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Scientific Name(s): Apium graveolens L. var dulce (Mill.) Pers.
Common Name(s): Celery, Celery seed, Celery seed oil

Clinical Overview


Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cytotoxic effects have been described. Limited clinical trials support traditional uses of celery and celery seed extracts. A role in cardiovascular conditions has not been determined.


Clinical trials guiding celery dosage are limited. n-Butylphthalide 200 and 400 mg daily doses have been used. Carminative use of the seed typically involves 1 to 4 g doses.


Celery seed is contraindicated in pregnancy.


Avoid use. Celery seed is contraindicated in pregnancy.


A case of celery root extract–induced bipolar disorder in a patient managed with venlafaxine and St. John's wort has been documented.

Adverse Reactions

Allergy, including dermatitis and anaphylaxis (rare), and phototoxicity to celery and its constituents have been reported. Dose-dependent hepatotoxicity has been noted for n-butylphthalide.


Celery seed has US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) status of generally recognized as safe (GRAS).


This biennial plant was first cultivated in Europe, but is grown and consumed worldwide. A number of celery varieties exist, many developed to meet commercial demands for particular colors, tastes, and stalk sizes. Celery generally grows between 1 and 2 feet tall. It has tough, ribbed green stems and segmented dark-green leaves containing toothed leaflets. During June and July, small white flowers bloom and later bear the smooth gray seeds. Wet and salty soils, swamps, and marshes are the preferred environments for celery. Celery is blanched to generate the edible white stem during cultivation by burying the stem. Celery seeds have a spicy odor and a spicy, slightly bitter taste. Celery seed oil is obtained by steam distillation of the seed.

Commercial varieties grown in North America are generally called pascal celery. In Europe, the term "celery" is frequently used to refer to a related root vegetable, A. graveolens L. var rapaceum, DC. Wild celery can refer to Vallisneria spiralis L., an aquatic perennial. Essential oil of mountain celery seeds is produced from a related species, Cryptotaenia japonica, and should not be confused with A. graveolens.1, 2, 3


Celery originated as a wild plant that grew in salt marshes around the Mediterranean Sea. About 450 BC, the Greeks used celery to make a type of wine called selinites. It served as an award at early athletic games, much like laurel leaves or olive branches. By the Middle Ages, Europeans were cultivating celery. Since then, the plant has been widely used as food and medicine. Late in the 19th century, various celery tonics and elixirs appeared commercially, generally containing the juice of crushed celery seeds and often with a large amount of alcohol. Celery seed is mainly used as a diuretic for bladder and kidney complaints, as well as for arthritis and rheumatism. The essential oil produces sedative effects. Celery continues to be used as a food flavor and in soaps and gum. A celery seed–flavored soda, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, is still available. Celery has become increasingly popular with dieters because of its high fiber content and the mistaken belief that chewing and digesting the stalks uses more calories than celery contains. Herbalists recommend celery for treatment of arthritis, nervousness, and hysteria. In Asian medicine, celery seed is used to treat headaches and as a diuretic, digestive aid, and emmenagogue. Celery has also been prescribed as an antiflatulent, antilactogen, and aphrodisiac.4, 5


The celery leafstalk is high in minerals, including sodium and chlorine, yet is a poor source of vitamins.

The major constituents of celery seed oil are d-limonene (60%), selinene (10%), and a number of related phthalides (3%) that include 3-n-butylphthalide, sedanenolide, and sedanonic anhydride. Other constituent compounds have been identified. The oil of celery seed is sometimes adulterated with celery chaff oil or d-limonene from less expensive sources.

The presence of potentially toxic polyacetylenes, including falcarinol and falcarindiol, in celery has been described. Ultraviolet spectrographic studies have indicated the presence of a compound similar or identical to 8-methoxypsoralen. Infrared spectography has detected another compound with a furocoumarin glucoside, isoquercitrin, and the coumarin glucoside apiumoside has also been identified. Other organic components include isovalerianic aldehyde, propionic aldehyde, and acetaldehyde.2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Uses and Pharmacology

Antioxidant activity

Animal data

Fresh celery flavonoid extracts reduced oxidative stress in rats and mice, as measured in the liver, mitochondria, and spermatozoa.11, 12, 13, 14, 15 In a cellular model of Parkinson disease, a butylphthalide extract of celery seed prevented oxidative damage and mitochondrial dysfunction.16

Clinical data

There are no clinical data regarding use of celery for antioxidant effects.

Cardiovascular effects

Animal data

Celery extract showed vasorelaxant effects on isolated rat aortic rings.17 Celery seed extract exerted hypotensive effects in hypertensive, but not normotensive, rats, possibly due to the n-butylphthalide content.18

Clinical data

A randomized, double-blind study (N = 535) conducted in patients with acute ischemic stroke found n-butylphthalide to be superior to aspirin at 90 days using a modified Rankin scale.19


Animal data

An ethanolic extract of celery seeds in rats was effective in inhibiting total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoproteins, while increasing high-density lipoproteins.20 Hypercholesterolemic rats fed a mixture of plants, including celery leaves, showed improved lipid profiles and a reduction in lesions in the liver.21

Clinical data

There are no clinical data regarding use of celery for dyslipidemia.

