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Celery Juice - A Magic Elixir?

Celery is having a GOOD year. People all over the world and on all platforms are talking about juicing this vegetable seemingly out of nowhere. We live in a world of constantly changing fad diets so the rise in popularity of this one isn’t all that surprising. But let's talk about where this movement came from.

It all started with someone by the name of Mr. Anthony William, who also goes by the name Medical Medium. He is a New York Times best-selling author who claims to have the ability to communicate with the 'Spirit of Compassion’, and this spirit gifts him with diagnostic abilities extending to the physical, emotional and spiritual health of any given person, as well as clear and specific insight into how to heal them.

One of the things that William preaches for optimal health is the magic of celery juice, in fact, he goes so far as to call it the savior of chronic illness. He says that drinking 16oz of celery juice daily on an empty stomach is highly beneficial for reversing inflammation in conditions and symptoms such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, eczema, psoriasis, acne, lupus, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gout, IBS, migraines, etc, etc, etc. He does claim widely that all the above and more are complete mysteries to the medical community, which is factually untrue even to the layman, but I digress.

Now, I drank the juice daily for about a month and honestly - it stands up to its claims. I had crystal clear, baby smooth skin on my face and body, my energy levels were steady, I was able to cut down on caffeine consumption, my brain fog genuinely lifted, I was in amazing spirits consistently, my sleep was impeccable and of course - my digestion was great. I think in general celery is great for you and I love juicing so I don’t argue that this could be good for your health, but as a medic and a woman of science, while I by no means discredit the above claims, I do feel strongly towards drawing conclusions from anecdotal evidence at the very least.

So let's talk about science. Anthony William’s take on Celery juice is that it contains these subterannial salt clusters that are completely undiscovered by our world. And that much is true, there is no scientific evidence anywhere that these cluster salts exist OR don’t exist. But he says that the salts bind to toxins and heavy metals in the liver, and aid their detoxification process.

Here’s what science does know about Celery. It contains these anti-inflammatory compounds called Luteolin and Polyacetylenes which can suppress both acute and chronic inflammation. They seek out and inhibit free radicals, which for those of you who don’t know - are one of the root causes of DNA, Lipid and Protein damage in our bodies. They even have been proven to have some anti-depressant effects AND have a role in inhibiting mast cells, which down the line contribute to our body’s allergic response and many autoimmune diseases. What does this all mean? If you take any condition that was mentioned earlier, you will see there is some element of inflammation within it. So if we were to find some way to subdue that inflammatory response, the symptoms would in theory also subside. So maybe that is why celery has such incredible documented effects on a variety of diseases and conditions, rather than it being due to cluster salts.

Celery is referred to as a natural diuretic - it helps flush away water retention from our bodies. This is another reported benefit of drinking the juice and the claim is that we have Phthalides to thank for this. However, research shows that the diuretic effects of phthalides are seen with the consumption of celery seeds or extracts, not the whole food. So, if there is some shedding of water weight it can most likely be explained by the same mechanism behind our regular water consumption since celery has such a high water content. The less water we drink the more our body holds onto the water it does have, and the more we drink the more our body expels. Because of this sudden water loss and a slew of other benefits, people on the internet have been saying that with the consumption of celery juice first thing in the morning you’re going to be able to shed all your water retention, control your elevated blood pressure, and get off your meds. Do NOT do that! As I said, the significant diuretic effects are seen with celery seed or extract consumption, not the juice anyways. Maybe you can come off your medication down the line, and I completely understand how good it can feel to cut down on pharmaceuticals, but please - it’s imperative that we discuss all medication and major lifestyle changes with our doctors to avoid making dangerous decisions on our own. It is your doctors' job to help monitor your health, with your feedback and wishes in mind, so have that open discussion with your physician and make sure that someone is helping you track your health progress.

It Is nutrient-dense! The biggest reason why you’re feeling good is that celery is high in water, potassium, and electrolytes. Most green juice recipes use celery as a core ingredient and it’s because of this nutrient density. Someone who is just starting on a health regime is probably going to be dehydrated, inadequately nourished in terms of micronutrients and imbalanced in terms of electrolytes. Our bodies are made of up of about 60% water and our body’s cells are specialized to conduct electrical currents. Without this electricity our nervous system would be unable to send signals throughout the body and to the brain, making it impossible for us to think, feel or move! So then all of a sudden if we consume all these micronutrients and electrolytes and begin hydrating ourselves - we’re probably going to feel supercharged immediately.

A study from the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine did a meta-analysis of 9 different studies looking at the anti-inflammatory effects of celery and celery juice. This effect came down to organic substances like caffeic acid, tannin, quercetin, kaempferol, and phenolic acid. Phenolic acid gets absorbs through our small intestine and inhibits the production of nuclear factor Kappa B (NFkB) - NFkB is involved in an important inflammatory pathway in our bodies. It regulates something called Cyclo-oxygenase enzyme 2 or COX2, which is responsible for catalyzing the conversion of substances in our body which gets expressed in inflammatory states. SO, Phenolic acid inhibits NFkB, which inhibits COX2, which inhibits the substances upregulated in inflammatory states and therefore inflammation itself! So you’re reducing the irritation in your muscles, your joints, your digestive tract, your brain, your skin - of course, this might make you feel better!

Another substance studied was Quercetin - it is an antioxidant, and boosts glutathione levels - a major antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. Think of it as a lieutenant leading his soldiers against the fight on free radicals. If this lead command falls, the entire force of the military weakens, and similarly, if we’re depleted of glutathione, our body senses it immediately and we do not feel well. To put it in context - Alcohol depletes glutathione stores because it gets quickly used up in trying to neutralize that alcohol, and how do you feel? Hungover, run-down, low energy, pale, weak, just all around messy. But free radicals exist all the time within our bodies, so replenishing glutathione stores at any point will make you feel armed and ready. Quercetin also blocks histamine - we take antihistamines to help us recover from major allergic responses, but our body can have small scale allergic reactions without us even knowing. These get taken care of by the powers of quercetin so that the external manifestations of the reaction are never seen.

Finally, the biggest selling factor I think to the rise in celery juice consumption is the claims towards improved digestion. The Medical Medium and other sources claim that with the consumption of juice in the morning you’re going to digest your food better, get rid of bloating, irritable bowel, ulcers, heartburn, etc. This effect comes from something called Apigenin which primarily induces autophagy. I'm going to have a full in-depth post on autophagy but essentially it is the body’s way of cleaning up old, damaged cells and injuries, and replacing them with new uninjured cells. It also cleans out old infections - whether mold, fungal, bacterial or viral and thereby is one of the best organic anti-aging mechanisms we have. But Apigenin is a pectin based polysaccharide - meaning it is in the fiber. None of which you are consuming when drinking the juice. In fact, we’re throwing all that fiber away.

So as you can hopefully see, without refuting anyone’s claims to celery juice, its benefits come from very easy to explain things rather than cluster salts and spirits. People have claimed these grand benefits around this new hype based on very little information and research. And it’s understandable - we all need a little hope and there is a lot with every new diet trend that comes to us. Just remember to do your research and use these health movements as add-ons to your lifestyle and medical regime, rather than as replacements. Disclaimer: This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Mashal Khan and is for informational and educational purposes only.The information discussed is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any specific disease or medical condition. It should not be used for or in the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, are advised to consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program and with specific health questions. Neither Dr. Khan nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content.

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©2020 by Dr. Mashal Khan