can easily recognize and break down the one vegetable. This is the purpose of juicing it alone.
Who Should Be Cautious When Drinking Celery Juice?
High amounts of celery have the potential to cause a goiter as it can interfere with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland, so people with an uncontrolled thyroid please know that risk. It does not mean you should not drink it, but at least be aware.
Rules for Getting the Most Antioxidant Ability from Your Celery
- Juice the celery as fresh as possible. Celery remains good in the fridge for approximately five days, after which, a significant portion of antioxidants begin to breakdown. Once the juice is made, try to drink it within four hours.
- Juice it rather than eat or blend it. Why? You would not want to sit and eat eight stalks of celery, but that could easily be juiced and drank. In the case of blending, loads of fiber in the drink makes it more of a smoothie, which can be more difficult to digest
- Always buy organic. Pesticides on your food ain’t cool!
Give celery juice one month before you give up!
Although I believe many vegetables can infer similar benefits, I do agree in the power of celery after what I have witnessed.
One of my patients continued the practice of drinking organic celery juice on an empty stomach each morning for 3 months and felt energy, got rid of her bloating and indigestion and healed her acid reflux. Although not the magic bullet, in combination with a tailored gut health plan that includes enzymes, probiotics, and other healing supplements, celery can be a powerful adjunct.
J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct;22(4):1029-1034. doi: 10.1177/2156587217717415. Epub 2017 Jul 13.A Review of the Antioxidant Activity of Celery ( Apium graveolens L).