Other uses


Luteolin extracted from celery has been shown to suppress proinflammatory cytokines and upregulate cyclooxygenase expression.10, 22, 23


Antifungal, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal activity has been described for celery oil.8, 9, 24, 25


Essential oil from celery may also possess potential cytotoxic and antimutagenic properties.10, 26, 27, 28


In older studies, n-butylphthalide showed sedative and anticonvulsant effects in rodents.2

GI tract

A protective effect of leaves and seeds on gastric ulceration has been demonstrated in rats.24, 29


Clinical trials guiding celery dosage are limited. In one trial, n-butylphthalide 200 and 400 mg daily regimens were used. Higher doses were associated with elevated liver enzymes.19

Carminative use of the seed typically involves 1 to 4 g doses.3

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Celery seed is contraindicated in pregnancy, as it may have uterotonic activity and has been used traditionally as an emmenagogue.2, 30 Celery has also been used as an antilactogen by herbalists.13


Celery root–induced bipolar disorder was diagnosed in a 52-year-old woman with major depressive disorder managed for the previous 5 months on venlafaxine 75 mg/day plus St. John's wort 600 mg/day with no side effects. Within 48 hours of initiating a celery root extract 1,000 mg/day for menopausal symptoms, the patient presented with elevated and manic affect, verbose and rapid speech, visual hallucinations, and impaired level of functioning. Total venlafaxine and metabolite levels were elevated (476.8 ng/mL; therapeutic range is 195 to 400 ng/mL). Serotonin syndrome was ruled out. Her affect, hallucinations, and thought processes improved after 24 hours with no further celery root supplementation.36

Case reports are lacking. Antithrombotic effects have been described for celery seed extracts.19 An interaction with warfarin due to low vitamin K content (47 mcg per 100 g of celery) is unlikely.25 Celery seed showed cytochrome P450 inhibitory action, possibly due to the presence of furanocoumarins.31 Potentiation of monoamine oxidase inhibitors is theoretically possible.32

Adverse Reactions

Allergy, including dermatitis and anaphylaxis (rare), and phototoxicity to celery and its falcarinol content have been described.2, 3, 10, 33

Raised liver enzymes have been noted in phase 3 trials of n-butylphthalide 800 mg/day.19

In 2010, an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes gastroenteritis in Texas was attributed to diced celery in salads. Storage at proper refrigeration is advised.34, 35


Celery seed has FDA GRAS status.2 Neurotoxicity in rats due to the seed’s chemical constituent falcarinol has been demonstrated.10 Furocoumarins may be carcinogenic, and their concentration increases 100-fold in celery that is injured or diseased.3


