Mythbusting Celery Juice: Superfood or Super Hype?

by JJ Virgin on September 4, 2019

To juice or not to juice… it’s one of the most popular questions popping into JJ’s Facebook and Instagram Lives by far – especially when it comes to celery! 

So is the wildly-popular celery juice trend, touted as “the most powerful medicine of our time,” the answer to all of the chronic health issues that have doctors stumped and their patients desperately looking for alternative solutions? Or is this an example of how the Internet can give a powerful voice to those who may be well-meaning but uneducated?

Let’s discuss how this whole thing got started, what the science shows, and when it’s a good idea to try celery juice. We’ll also go over the dark side of buying into this cure-all, and why it’s risky to jump onto any bandwagon that promotes a one-size-fits-all answer…

How did celery juice become the new kale?

It’s hard to bring up the celery juice craze without mentioning Anthony William, who also calls himself the “Medical Medium.” 

What makes this new kind of health guru fascinating are two interesting facts: 

1) He’s not a licensed or certified doctor or scientist, nor does he cite medical or scientific sources anywhere in his posts or on his website.

2) He claims to get all of his leading-edge health advice from a spiritual being that only he can detect and hear. He calls this being “Spirit of Compassion” or “Spirit” for short. 

Think John Edwards meets Dr. Oz, only without the successful TV show or medical license…

A sensational list of health claims, plus a few notable celebrity followers, sparked a social media frenzy of posts singing the praises of celery juice, claiming to heal everything from acne to migraines, and a bittersweet trend was born.

Should you try juicing celery?

Let’s sort the science from the hype! 

While the origin of the celery craze is exciting and intriguing, the actual science is the only reliable evidence we have to figure out whether drinking celery juice is worth the effort.

One note: a lot of the healing benefits of celery that are discussed in scientific research refer to celery leaf extract or celery seeds. Those don’t qualify as evidence because the celery juice trend emphasizes the absolute importance of drinking the juice from freshly squeezed stalks. That means the seeds are not included, and the leaves aren’t processed or concentrated as they are in extracts.

Here are a few of the health claims, followed by the data from scientific studies:

Detoxes the Liver 

Studies have shown that the leaves of celery protect the liver. However, there’s no evidence to support the idea that only juiced celery can give you those liver-friendly benefits. 

Also, those celery leaves weren’t used alone in scientific studies – chicory root and barley grains also contributed to the benefits in liver function and fat metabolism.1 In order to get the full detoxification benefits, you’ll need to invite other foods to the party.

If you’re looking to detox with celery, think about adding the chopped leaves to your next salad along with a handful of chicory greens, rather than juicing. However, keep in mind that it won’t function as well unless you also include other detoxifying foods in your diet.

Repairs Gut Issues 

Celery juice can increase stomach acid that naturally decreases as we age, which in turn, helps with protein digestion. In that way, there is some truth to the claim that celery juice helps support your gut.

Health-promoting plant compounds in celery (juiced or whole) known as “apigenin” and “quercetin” also have gut health benefits.However, apples, berries, parsley and broccoli are all great (and arguably, yummier) sources of these incredible plant compounds.

Celery (juiced or whole) also includes minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium that can support digestion. But here again, there are many other veggies that have the same effect. Examples include kale, avocado, and broccoli.

It’s also important to mention that whole celery stalks have the added benefit of an overlooked “superfood” here – humble fiber! The fiber in whole celery is an amazing source of food for your healthy gut flora, and that brings with it many energizing and health-boosting nutrients that are lost when you juice celery. 

Celery juice can help with gut health, but whole celery is an even better option. And if celery isn’t your idea of delicious, no worries! There are many other foods that offer the exact same benefits, including apples, berries, avocado, and leafy greens. 

Fights Infection

Although there are claims that celery juice can cure pathogens like H. pylori and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), celery juice is not the lone hero! 

Studies show that all cruciferous veggies, especially broccoli sprouts, are an amazing ally when it comes fighting H. pylori, an infection that can lead to stomach ulcers in some people.

In addition, the plant compound luteolin has been shown to help prevent the reactivation of EBV, a virus that can cause mononucleosis and other illnesses. While celery juice does contain luteolin, a better source of this good stuff is veggies like radicchio, sweet peppers, and chicory greens.5

The beneficial plant compound apigenin also has the ability to stop the reactivation of EBV. But if you want to maximize your dose, parsley is the clear winner over celery juice!6

While certain nutrients in celery juice can help with very specific viral issues, there’s no evidence it helps with other viruses or overall inflammation. You can also get better results from parsley, radicchio, and chicory greens – and whole is always better.

