Yes, I've seen it too. Everyone is drinking celery juice and either claiming a health miracle has happened or in most cases, taking a "I saw this on Instagram, it looks like a miracle. Watch me drink this juice and reverse my aging process!" approach.
I have seen a lot of health trends come and go in the last decade that I've been in this field. However, I am not sure I've seen anything hit so fast, and so wide, and with such a limited amount of (read: none) actual evidence. It's rather peculiar. Since I am now receiving nearly daily private messages asking for my thoughts on the subject, I thought this would be the best approach.
Is Celery Juice Really The Cure For Everything?
Here I break down the real deal on celery juice.
Now, this isn't to totally dissuade anyone from trying it, but perhaps invite you to think critically as to whether this is the best way to spend an extra $3 -$8/day (or up to $56/week) plus the time it takes to clean, juice and then clean your juicer.
I am the last person to tell anyone not to do something that could potentially be beneficial. However, I also often look to how we can maximize our efforts when it comes to health habits, which is why this one has me scratching my head a little.
How Did The Celery Juice Craze Start?
The celery juice movement was started by a health expert who calls himself the "Medical Medium". He intuits his health advice, and has so since he was a child. I too often intuit health issues, or more often, health questions to ask. I just find it curious that so many people have hopped on to this guidance without knowing much beyond the claims being made on social media.
Medical Medium has written a lengthy post that details how "Celery is truly the savior when it comes to chronic illness" and that he's "seen thousands of people who suffer from chronic and mystery illness restore their health by drinking 16 ounces of celery juice daily on an empty stomach." There isn't a single reference in the post or in any of his articles for that matter. That's not to say it's all wrong and misleading; only that there is nothing to back up the claims being made.
Celery juice is part of a bigger protocol that Medical Medium recommends. After the initial publishing of this, many of you came forward to share how his protocols have helped you. I am thrilled to hear that!
I have been challenged for a decade about how I healed my auto-immune disease, and was told by dozens of experts that what I was attempting to do was impossible. I do believe when it comes to health that the guidance can come from anywhere and that often we shouldn't knock it until we try it.
That being said, there will never be one single health habit or 'savior' that will transform you or your health.
I reached out to a few people who claim to be among these people that suffered from chronic illness and had their health restored with celery juice. My two main questions were:
- Did you make any other diet or lifestyle changes in addition to adding celery juice when you started seeing benefits?
- Was the celery juice in addition to usual beverage intake and/or did it replace any beverage(s)?
As so many of you have shared, the results you have had with celery juice, were due to it being part of a more complete protocol. The celery juice, however, as happens with health trends, has been taken well out of context.
Are There Unique Health Benefits To Celery Juice?
Despite a lot of claims and anecdotal proclamations, research on celery juice really does not exist, yet. I found just a couple of studies on animals – one showed that it could improve sperm production in male rats and another that it may protect against oxidative stress. Perhaps with the current popularity, the research may start to happen.
Purported Health Benefits of Celery Juice
- improved digestion
- a reduction in inflammation
- improved autoimmune disease symptoms
- better immunity
- greater cardiovascular health
- clearer skin
While there isn't a wealth of research on celery juice, there are known benefits to celery, celery seed, celery root and celery oil. You can read more abstracts about the health benefits of celery here, but for example:
- Celery's wide range of antioxidants, including coumaric acid, ferulic acid, apigenin, luteolin, tannin, saponin, and kaempferol help to reduce free radical damage in the body. Oxidative damage can lead to a variety of inflammatory conditions, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
- Animal research suggests that celery extracts can help reduce gastric ulcers, protect intestinal mucosa and inhibit gastric cancer progression.
- Two of celery's flavonoids, luteolin and quercetin, can suppress pancreatic cancer cell growth.
- Apigenin, another flavonoid in celery, can boost the immune system and induce cancer cell death in both human and animal models.
- Celery has high levels of furanocoumarins, which can help inhibit carcinogens.
- It can help reduce blood glucose levels in diabetics.
- Vegetables such as celery can help prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce hypertension. (Note that fibre plays an important role in cardiovascular health and digestion, which you are not getting with celery juice.)
This might lead to the conclusion that high concentrated doses of these nutrients in the form of highly absorbable juice daily on an empty stomach might boost some nutrient levels.
