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, various types of arthritis, and certain diseases of the liver and spleen.
Today, celery seed is used primarily as a diuretic, meaning it increases urine output to help the body get rid of excess water. 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 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 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.
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.
Celery seeds contain several substances including volatile oils; flavonoids, chemicals that give plants their colors and have antioxidant effects that may protect cells from damage; coumarins, chemical compounds that help thin the blood; and linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid.
Scientists haven’t studied celery seeds in children, so it is not recommended for children under 18.
Celery seed oil capsules or tablets: 1 - 2 capsules or tablets 3 times a day, as directed by your health care provider.
Celery seed extract: 1/4 to 1/2 tsp 3 times a day, or as directed by your health care provider. Always take with plenty of juice or with water at mealtime, unless instructed otherwise.
Whole celery seeds: Prepare a tea by pouring one cup boiling water over one teaspoon (1 - 3 g) of freshly crushed seeds. Steep for 10 - 20 minutes before straining and drinking. Drink 3 times a day.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can 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. People taking celery seed should use sunscreen or sunblock lotions.
Don’t take celery seeds from a garden packet. These seeds have usually been treated with chemicals.
Because there have been so few studies, researchers don’t really know whether celery seed interacts with other herbs and medications. However, people who take the following medications should avoid 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. If you take prescription diuretics, talk to your doctor before taking celery seed.
Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants) -- 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 has the potential to interact with lithium, thyroid medications, and sedatives.
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