Celery seed

Overview

Not many people in the Western world know about celery seed, although it has been used as medicine for thousands of years in other parts of the world. During ancient times, Indian Ayurvedic medicine used celery seed to treat colds, flu, water retention, poor digestion, different types of arthritis, and certain diseases of the liver and spleen.

Today, celery seed is used mostly as a diuretic, meaning it helps your body get rid of too much water by increasing urine output. Celery seed is also sometimes used for treating arthritis and gout, and to help reduce muscle spasms, calm the nerves, and reduce inflammation.

However, there are no scientific studies in people that show whether celery seed helps treat these conditions or any others. Studies do show that celery seeds act as a mosquito repellent.

A few animal studies suggest that celery seed extracts may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as protect the liver from damaging substances such as high doses of the pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol). But again, researchers don’t know whether that would be true in people.

In humans, researchers have found that people who eat a diet rich in lutein -- found in celery, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, and greens -- were less likely to develop colorectal cancer. However, celery was just one part of their diet. So no one knows whether it was celery, another food, or some combination of foods that lowered their risk of cancer.

Plant Description

The celery plant is slender and stands about 2 - 3 feet tall. It has 3 - 5 segmented leaves and flowers with small white petals. Celery seeds, which are found in the flowers, are very small, tan to dark brown, and have a strong, pleasant smell.

What's It Made Of?

Celery seeds contain several substances including volatile oils; flavonoids, antioxidants that give plants their colors and may protect cells from damage; coumarins, chemicals that help thin the blood; and linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid.

Available Forms

  • Fresh or dried seeds
  • Tablets
  • Capsules filled with celery seed oil
  • Celery seed extract

How to Take It

Pediatric

Scientists haven’t studied celery seeds in children, so it is not recommended for children under 18.

Adult

The dose depends on what you are takiong it for, and which form you are taking (celery seed oil capsules or tablets, extract, or whole celery seeds). Ask your doctor to help you determine the right dose.

Precautions

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can have side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

Pregnant women should not use celery seed because it may lead to uterine bleeding and muscle contractions in the uterus, which could cause miscarriage.

People with active kidney inflammation should not take celery seed.

Some people who are allergic to birch pollen may also be allergic to celery seed.

Some of the chemicals in celery stems and seeds can cause the skin to become very sensitive to the sun's UV rays. Use sunscreen or sunblock lotions.

Don’t take celery seeds from a garden packet. These seeds have usually been treated with chemicals.

Possible Interactions

Because there have been so few studies of celery seed, researchers don’t really know whether it interacts with other herbs and medications. However, people who take these medicines should ask their doctor before taking celery seed:

Diuretics (water pills) -- Celery seed also acts like a diuretic, so it could make the effects of these medications stronger, raising the risk of dehydration.

Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants and antiplatelets) -- Celery seed contains chemicals that may thin the blood. That could make the effects of these medications stronger, raising the risk of bleeding. Blood-thinners include aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and clopidogrel (Plavix).

Other medications -- Celery seed may interact with lithium, thyroid medications, and sedatives.

Supporting Research

Ahmed B, Alam T, Varshney M, Khan SA. Hepatoprotective activity of two plants belonging to the Apiaceae and the Euphorbiaceae family. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Mar;79(3):313-6.

Al-Howiriny T, Alsheikh A, Alqasoumi S, Al-Yahya M, ElTahir K, Rafatullah S. Gastric antiulcer, antisecretory and cytoprotective properties of celery (Apium graveolens) in rats. Pharm Biol. 2010 Jul;48(7):786-93.

Atta AH, Alkofahi A. Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of some Jordanian medicinal plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;60:117-124.

Banerjee S, Sharma R, Kale RK, Rao AR. Influence of certain essential oils on carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes and acid-soluble sulfhydryls in mouse liver. Nutr Cancer. 1994;21:263-269. Abstract.

Boffa MJ, Gilmour E, Ead RD. Case report. Celery soup causing severe phototoxicity during PUVA therapy [letter]. Br J Dermatol. 1996;135(2):334.

Cheung MC, Lin LY, Yu TH, Peng RY. Hypolipidemic and antioxidant activity of mountian celery seed essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 2008;56(11):3997-4003.

Choochote W. et al., Potential of crude seed extract of celery, Apium graveolens L., against the mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae). J Vector Ecol. 2004;29(2):340-6.

Heck AM, DeWitt BA, Lukes AL. Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2000;57(13):1221-1227.

Ko FN, Huang TF, Teng CM. Vasodilatory action mechanisms of apigenin isolated from Apium graveolens in rat thoracic aorta. Biochim Biophys Acta. November 14; 1991;1115:69-74.

Miller L. Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions. Arch Intern Med. 1988;158(20):2200-2211.

Singh A, Handa SS. Hepatoprotective activity of Apium graveolens and Hygrophila auriculata against paracetamol and thioacetamide intoxication in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995;49:119-126.

Slattery ML, Benson J, Curtin K, Ma K-N, Schaeffer D, Potter JD. Carotenoids and colon cancer. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71:575-582.

Sultana S, Ahmed S, Jahangir T, Sharma S. Inhibitory effect of celery seeds extract on chemically induced hepatocarcinogenesis: modulation of cell proliferation, metabolism and altered hepatic foci development. Cancer Lett. 2005;221(1):11-20.

Teng CM, Lee LG, Ko SN, et al. Inhibition of platelet aggregation by apigenin from Apium graveolens. Asia Pac J Pharmacol. 1985;3:85.

Tsi D, Das NP, Tan BK. Effects of aqueous celery (Apium graveolens) extract on lipid parameters of rats fed a high fat diet. Planta Med. 1995;61:18-21.

Tuetun B, et al., Mosquito repellency of the seeds of celery (Apium graveolens L.). Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2004;98(4):407-17.

Zheng GQ, Kenney PM, Zhang J, Lam LK. Chemoprevention of benzo[a]pyrene-induced forestomach cancer in mice by natural phthalides from celery seed oil. Nutr Cancer. 1993;19:77-86.

Zhou Y, Taylor B, Smith TJ, Liu ZP, Clench M, Davies NW, Rainsford KD. A novel compound from celery seed with a bactericidal effect against Helicobacter pylori. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2009 Aug;61(8):1067-77.

Alternative Names

Apium graveolens

Celery Seed

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 01/02/2011
  • Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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This page was last updated: May 7, 2013

         
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