And maybe celery juice does do this – but we don't know for sure.
Important Note: Celery Is Part of The Dirty Dozen
Whenever I teach classes about juicing I stress the importance of using organic produce, as the chemical load in conventional produce is concentrated when we are juicing. Celery is #10 on the Dirty Dozen List in the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. How many people drinking celery juice daily are using organics?
What About Cucumber Juice Or, Um, Water?
Or carrot juice? Or romaine lettuce juice? Non-starchy vegetables are all exceptionally nutrient rich. Hydration matters and combine that with nutrient density and we have a winning combination.
I am a big proponent of green juices – the darker and greener the juice, the more I love it. Juicing can help us take in a concentration of nutrients – more than we could eat or put into a smoothie – and it's easy to digest, having a positive effect on our microbiome. Why is celery juice being put on a pedestal as the only juice that is beneficial for health? I have been unable to find concrete answers to this question, given the wide variety of conditions celery juice is assumed able to resolve.
Could Water Achieve the Same Results?
The recommendation for the celery juice craze is to drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Many of us are dehydrated, which can lead to some undesirable health effects.
We need a variety of foods and nutrients in our diets. There really isn't any one food that I recommend people must consume every day – except water. Perhaps if we started off our day with a glass of water, or water with lemon, or water with fresh herbs, or water with fruit added to it, we would notice the same results as we would after drinking celery juice.
What If We just Acted Like People Who Drank Celery Juice?
As I've said, I love cheerleading for new healthy habits. But I also like to find habits that are sustainable, that make sense and that can easily become part of our everyday life ongoing (more on this below). I have seen the posts on social media about everyone's claims of how they have healed with celery juice. I have no doubt they have experienced wonderful health benefit, but I can't help but also wonder if juicing celery every morning led to other beneficial habits.
Maybe by drinking 16oz of celery juice, they were no longer drinking coffee, or they were taking some time to have breakfast after their juice, or being more mindful of what they ate throughout the day. Maybe the act of washing, cutting, and juicing celery was in and of itself a meditation that calmed the nerves and then rapidly hydrated the body. Perhaps that flush of liquid first thing in the morning also helped with better elimination, which all on its own could improve gut health, digestion and skin health.
Would it be possible to get the same benefits, that those drinking celery juice are getting, simply by drinking 16 oz of clean water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and being mindful of our food intake and lifestyle habits for the rest of the day?
Is Celery Juice Just A Fad?
I think so. I think it's a fad that many, many, many people are trying and will try, but that only a very small minority will continue doing. For every diet trend out there, there will be the 10% who have amazing results and tell the world about it. There will be 10% who will have adverse affects and you likely won't hear from them. And there will be the majority, the 80%, who maybe have a mild result and may or may not share what they're doing.
How can I say that this celery juice thing is just a fad? The reason is that it can't last. It can't be sustained.
When I look at and evaluate health trends, I ask the following basic questions:
- Can someone do this ongoing for five years? If not, I think of it as a therapeutic measure in which case, it may not be beneficial or even necessary for most.
- Is this something that could be sustainable financially?
- Is this a health trend that could be sustainable if everyone on the planet started trying it? Like, would we see a massive celery shortage and suddenly a fresh head of organic celery becomes a sought after item?
- Is it cost effective?
- Can there be a simpler solution that garners similar results?
I'm always skeptical when someone claims that a certain trend, or single food is a 'miracle', as the Medical Medium claims about celery juice. There is no one thing in isolation that will boost our health – it's the collection of health habits that we practice. Dietary choices, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, human connections, being in nature and more all play a role.
If celery juice is working for you, I am thrilled that you are finding benefit and would love for you to share your experience in the comments below.
For everyone else thinking about trying it, please keep it all in perspective. Celery juice or any other single action, food, or supplement on its own is not going to be the sweeping solution to good health. It can, however, be part of a greater plan. It seems like this is being lost for a lot of people who are putting all their eggs in the celery juice basket, and chasing their 16 ounces with the same conventional diet and lifestyle practices that might be the greater health challenge to overcome.
Juicing one head of organic celery juice everyday for a month will cost around $200 (at least in Canada in the winter). I can't help but feel that we might see greater impact by doing a lot of other things. Discussing the ecological footprint of this habit is a topic for another day, though you can get a taste of it here.
Photo: iStock Karisssa