A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
The plant known as the celery is a familiar culinary herb. The botanical name of the celery is Apium graveolens L., the plant is an annual or biennial plant belonging to the Apiaceae family of plants that is native to Eurasia, growing principally in the wild in habitats with saline soils next to coastal areas. The seeds of the celery seed which are really the fruit of the plant have a warm, aromatic and pungent flavor and are employed as a condiment in many kinds of food products sold in the market. Celery also has essential oil in the seeds which are distilled and used as a flavoring in food products. The celery has been cultivated as a garden vegetable in areas with a temperate climate for a very long time. The plant species A. graveolens var. dulce, that is characterized by thickened and closely overlapping, ribbed petioles, is the common celery sold and seen in the produce sections of grocery stores. Celery of a different variety, the A. graveolens var. rapaceum sub-species, called the celeriac, bears a peculiar and highly swollen taproot, this variety is found as a specialty vegetable in grocery stores in the United States, while it is the common celery of European markets.
The seeds of the celery have a historical reputation as a folk medicine and were traditionally used in the treatment of problems like flatulence and indigestion, the remedy made from celery seeds were also as major diuretic medication, as an anti-spasmodic medication, as well as an herbal aphrodisiac. The principal treatments for the use of celery seeds included treating problems such as asthma, the treatment of bronchitis, and treating rheumatism and related disorders.
Extensive clinical studies have been carried out on the chemistry of the celery seeds, and the essential oil in particular has been studied thoroughly. On examination, the essential oil found in the seeds is found to possess compounds such as deltalimonene, selinene, and different type of sesquiterpene alcohols, it also contains the flavor principles the phthalides, primarily 3-n-butylphthalide, and the compound sedanenolide which give celery its characteristic flavor and aroma. Celery seeds in addition, are found to possess a fixed oil that is composed of many ubiquitous fatty acids, such as the petroselinic, the oleic and linoleic, the myristic, the stearic, and palmitic acids. The seeds of the celery are also associated with different helpful pharmacological activities including an anti-spasmodic effect, a bactericidal effect and an ability to act as a mild sedative among other beneficial effects.
The reason that clinicians are interested in the extracts of the celery seed is due to the traditional and still unproven claims, that it has the ability to reduce uric acid levels in the body, alleviating the pain of arthritis and rheumatism at the same time. The treatment of gout using the extracts of the celery seeds is also recommended. However, till such times that these claims of herbalists are supported by the results from peer reviewed scientific research, the place of the celery seed extracts in history will continue to be next to the celery patent medicines of the nineteenth century - more research will be needed to find out if any of the stated beneficial effects of the extracts of the celery are true. The celery is the primary subject of a German Commission E monograph that aims to study the stated benefits of the herb, seed extracts and root. Since the effectiveness of this remedy is still to be proven, the making of therapeutic claims is not permitted.
Just the act of handling or ingesting celery can bring discomfort to certain individuals, such people may suffer from contact dermatitis or be affected by allergies. Celery contains compounds called in the stems and in the seeds; these compounds can induce photo dermatitis in a person. When some individuals eat celery, they may suffer from a hypersensitivity to the celery, such people are also always allergic to birch pollen - this is called the birch-celery syndrome. The oil in the celery seeds has irritating compounds and even though celery seeds have traditionally been used as a diuretic, the seeds should be avoided by all persons suffering from inflammation in the genitourinary tract.
Humans have cultivated the celery since antiquity, it is one of the oldest vegetables known to man and has been associated with many different civilizations. Celery was well known to the ancient Egyptians, who used to gather the wild celery growing in marshy seaside regions for food. Many other early civilizations in recorded history also used the celery as a food plant. As a vegetable, the celery is an ideal plant, as it has many culinary and herbal uses and very little waste is associated with its use, as the entire plant is edible. The dried seeds and leaves of the celery are an excellent seasoning for many kinds of dishes. Celery can be eaten in many ways; however, it is best to cook the outer ribs, while the inner ribs can be eaten raw. The inner ribs of the celery are said to have a beneficial effect on the heart and the circulatory system.
