Everyone Is Drinking Celery Juice — But Is It Healthy? We Dive Into The Science Behind The Trend
I first heard about celery juice a couple of months ago when I was scrolling through Instagram stories. I noticed a ton of health and wellness influencers were posing with bunches of green leafy stalks or blending and pouring this neon green juice and smiling. I rolled my eyes thinking this was just another Instagram trend like a fitness tea or gummy hair vitamins and didn't think much of it.
It wasn't until I met a friend for breakfast who blamed her tardiness on the green juice that I became intrigued. Every morning she grabs a glass of celery juice from her local bodega. She doesn't eat anything for 30 minutes and then goes about her day. Since drinking the juice, she has been feeling like a superwoman, she told me—less bloated, with more energy. She's even lost a few pounds.
Meanwhile, the Instagram posts kept coming. Everyone, all of a sudden, was drinking celery juice. What was the deal?
Celery juice has been around forever, right?
Today there are 33,000 #CeleryJuice posts on Instagram (and growing!), but this vegetable obviously isn't a new thing. Carlos Quiros, a plant geneticist from the University of California Davis, told NPR that arcology remains from Switzerland show that people have been transporting celery seeds since 4,000 B.C. In China, Egypt, and Rome, this stalky plant was used as a remedy for a range of issues but mainly to cure hangovers or even to use as an aphrodisiac.
In 1868, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, or celery soda, made its debut, and it's been a deli staple, pairing perfectly with thick pastrami sandwiches, ever since. According to Marianne Santora, whose dad owned J&R Bottling, the company that brought Cel-Ray to California, the celery tonic was known to calm stomachs and heal bowel issues.
The concept of celery juice as a cure-all in the modern age came from medical medium Anthony William, who's been preaching this health hack for the past 20 years.
While William is not a licensed doctor or health care practitioner, he's garnered a large following in the wellness world. Since he was 4 years old, he had heard a voice perfectly clear in his right ear. He calls this voice "Spirit," and since then Spirit has been guiding him to read people to find out what's wrong with them. He calls himself medical medium because of this guiding spirit. When he was 4, he diagnosed his grandmother with lung cancer, which later her doctors confirmed. Since then he has gone on to write four New York Times best-selling books, has acquired a huge fan base of believers in his work including Gwyneth Paltrow, Pharell, and even Robert DeNiro.
William has been preaching the gospel of celery juice for a number of years in his books on his website. When he was about 8 years old, he got the message to drink celery juice on its own, and since then he and the people he heals have seen incredible benefits. "It's a miracle turnaround for all kinds of conditions," William told Mario Lopez on Extra last May. "Sixteen ounces of straight celery juice can change somebody's life."
To really reap the benefits of celery juice, William suggests it's juiced (no pulp), drank by itself (nothing added to it at all, not even ice), and a full 16 ounces are drunk on an empty stomach first thing in the morning at least 30 minutes before breakfast.
"I've used it [celery juice] for so many problems. It helps digestion problems, constipation, gas, bloating, acid reflux, acne, UTIs, sinus problems, Lyme disease, even ADHD…. It's miracle tonic that is changing the shape in alternative medicine like never before," William told mbg in a phone interview.
OK, but—is there any science behind the whole celery juice trend?
While thousands of people are seeing the power of celery juice, this green drink isn't backed by science. William explained to me that the reasons science hasn't backed up celery yet is because "in celery, there are undiscovered sodium subgroups, so it's not just salt; it's called cluster salts that haven't been taken apart by science. There's no reason for science and research to care about a celery stick, there's no reason to fund celery research. But the point is there are cluster sodium subgroups and cluster salts have the ability to kill off pathogens."
William explained to me that pathogens are bacteria, viruses, or microorganisms that can cause a huge range of infections from digestion problems to acne and UTIs1. So if these cluster salts from celery are killing off pathogens, that is why celery juice can help appease a wide range of infections, according to William.
