What is it?
Celery seed comes, of course, from the familiar Celery as used in salads, cooking etc. The seeds/fruits of Celery contain an abundance of essential oils which are a large part of its therapeutic action. Celery’s life cycle is usually two years and both the root (as celeriac) and stalks are widely used in cuisine.
How has it been used?
Celery as a food has for a long time been valued as a spring antidote after the heavy, salty foods of winter. The seeds are particularly cleansing and ‘alkalising’ to the body and it is this action that has made Celery so popular in times past for conditions associated to ‘acidity’, such as arthritis and rheumatism.
Celery has also been a strong traditional treatment for gout and for kidney stones, being seen as able to help flush out impurities from the body. Celery as a food and as a medicine has historically been used to sweeten the breath and to help the ‘fat to become lean’. The image of a stick of celery on a dieter's plate has probably been with us for centuries if not millennia.
Celery has been recommended to increase the milk in nursing mothers but it is recommended to avoid it in large amounts during pregnancy as it is thought to be a stimulant to the uterus.
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Science on Celery
~ In a clinical trial in Australia, 15 patients with long-standing rheumatic pain received Celery seed extract over 12 weeks. Parameters measured included usual pain and current pain and patients reported significant reductions in pain intensity and also that the number of joints at which pain was experienced was significantly decreased over each 3 week period that the study was reviewed. Australian Patent 994699 10-A, Jan 1995)
~ Celery seed infused in water demonstrated a significant reduction in serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in a model of hyperlipidaemia (Tsi D, Das NP, Tan KH: Planta Medica; 61(1):1995, 18-21)
~ Celery seed oil administered orally increased liver tissue regeneration and methanolic extract of celery seed demonstrated significant hepatoprotective activity after oral administration in panadol induced hepatotoxicity. (Singh A, Handa SS: J Ethnopharmacology 49(3):119-126, 1995)
Safety of Celery
Celery is regarded as an extremely safe herb that can be used by all ages including pregnant and breastfeeding women. A person who has kidney disease may find strong celery seed extracts to be aggravating as it contains an essential oil (terpenes and phthalides, especially 3-n-butyl) that has potent effects on stimulating kidney cells.
Note that if intending to use a course of Celery seed as a medicine it is important to obtain the seed from a trusted supplier of herbal medicines as many Celery seeds are sprayed with fungicides and would be unwise to use internally in high doses.
See further note about cleansing reactions below*
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I rate Celery extremely highly for its ability to help the kidneys to flush out acidic waste products and have used it in a great many formulas for aching, painful joints or a stiff, unyielding muscular-skeletal condition.
In some cases, where there is an acute inflammation such as one might find in an attack of gout or polymyalgia rheumatica, it can be best to use a short, sharp dose of Celery to help get a job done and then rest it until needed again - see the recipe below for how I go about that.
For anyone reading this who might be studying herbal medicine or who maybe just wants to deepen their understanding and relationship with these great plant allies there is an ancient, rather excellent practice I encourage you to pick up whereby you take a dose of the herb's tea or tincture and then listen closely to your body's responses with a quiet and receptive mind.
In the case of Celery, at least speaking for myself, I find it a compelling but not altogether unpleasant taste and I can feel how, whilst it is a rather gentle remedy, it nevertheless caries a potent and palpable action deep into the body in general and the kidneys in particular. If anyone needs convincing of this then I challenge them to drink a good dose of Celery seed tincture or tea and see if they don't get a considerable amount of cleansing through their kidneys for some time afterwards!
Celery is certainly a cleansing herb and it should be noted that this is a good likelihood that a person using a strong dose of it for a while will clearly notice its effects with or without a quiet mind! It is always hard to go through a process of change, even when it is what we need, and there can come a point a few days into a course of Celery when you might feel like it is pushing you harder than you like and you suddenly develop an aversion to taking the medicine by way of response. My counsel, in such a situation, would be to push harder, get through it! Your body is becoming more alkaline and your joints, your blood and even your mind is adapting to this change in the state of affairs. Make sure you eat a highly alkaline, cleansing diet (more info about that here) and I think you will find that in as little as 1 or 2 days you will go through a shift that has your body feeling less stiff and more flexible. This is the process of healing with Nature; things often have to go through a kind of change before they get better. After you get through that 'second stage' then it will often be fine to let the Celery seed go. At least in my own experience this is not a herb that I often use for long...
Celery seed combines perfectly with Devil's claw for hard arthritic joints, with Juniper berry for kidney stress and acidic blood and with Wild Yam for a stiff, congested general condition.
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Much of the information here about the traditional uses of Celery is consistent with the model of thinking whereby one may treat problem A with plant B. There is value in this approach, especially in how it helps us pass on useful knowledge to one another, but it falls short in one vital area; and that is that people are not all cut from the same cloth! Something that works brilliantly for one person may do less for another -- why is this?
The reason is that people vary in their constitutions as to whether they are more hot or cool and at the same time more dry or damp; more info about this here.
There is an old wisdom in treating the person first and the condition second. and in this light Celery can particularly offer its benefits when a cleansing action is needed in the 'cycle of healing' - something that is discussed here and shown in a chart here.
Celery seed recipe for Gout
Place 15 grams (approx half an ounce) of organic, unsprayed Celery seed in a saucepan with 1 large cup of water.
Briefly bring the Celery seeds to the boil, cover the saucepan and then allow the mixture to cool for about 5-7 minutes, then strain off the liquid from the seeds and drink. You may find it helpful to dilute it with some cool water if it is too hot or too thick to be easily drunk nice and quickly (this is not a tea you drink for pleasure!)
You can repeat this treatment as often as required and you can do it twice or a maximum of 3 times a day if things are particularly bad but note that it still may take up to 48 hours to see a major turnaround with the gout.
I only use this tea during acute attacks of Gout, which you can read more about here. Drink plenty of water whilst you are using it and keep to a cleansing diet at the same time, more detailed info about how to do that here
Please understand that I cannot personally advise you, including on products or dosage, without seeing you in my clinic but ideas
on how you might find a good herbalist in your area are here.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!
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