The light green to medium green color celery called the “Pascal celery” is the variety of celery that is most commonly available in stores. The Pascal celery has firm and solid stalks that bear the biggest clusters of green leaves among all celery varieties to be found in the world. The leaves of the celery can snap off easily and usually have a glossy surface. The celery belongs to the famous herbal parsley family of plants. The celery in common with other plants in the family enjoys some very reputable medical claims that can be attributed to parsley. Celery was also used in the manufacture of wreaths by the ancient Greeks on the Isthmus of Corinth around 450 B.C. These Greeks crowned their winning athletes with wreaths made of a crown of the stems and leaves of the celery.
A potent sedative compound called phthalide is found in the stalks and seeds of the celery. In the Chinese system of medicine practice in mainland China, at least fourteen out of a total of sixteen patients suffering from high blood pressure were treated using the juice of the celery. The remedy had celery juice added to equal amounts of honey and eight teaspoons of this remedy was given orally thrice daily to each of the patients - this treatment continued for a week and resulted in improvements in fourteen of the sixteen patients. A juicer or blender can be used to make celery juice at home; the fresh juice can also be brought from a health food store. A celery and carrot juice can be used to bring a calming effect on frayed nerves and to strengthen the nervous system; this juice can be prepared by mixing equal parts of celery and carrot juice in a flask. Drinking an 8 oz. glass of this mixed juice daily can strengthen frayed nerves in people affected by nervous disorders.
Stems, seeds, root.
The historical records suggest that the cultivation of celery as a food crop is at least 3,000 years old. The celery was most probably cultivated the earliest in Egypt of the pharaohs. We also knew that the Chinese were familiar with the plant by the 5th century BC. Celery has been used as a food plant throughout history as far as we know, and the belief is that at different times in many civilizations the whole herb and the seeds were used as major herbal medications by people.
Other medical uses
Habitat and cultivation
Celery is indigenous to Eurasia; it is also found growing in the wild in Britain and many of other countries in Europe. In the British Isles, the celery can be seen growing wild in marshlands along the Welsh and English coastal regions. These days, the celery is grown as a vegetable almost everywhere, the cultivated variety of celery is less potent in fragrance and aroma compared to the original wild variety of the plant. The normal time to harvest celery is from the middle of summer to the start of the fall season.
The type of soils ideal for the celery is a rich moist soil, the plant also grows well at sites with good exposure to sunlight or sites with semi shade, and however, the plant grows best under some shade in the summer months. Saline soils are tolerated well by the celery and the plant often grows in marshland along the coast. While very harsh frost can damage the plants in the winter, the celery is considered to be a fairly hardy plant that is resistant to sudden changes in environmental conditions. The present cultivated variety of celery - A. graveolens dulce, as well as celery leaf - A. graveolens secalinum and the celeriac - A. graveolens rapaceum, are all derived from the wild celery. The celery has a potent aroma and is one of the most aromatic food plants around, the aroma is the strongest when any part of the foliage is bruised or cut. Celery can be grown along with other common vegetables in the garden, including plants like leeks, tomatoes, as well as French beans and brassicas - the celery grows well with these plants.
The celery is principally propagated using stored seeds. These seeds can be sown in situ during the spring or in the fall. The way to assure germination when the supply of seeds is short is to use a cold frame to sow the seeds in the spring. Celery seeds can often harbor certain diseases that affect the celery, seed companies usually treat seeds before they are sold, however, if you decide to use your own saved seeds, ensure that only seeds from healthy celery plants is sown to assure the health of germinating seedlings.
The essential oil found in the celery was studied in extensive clinical researches carried out in Germany and China during the 1970s and 1980s. In these studies, it was found that the oil possessed a calming effect on the functioning of the human central nervous system and could be used to alleviate nervous disorders. On further examination, some of the chemicals in the essential oil were also found to effect anti-spasmodic, sedative, and anticonvulsant actions on the human body. The effectiveness of the oil in treating high blood pressure problems have been confirmed in studies conducted on the essential oil of the celery in the Peoples Republic of China.