I also asked a registered dietitian to see if she could back up any of these claims. Rachel Goodman, R.D. and owner of Brooklyn-based private practice Rachel Good Nutrition, thinks that people are seeing the effects of celery juice because, "Celery is a good source of potassium, vitamin K, and flavonoids—compounds that have been shown in studies to help keep electrolyte balance, function as antioxidants, and can help lower blood pressure and inflammation."
Goodman thinks people are seeing that celery is helping digestion, decreasing bloat and improving energy because of how hydrating celery is. And we all know the other age-old cure-all: water. So perhaps people are seeing these miracle effects of celery juice because it's just giving us more hydration that our body needs and doesn't get enough of. When I asked William about this, he pointed out that hydration can't cure Lyme disease and other various illnesses his audience have received relief from by drinking a daily 16 ounces of celery juice.
There is research that says that the antioxidant compounds in celery can help remove free radicals, says functional medicine doctor Jill Baron, M.D., However, she adds that "we don't have the research in humans at this time to verify all the claims."
Goodman is a little wary of the celery juice hype because, "It hasn't been studied as well as other fruits and vegetables that show benefits to our health, such as beets, blueberries, and avocado."
And this is something that William is completely aware of. He's hoping that soon science will fund studies for this. But for now, he has thousands of people (me included) who have experienced firsthand the benefits of this green juice.
Goodman, on the other hand, isn't confident that celery juice can be a heal-all, as she explains, "When it comes to our food choices, we tend to get fixated on a single food or beverage to resolve our health issues when in reality there is no one food that will cure disease... We need to be looking at our overall lifestyle and cultivate healthy behaviors for optimal health. If you enjoy celery juice, it can be part of a healthful eating pattern, but it should be part of the bigger picture and should not replace intake of all other vegetables and fruits."
Why now, though?
William thinks celery juice has been blowing up in the past months since his recent appearance on Extra that 30 million people saw, in addition to the endorsement of his celebrity followers and millions of readers of his books and website worldwide.
"Hawaii's demand for celery is really high right now. They're temporarily running low, but it's cyclical. People are stocking up on celery and filling their carts with it," William told mbg.
I tried celery juice. Here's what I thought.
So on one hazy Brooklyn morning, I went to my local bodega to ask for this celery spirit. At first, I didn't love the taste, which is a little salty and bland. But when I finished the drink, I felt a calm wash over me. I felt a little relief from my slight hangover from the night before and had a newfound energy to take on the day. For a week, I started each morning with a glass of celery juice.
After my celery juice week, I felt less bloated. I also noticed my appetite was decreased. I wasn't as ravenous for breakfast. I was feeling satisfied with smaller portions. Also, my caffeine, alcohol, and sugar cravings were much lower. When I did drink that extra glass of wine, celery juice appeased my hangover, gave me more energy, and increased my focus so I could devote my attention to the things that really matter.
What's the next superfood trend?
William's next book, Liver Rescue, is coming out October 30. He still cites celery as helping the liver because, as he explains in his article on celery juice, its mineral salts act as an antiseptic to stave off the pathogen growth in the liver. When these salts come in contact with viruses, they break down the pathogen's cell membrane, which eventually kills this bacteria.
Another superfood he talks about in his upcoming book is pitaya, or red dragon fruit, "You can buy frozen and add it to a smoothie, and it's actually better than beets for the liver." So perhaps next month, influencers will be downing pitaya smoothies? Only time will tell.
Personally, I saw the effect of celery juice on myself and my body. But am I going to buy a $6 celery juice every morning or finally invest in a juicer? Probably not. I think Goodman has a point, that some of the results we're seeing with celery juice are likely connected to simply hydration. If I need a boost of energy or hydration, I might splurge for more celery juice. Other than that, I'll stick with water.
Gabi Conti is a host, writer, producer, and journalist, living in Los Angeles, California. She received her bachelor's in broadcast journalism from Emerson College. In addition to hosting Street Smarts for Brother HQ on Snapchat, she has contributed food, dating, and funny articles to Elite Daily, POPSUGAR, Hello Giggles, and the Thought Catalog. Conti went on ten thousand hours worth of dates in her 20s (so she's basically a dating expert), and she's sharing that knowledge in her book 20 Guys You Date in Your 20s, which comes out Spring 2020.