Celery (Apium graveolens) is a member of the Apiaceae (Parsley) Family and a relative of dill and carrots. The genus name, is derived from the Latin, apis, meaning bee, as bees are attracted to its small white flowers. The species name gravelones, means “heavy scented.” Our English word celery is from the Latin celer, meaing swift, as celery is considered a fast acting remedy. It is believed to native to the Mediterranean region, Ancient Greeks crowned their athletes with celery leaves to honor them. In the seventieth century celery was hybridized to be less bitter.
Celery is considered blood purifying, diuretic, and tonic. It has traditionally been used as a remedy to treat acne, arthritis, asthma, canker sores, constipation, diabetes, edema, eye inflammation, gall stones, gout, headache, hypertension, insomnia, cracking joints, nervousness, obesity, pyorrhea, rheumatism, burning and blood in the urine, urethritis, and to speed the healing of wounds.
Celery is cool in energy and its flavor is sweet and bitter. It is considered one of the most alkaline of foods. It has a special affinity for the stomach, kidneys, and liver and helps to neutralize acids in the body. Celery helps dry damp conditions in the body, including excess phlegm and yeast overgrowth. It is also used to cool and detoxify the liver. Chewing celery exercises the teeth and gums. It can also be eaten to calm a sensation of heat in the stomach. The seeds and stalks contain a calming compound called phthalide. Celery also contains coumarins, which are compounds believed beneficial in cancer prevention.
Celery is rich in beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, silica, sodium, chlorophyll, and fiber. It is about 95% water. After exercise, celery juice helps replace lost electrolytes. Use only moderate doses during pregnancy as it can promote menses.
Celery is one of the most chemically altered crops, often grown in nitrate fertilizers and sometimes the leaves are blanched. Look for darker green (more nutritious) organic celery. Select undamaged stalks that are not cracked or wilted.
Celery can be enjoyed in salads, soups, and as an alternative to chips for dips. Spread raw almond butter into celery stalks for an afternoon treat. Celery makes an excellent vegetable juice, especially combined with carrot and apple. Dieters and those quitting smoking would do well to eat celery stalks rather than crackers, candy, and chips. Celery is an often consumed food by gorillas.