I recently learned that there has been a celery juicing craze going on. My patients teach me a lot and this is no exception. After a few patient's brought this up in one week I decided I needed to investigate. The origination of this new fad is Anthony William, a man who is often referred to as “The Medical Medium”. He has several books out and touts the ‘health benefits’ of drinking 16oz of celery juice every morning on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before breakfast. I was skeptical this would have any health benefits and a little worried about drinking such a ‘cold’ beverage during the middle of the Minnesota winter. With a healthy dose of skepticism I decided to give it a try.
Day 1: About 30 minutes after drinking the celery juice I had to run to the bathroom three times. After about 4 hours my system felt very flushed out.
Day 2: I was working at Self Care Sunday with Wellness Minneapolis during Day 2 and really couldn’t afford to be running to the bathroom. I woke up at 6:30am, drank the celery juice, and got back in to bed. I didn’t eat breakfast until about 2 hours later and by some miracle I felt alright during day 2.
Day 3: I waited about 45 minutes after the juice to have breakfast and was plagued with frequent trips to the bathroom all day.
Day 4: Similar issue with upset stomach and urgent bathroom trips. I can’t justify doing something every day that causes diarrhea, so I stopped before my goal of 7 days.
Overall, I didn’t notice any positive health benefits but I also only followed this plan for 4 days.
I like to take a scientific approach to understanding how food impacts our body so I opened up my herbal medicine books and turned to PubMed to learn more. I was also curious what other perspectives I could gather on this topic so I reached out to some providers at Wellness Minneapolis. Crystalin Montgomery, ND, LAc and Jules Dirsa, LAc weighed in on the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective. Dr. Montgomery reported she would only recommend this for people who have ‘hot’ constitutions and need to clear excess ‘heat’ and ‘phlegm’. Jules reported that a large amount of raw celery juice would be hard on the TCM spleen because it is so cooling. Vanashree Belgamwar, BAMS, is an Ayurvedic practitioner and shared her unique perspective.
“From am Ayurvedic stand point juicing is not recommended as it is raw and cold- opposite to the qualities of agni (digestive fire). If it’s a Pitta constitution with high metabolism or teekshna Agni then they will see benefit with this, though it’s not ideal. Also, celery increases Vata and pacifies Pitta and Kapha as it’s astringent and cooling. It is best to not consume raw vegetables during winter. Kapha constitution may see a slight change in weight whereas Vata people would have horrible gas and bloating. I recently had few clients who are doing this celery juice cleanse and all mostly had a negative experience. Their digestion worsened and so they came to see me to fix it! So in short, Ayurveda does not recommend celery juice at all!”
In botanical medicine, celery is an excellent diuretic and has some blood pressure reducing properties. I was taught that just 4 stalks of whole celery consumed daily can cause a mild drop in blood pressure. Pretty cool! Celery contains compounds such as caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, apigenin, luteolin, tannin, saponin, and kaempfero which have powerful antioxidant properties to remove free radicals (PMID: 28701046).My favorite discovery while digging up articles on celery was about the compound butylphthalid. Butylphthalid (3-n-butylphthalide or NBP) may be useful in the treatment of hypertension and may have neuroprotective effects based on animal studies. The racemic 3-n-butylphthalide (dl- NBP) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration of China for the treatment of ischemic stroke in 2002! A number of clinical studies indicated that NBP not only improved the symptoms of ischemic stroke, but also contributed to the long-term recovery (PMID:29895257) Aren’t plants incredible?
There are some basic nutritional reasons why you might want to skip the celery juice craze.
Celery is high in vitamin K and 16oz of celery juice exceeds the RDA for vitamin K. This is dangerous for anyone taking a vitamin K dependent blood thinner such as warfarin.
Celery is a moderately high latex food so if you have a sensitivity to latex, celery juice might not sit well with you.
Celery is high in oxalates which will be present in the celery juice. If you are prone to kidney stones, have interstitial cystitis or are just sensitive to oxalates skip the celery juice.
In summary, plants have incredible healing properties. If we picked another vegetable or fruit to look at we will find a whole host of health benefits. Is celery special? Is celery juice going to change your life? Probably not. If you aren’t already eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetable and you start drinking celery juice every morning, you might feel better. But, instead of focusing on juicing one vegetable, think about increasing your intake of a variety of vegetables. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the incredible and unique compounds found in plants and diversity is key. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes;
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” - Michael Pollan.