The Romans awarded wreaths of celery to winners of sporting events. Ancient Asian cultures harvested wild celery and brewed it to produce a tonic used for stomach difficulties and general vitality. Celery garlands were found inside tombs of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. While many other cultures used wild celery as a medicinal herb, cultivated celery is mentioned being grown in France in 1623, and celery began being grown commercially in the U.S. in the 1880s.
The famous Naturopath, Dr. Paavo Airola, recommended celery for blood purification, detoxification and for building immunity. Dr. Bernard Jensen has recommended it for neutralizing rheumatic acids within the body, detoxification, fevers, nervous conditions and cardiovascular conditions.
Celery is a member of the parsley family. It contains a host of nutrients, including potassium, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate and vitamin B6. It also contains a number of phytonutrients. Notably celery is also rich in sulfur, which has been shown to be useful for joint conditions.
One Chinese remedy celery has been used for is to lower blood pressure. Dr. Quang Le and Dr. William Elliott from the University of Chicago found that one of celery’s phytonutrients, 3-n-butyl phthalide, reduced blood pressure by 13-14% by eating the equivalent of four stalks per day. Dr. Le also tried this remedy himself and found that his blood pressure went from 158/96 to 118/82.
Celery also contains compounds called acetylenics. Acetylenics have been shown in several studies to inhibit tumor growth (Siddiq and Dembitsky 2008).
Celery also contains phenolic acids. Phenolic acids provide protection against free radical oxidative damage, and slow inflammation. Oxidative free radical damage is what causes arteriosclerosis, stroke, liver damage and heart disease in general. In a study done by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (Yao et al. 2010), 11 cultivars of celery from two different species were examined for their phenolic acid composition. The phenols found in the celeries included caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, and ferulic acid. P-coumaric acid was the most abundant phenolic acid found amongst the samples. They also found several flavonoids, including apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferoland.
Furthermore, the researchers found that the phenols and flavonoids in celery exhibited significant antioxidant potency. Of the 11 cultivars studied, Shengjie celery had the highest antioxidant activity, and the Tropica variety had the lowest levels of antioxidant potentcy.
Just as proposed by Dr. Airola decades earlier, the phenolic acids in celery stimulate phenolsulfotransferases (PSTs) within the body. PSTs are detoxifying metabolic enzymes that stimulate the removal of toxic compounds, including pharmaceutical chemicals and environmental chemicals. In a study by researchers from Taiwan’s National Chung Hsing University (Yeh and Yen 2005), phenolic acids were shown to directly increase the levels and activities of PST-P within the body. The study also compared the PST stimulation properties of 20 different vegetables. Celery was among the top five (along with asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and eggplant,) that stimulated PST-P the most among human HepG2 cells.
Celery is best eaten raw, but it can also be juiced and put into soups. Each of these methods will preserve most of the phytonutrient levels. A vegetable-barley soup with sliced celery is also delicious. Put the sliced fresh celery into the pot only after the barley has been cooked enough to be soft. After 10 more minutes on a low flame, the celery will be softened enough to eat, but not overcooked.
Celery also makes a fun and great snack for kids when combined with peanut butter and/or cream cheese. Just spread unsweetened natural peanut butter and/or fresh cream cheese into the chamber of the stalk to the brim and hand it over. It makes a delicious, satisfying and nutritious snack that your child will never forget.
This information is for research purposes and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Be sure to consult your health professional if you suspect you or your family members have any disease, and before making any significant changes to your diet, lifestyle or supplements.
Siddiq A, Dembitsky V. Acetylenic anticancer agents. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2008 Feb;8(2):132-70.
Yao Y, Sang W, Zhou M, Ren G. Phenolic composition and antioxidant activities of 11 celery cultivars. J Food Sci. 2010 Jan-Feb;75(1):C9-13.
Yeh CT, Yen GC. Effect of vegetables on human phenolsulfotransferases in relation to their antioxidant activity and total phenolics. Free Radic Res. 2005 Aug;39(8):893-904.
Yeager S. Food Remedies. Rodale Press, 1998.
Airola P. How to Get Well. Health Plus Publishers, 1974.
Jensen B. Foods that Heal. Avery Publishing, 1993.