Remember a year or two ago when Britain’s most loved chef Jamie Oliver, lispingly lamented the fact that celery has spent too much time hiding in the bases of pots, reminding us of it’s many uses and making sure that it becomes an indispensable kitchen ingredient? Suddenly Apium graveolens (Latin name) has become the perfect match to eggs, cheese, fish and almost any vegetable, using every last bit of the plant, leaves, stems and seeds, cooked or raw to seriously spice up many a bland culinary preparation, but is there more to this potent flavor-bomb than meets the taste buds?
Originally a wild plant from the Mediterranean, the ancient Greeks (450BC) used celery as a key ingredient for making some alcoholic brew called selinitis which was used as an award at early athletic games. In 30AD it was described as a pain reliever by Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a Roman bloke known for his medical encyclopedia. The plant spread across the globe and enjoyed a bit of medicinal glory in just about every ancient civilization including uses in the Oriental and Ayurvedic medicine, for it’s anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties but also played a part as a spiritual aid to open the heart chakra and to bring about perfect alignment between the chakras. By the Middle Ages it was cultivated and used in Europe as a remedy to a variety of ailments, but also as a popular flavorant. As time passed by, all sorts of tonics and elixirs were concocted and used, right up to this very day. Often using the fresh or dry seeds crushed and made into tea, it is nowadays readily available in tablets or capsules and in extracted forms such as essential oil or alcohol tinctures.
With a renewed and growing interest in ancient remedies in combination with scientific pharmacological methods, celery seed certainly has not escaped analysis in order to validate it’s traditional uses. Seen as the most powerful part of the plant, the tiny, brownish ellipse-shaped seed, houses a range of concentrated substances such as proteins, vitamins, minerals and other pharmacologically active compounds. Although not many clinical studies have been done, even just a quick glance at the list of chemical and nutritional substances, makes it clear that this humble seed deserves a front seat in the world of modern medicine.
The health benefits of celery seed are numerous.
1. It is probably known best for it’s diuretic effect. Due to the high potassium, calcium and sodium content, the kidneys are stimulated to get rid of uric acid and other toxins, which are key players in joint problems such as gout and arthritic diseases. Water retention, bloatedness and swollen hands and feet can also benefit from this effect.
2. It can positively reduce high blood pressure and may have neuroprotective effects due to the present phthalides, in particular 3-n-butylphthalide.
3. It’s high vitamin C content doesn’t only play a part in the common cold, but it generally strengthens the immune system, keeping one’s body geared to resist viruses that crosses our path.
4. Celery seed contains powerful antioxidants. In one of the limited studies done, it was proven to effectively neutralize the main culprit responsible for cell death, called free radicals due to it’s ability to increase vascular circulation,
5. It is assumed to have natural blood-thinning properties due to the presence of coumarin, which (bit of useless information) in it’s pure natural form smells like hay.
6. It goes further. These seeds also carry antiseptic qualities, and in combination with it’s diuretic effect, can be useful in urinary tract conditions such as cystitis and nephritis.
7. Gargling with celery seed tea can cure mouth ulcers and gingivitis and rinsing scars, wounds and chilblains with it can promote healing.
8. It is a intestinal stimulant, carminative and antispasmodic.
A few more celery seed benefits we should mention:
- Induces sleep and alleviates anxiety
- Great liver tonic
- Can ease menstrual cramps
- Fights bad cholesterol
- Anti-fungal and antibacterial
- Natural antibiotic
- Keeps mosquitos at bay!
It is recommended that you head straight for the herbs and spices next time you go to the food store, to top-up on your supply of these much more than just tasty little seeds and then to integrate it into your daily cooking, so that you too, can enjoy the benefits of this gift from nature and have a healthy body (and mind) in a perfectly natural way.
PS. It should be mentioned that before using celery seed in therapeutic doses in combination with other medicines, it is advisable to speak to your health practitioner, as it can enhance the effect of prescribed medicines such as blood-thinning medications. There are also people severely allergic to celery. Care should be taken by pregnant woman as it could stimulate uterus activity.