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Celery Seed

Celery Seed

Botanical Description & Habitat

Apium groveclens


Southern Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America; damp places.

Celery resembles domestic celery, but it is smaller and possesses a disagreeable taste. In its second year, the plant produces an angular, furrowed stem reaching 3 feet in height. It bears opposite dark green leaves that are shiny and pinnate, having wedge-shaped, incised, toothed leaflets. From July to November, white or grayish-white flowers appear in paniculate compound umbels. The fruits are dark brown, elliptic-ovate seeds.

Medicinal Parts
Fruits or seeds - ripe, dried

Historical Properties & Uses

While the ancient Greeks originally made a wine (selenites) recently, celery seed is used almost exclusively as a diuretic. Since it is very powerful, it is often used alone in severe cases of gout, edema, and dropsy. At other times, small amounts are added to diuretic herbal blends to provide reliable action. The herb is also used to treat kidney and bladder disorders, but is avoided if the kidneys are inflamed.

Celery seed is sometimes used as a carminative and antispasmodic in the digestive system. This action depends on the presence of its volatile oil. Celery has been used on occasion for rheumatism and arthritis, although its efficacy against those ailments has been established. Celery plant, not the seed, is purported to be emmenagogic.

The essential oil is associated with sedative effects.

There are early signs of usefulness against cancer.

Celery root, celery herb or celery seed have not achieved approval status by the German Commission E. Either there was insufficient evidence in favor, or a contraindication.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Facts and Comparison. The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. Jan, 1996.

Method of Action

Diuretic action of celery seed is profound. It is probably attributable to the presence of glycolic acid.

Celery seed has some small antibacterial activity.

The volatile oil (apiol) produces contractions of the gravid and non-gravid uterus.

During trials earlier in this century when scientists were looking for sources of insulin, celery was found to contain enough substance chemically similar to insulin to cause a marked lowering the blood sugar when administered to normal rabbits.

Following up on the above hypoglycemic findings, other researchers found celery leaves, while having no effect on alloxan diabetes, did have an apparent beneficial effect on adrenaline-induced hyperglycemia.

Sedanenolide (a phthalide) and 3-butlyphthalide are major constituents of celery seed. These substances prolong pentobarbital narcosis and induce sleep immediately following recovery from pentobarbital-induced narcosis. They also have weak sedative activity when given alone.

Purported hypotensive activity has been reported from China.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
The antiarrhythmic agent, quinidine, may increase the hypoprothrombinemic effect of celery seed.

Vitamin K, menadione and menadiol sodium diphosphate may antagonize the anticoagulant effects of coumarins, such as celery seed.

The hypoglycemic action of celery may be decreased by the use of acetazolamide, oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, dextrothyroxine, epinephrine, ethanol, glucagon, and marijuana.

In addition, the antidiabetic effects of celery may be decreased by phenothiazines, rifampin, thiazide diuretics, and thyroid hormones.

Conversely, the antidiabetic action of celery may be enhanced by salicylates, sulfinpyrazone, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines. The antidiabetic action of celery may also be enhanced by allopurinol, anabolic steroids, chloramphenicol, clofibrate, fenfluramine, guanethidine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI's), phenylbutazone, and probenecid.

Although the coumarin content of celery is not high at normal usage levels, it is important to note coumarins can affect the action of almost any drug.

In the absence of other hard data, it may be assumed observable interactions occur between the many central nervous system drugs and the psychoactive principles in celery.

There is evidence to show combined use of bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents will lower the effectiveness of the bacteriostatic agent. However, how this finding applies to herbal anti-infectives is still unknown.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

While celery seed and celery seed oil are non-irritating, non-sensitizing and non-phototoxic, in the wild state the plant can produce contact dermatitis.

The German Commission E, however, notes the possibilities for allergic skin reactions and phototoxic furanocoumarin.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried seed
0.5-2 grams

1/2 tsp dried seeds

Fluid extract
1:1 in 60% alcohol, 0.3-1.2 ml

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.


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