Stops Thyroid and Autoimmune Issues

There’s no scientific evidence to support the notion that celery juice improves thyroid or autoimmune health.

The minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes in almost all vegetables can be helpful for supporting the thyroid. But there are no scientific studies that confirm celery or celery juice is superior to any other plant sources of these nutrients.

One case report did find that drinking celery juice actually aggravated hyperthyroidism, but those effects were only observed in one person.7 While a study of one is usually not statistically significant, in this case it does an excellent job of disproving the idea of a “one-size-fits-all” solution…

If you have thyroid or autoimmune issues, start by consulting a qualified functional healthcare provider. Only include celery juice in your diet regularly once you confirm it won’t do you harm and has potential benefits for your body and needs.

When Celery Juicing Can Work… Sort Of

If Your Current Diet Is Unhealthy

The results that you get from drinking celery juice are all relative. 

If you’re currently eating donuts or muffins for breakfast and chasing them down with OJ or a syrupy-sweet cappuccino, swapping them out for celery juice in the morning is most likely going to be an improvement! And it makes sense to assume that you’ll see changes on the scale and in other areas of your health.

But if you’re already following a healthy diet – choosing low-sugar impact, whole foods; opting for organic; and staying away from processed, inflammatory foods – then celery juice may not be a good idea! It might surprise you to find out that celery juice actually has a relatively high concentration of sugar: it contains an estimated 11 grams of sugar per 8-ounce glass.

If you want to find out why juicing in general is a bad idea and how to detox and lose weight the right way, check out this blog.

If You Need Hydration and Electrolytes 

The additional health claims made about drinking celery juice, such as getting rid of migraines, clearing up eczema, boosting your mood, easing anxiety, and reducing chronic fatigue syndrome cannot be scientifically linked to celery juice. 

BUT – and this is a very important “BUT” – all of those ailments are firmly proven to be reversible with adequate hydration, and celery is 95% water! 

If being committed to celery juice means you get more fluids regularly, it’s bound to help! That’s because most people are chronically dehydrated, sometimes to dangerous levels. (Here’s a great blog post to find out how much water you need in a day.) 

Because your body is 70% water, when you don’t drink enough, it can cause poor cellular maintenance and regeneration. That can result in everything from weakness and fatigue to serious health symptoms.

If you want to experience the benefits of the electrolytes found in whole celery and celery juice, simply add a tiny pinch of Celtic sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice to your next glass of water, and you’ll have everything you need to upgrade your hydration.

No juicer or celery stalks necessary!

The Dark Side of Juicing Celery

It may also surprise you to know that there are some people who really shouldn’t be drinking celery juice. This is where I have a bone to pick with Anthony and Spirit because their advice is actually causing harm.

A Surprising Number of People Have a Food Sensitivity to Celery

Celery is one of the most common food intolerances to show up on food sensitivity testing. Advising people who have an intolerance to celery to drink it every day can cause chronic inflammation and serious health issues. 

Symptoms of a celery intolerance can include hives or swelling, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and vomiting or diarrhea, among others.

Celery Juice Is High in Oxalates

Oxalates are compounds that are found in many plant foods, including celery. In some individuals, consuming a high-oxalate diet can increase the risk of kidney stones. 

After working with numerous clients and running functional health labs, I’ve discovered that many of them have a high level of oxalates. It’s more common than you would expect! 

Since celery juice is high in oxalates, drinking 16 ounces every day can not only increase the likelihood of kidney stones, it can also lead to the formation of oxalate crystals in different parts of your body, including organs. Those crystals can create muscle and joint pain associated with fibromyalgia, among other health problems. 

There Are Dangerous Interactions with Medication

Celery juice can increase photosensitivity, so anyone taking statins, NSAIDS, or other medications should be aware that drinking celery juice daily creates an increased risk of dermatitis, sun damage, and aging of the skin.8

Celery juice can also block the body’s ability to get rid of lithium. Anyone taking lithium needs to know that the consumption of celery juice can affect the dosage and effects of this medication.9

And if you’re on any type of blood thinner, it’s important to keep in mind that the vitamin K in celery juice promotes blood clotting, so it can work against the medication you’re taking!10

The Bottom Line on Celery Juice (And Every Food Trend)

Ultimately, there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. What may be a great idea for one person can harm someone else. 

Everyone’s biochemistry is different, and even your own individual needs will change over time. For celery juice specifically, there’s just not a lot of science to support the hype.

Drink it if you like, but know that there’s no such thing as a cure-all or magic pill. You’re better off eating the whole celery stalk along with a colorful variety of whole veggies and fruits as part of a healthy diet. 

The science does back that up!


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