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4. Bisset N, ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart, Germany: Scientific Publishers; 1994.
5. Garfield E. From tonic to psoriasis—stalking celery's secrets. Current Contents. 1985;16(8):3.
6. Madjarova D, Bubarova M, Hristova I. The biochemical nature of forms obtained by the remote hybridization between genera-Apium, Petroselinum. II. Essential oils. Herba Hungarica. 1979;18(3):185.
7. Garg SK, Gupta SR, Sharma ND, et al. Glucosides of Apium graveolens. Planta Medica. 1980;38(4):363-365.
8. Marongiu B, Piras A, Porcedda S, et al. Isolation of the volatile fraction from Apium graveolens L. (Apiaceae) by supercritical carbon dioxide extraction and hydrodistillation: chemical composition and antifungal activity. Nat Prod Res. 2013;27(17):1521-1527.22974401
9. Nagella P, Ahmad A, Kim SJ, Chung IM. Chemical composition, antioxidant activity and larvicidal effects of essential oil from leaves of Apium graveolens. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2012;34(2):205-209.21740094
10. Christensen LP, Brandt K. Bioactive polyacetylenes in food plants of the Apiaceae family: Occurrence, bioactivity and analysis. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2006;41(3):683-693.16520011
11. Cao J, Zhang X, Wang Q, Jia L, Zhang Y, Zhao X. Influence of flavonoid extracts from celery on oxidative stress induced by dichlorvos in rats. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2012;31(6):617-625.22045891
12. Li P, Jia J, Zhang D, Xie J, Xu X, Wei D. In vitro and in vivo antioxidant activities of a flavonoid isolated from celery (Apium graveolens L. var. dulce). Food Funct. 2014;5(1):50-56.24232123
13. Kolarovic J, Popovic M, Zlinská J, Trivic S, Vojnovic M. Antioxidant activities of celery and parsley juices in rats treated with doxorubicin. Molecules. 2010;15(9):6193-6204.20877216
14. Choi EM. Luteolin protects osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells from antimycin A-induced cytotoxicity through the improved mitochondrial function and activation of PI3K/Akt/CREB. Toxicol In Vitro. 2011;25(8):1671-1679.21782929
15. Kooti W, Mansouri E, Ghasemiboroon M, Harizi M, Amirzargar A. Protective effects of celery (Apium Graveolens) on testis and cauda epididymal spermatozoa in rat. Iran J Reprod Med. 2014;12(5):365-366.25031583
16. Huang JZ, Chen YZ, Su M, et al. Dl-3-n-Butylphthalide prevents oxidative damage and reduces mitochondrial dysfunction in an MPP(+)-induced cellular model of Parkinson's disease. Neurosci Lett. 2010;475(2):89-94.20347933
17. Jorge VG, Angel JR, Adrián TS, et al. Vasorelaxant activity of extracts obtained from Apium graveolens: possible source for vasorelaxant molecules isolation with potential antihypertensive effect. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013;3(10):776-779.24075341
18. Moghadam MH, Imenshahidi M, Mohajeri SA. Antihypertensive effect of celery seed on rat blood pressure in chronic administration. J Med Food. 2013;16(6):558-563.23735001
19. Cui LY, Zhu YC, Gao S, et al. Ninety-day administration of dl-3-n-butylphthalide for acute ischemic stroke: a randomized, double-blind trial. Chin Med J (Engl). 2013;126(18):3405-3410.24034079
20. Iyer D, Patil UK. Effect of chloroform and aqueous basic fraction of ethanolic extract from Apium graveolens L. in experimentally-induced hyperlipidemia in rats. J Complement Integr Med. 2011;8.2271867210.2202/1553-3840.1529
21. Abd El-Mageed NM. Hepatoprotective effect of feeding celery leaves mixed with chicory leaves and barley grains to hypercholesterolemic rats. Pharmacogn Mag. 2011;7(26):151-156.21716923
22. Kim HJ, Lee W, Yun JM. Luteolin inhibits hyperglycemia-induced proinflammatory cytokine production and its epigenetic mechanism in human monocytes. Phytother Res. 2014;28(9):1383-1391.24623679
23. Park CM, Song YS. Luteolin and luteolin-7-O-glucoside inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory responses through modulation of NF-ΚB/AP-1/PI3K-Akt signaling cascades in RAW 264.7 cells. Nutr Res Pract. 2013;7(6):423-429.24353826
24. Baananou S, Bouftira I, Mahmoud A, Boukef K, Marongiu B, Boughattas NA. Antiulcerogenic and antibacterial activities of Apium graveolens essential oil and extract. Nat Prod Res. 2013;27(12):1075-1083.22934666
25. Nguyen S, Huang H, Foster BC, et al. Antimicrobial and P450 inhibitory properties of common functional foods. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2014;17(2):254-265.24934554
26. Lim SH, Jung SK, Byun S, et al. Luteolin suppresses UVB-induced photoageing by targeting JNK1 and p90 RSK2. J Cell Mol Med. 2013;17(5):672-680.23551430
27. Hashim S, Aboobaker VS, Madhubala R, Bhattacharya RK, Rao AR. Modulatory effects of essential oils from spices on the formation of DNA adduct by aflatoxin B1 in vitro. Nutr Cancer. 1994;21(2):169-175.8058527
28. Zheng GQ, et al. Chemoprevention of benzo[a]pyrene-induced forestomach cancer in mice by natural phthalides from celery seed oil. Nutr Cancer. 1993;19(1):77.8446516
29. Al-Howiriny T, Alsheikh A, Alqasoumi S, Al-Yahya M, ElTahir K, Rafatullah S. Gastric antiulcer, antisecretory and cytoprotective properties of celery (Apium graveolens) in rats. Pharm Biol. 2010;48(7):786-793.20645778
30. Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG. 2002;109(3):227-235.11950176
31. Chang CH, Wang YW, Yeh Liu PY, Kao Yang YH. A practical approach to minimize the interaction of dietary vitamin K with warfarin. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014;39(1):56-60.24383939
32. Jäger AK, Gauguin B, Andersen J, Adsersen A, Gudiksen L. Screening of plants used in Danish folk medicine to treat depression and anxiety for affinity to the serotonin transporter and inhibition of MAO-A. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;145(3):822-825.23266274
33. Pauli G, Bessot JC, Dietemann-Molard A, Braun PA, Thierry R. Celery sensitivity: clinical and immunological correlations with pollen allergy. Clin Allergy. 1985;15(3):273-279.4006177
34. Kaminski CN, Davidson GR, Ryser ET. Listeria monocytogenes transfer during mechanical dicing of celery and growth during subsequent storage. J Food Prot. 2014;77(5):765-771.24780331
35. Gaul LK, Farag NH, Shim T, Kingsley MA, Silk BJ, Hyytia-Trees E. Hospital-acquired listeriosis outbreak caused by contaminated diced celery—Texas, 2010. Clin Infect Dis. 2013;56(1):20-26.22997210
36. Khalid Z, Osuagwu FC, Shah B, Roy N, Dillon JE, Bradley R. Celery root extract as an inducer of mania induction in a patient on venlafaxine and St John’s wort. Postgrad Med. 2016;128(7):682-683.27467225


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