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Table of Contents > Herbs > Celery Seed
Celery Seed
Botanical Name:  Apium graveolens
Plant Description
What's It Made Of?
Available Forms
How to Take It
Possible Interactions
Supporting Research


Celery seed is one of the lesser-known herbs in Western herbal medicine. However, it has been used for thousands of years in other parts of the world for a variety of reasons. During ancient times, Ayurvedic physicians (vaidyas) used celery seed to treat people with colds, flu, water retention, poor digestion, various types of arthritis, and certain ailments of the liver and spleen.

Today, celery seed is used primarily as a diuretic to promote the excretion of urine. The diuretic action combined with the presence of anti-bacterial compounds in celery seed also make it useful in treating urinary tract infections. Laboratory studies have found that compounds in celery seed and its essential oil may also help reduce muscle spasms, calm the nerves, and reduce inflammation. In fact, some experts claim that celery seed alleviates the pain associated with certain inflammatory health conditions such as arthritis and gout.

In addition, a few animal studies suggest that celery seed extracts may have activity to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol as well as protect the liver from damaging agents such as acetominophen (also called paracetamol; an over the counter medication for pain and headache that can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities.)

None of these claims, however, have not been studied in people to date or backed by rigorous scientific studies. So, further research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of celery seed for the conditions described.

Preliminary animal studies have also found that celery seed helps prevent the formation of cancerous tumors in mice. In a study that included large numbers of people with and without colorectal cancer, researchers found that people who consumed a diet rich in lutein (from celery, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, and greens) were significantly less likely to develop colorectal cancer. It is not clear, however, whether celery alone played an important role in the prevention of this disease and how the information about these whole foods relates to the extracts and isolates of celery seed.

Plant Description

The celery plant is slender and stands about two to three feet tall. It has three to five segmented leaves, and flowers with small white petals. Celery seeds, which are found in the flowers, are very small, tan to dark brown, and have a strong, pleasant smell.

What's It Made Of?

Celery seeds contain several substances including volatile oils, flavonoids, coumarins, and linoleic acid.

Available Forms
  • Fresh or dried seeds
  • Tablets
  • Capsules filled with celery seed oil
  • Celery seed extract, in which the active ingredients of celery seed have been extracted by alcohol or glycerin

How to Take It


There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of celery seed. Therefore, it is not currently recommended for medicinal purposes in children.


Celery seed oil capsules or tablets: One to two capsules or tablets three times a day, as directed by your health care provider.

Celery seed extract: 1/4 to 1/2 tsp three times a day, or as directed by your health care provider. (Always take with plenty of juice or with water at mealtime, unless instructed otherwise.)

Whole celery seeds: Prepare a tea by pouring boiling water over one teaspoon (1 to 3 g) of freshly crushed seeds. Let it steep for 10 to 20 minutes before drinking. Drink three times a day.


The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger side effects and that can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.

Pregnant women should not use celery seed because it may uterine bleeding and cause muscle contractions in the uterus.

People with active kidney inflammation should also avoid this herb.

Although uncommon, allergic reactions (even anaphylaxis) to celery seed may develop in people who handle or ingest celery. In fact, some individuals who are allergic to birch pollen may also be allergic to celery seed.

Active compounds in celery stems and seeds can cause the skin to become highly sensitive to UV rays (called photodermatitis). For this reason, people taking celery seed should use sunscreen or sunblock lotions to protect their skin from the sun.

Celery seeds should not be taken from a garden packet. Most seeds sold for these purposes have been treated with chemicals and should not be taken internally.

Possible Interactions

There are no known scientific reports of interactions between celery seed and conventional medications. However, given that celery seed is an herb with diuretic effects, people taking prescription diuretics (such as furosemide or hydrochlorothiazide) should not take this herb without first consulting a healthcare provider.

Similarly, celery contains properties that may thin the blood, thus making it somewhat of a concern to take with blood thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin. If you take warfarin in particular you should not use celery seed without first consulting your healthcare provider.

Supporting Research

Atta AH, Alkofahi A. Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of some Jordanian medicinal plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;60:117-124.

Banerjee S, Sharma R, Kale RK, Rao AR. Influence of certain essential oils on carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes and acid-soluble sulfhydryls in mouse liver. Nutr Cancer. 1994;21:263-269. Abstract.

Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:35-36; 214-215; 245-249.

Boffa MJ, Gilmour E, Ead RD. Case report. Celery soup causing severe phototoxicity during PUVA therapy [letter]. Br J Dermatol. 1996;135(2):334.

Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications; 1998:52-53.

Duke JA. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press; 1992.

Foster S, Tyler VE. Tyler's Honest Herbal. 4th ed. New York: The Haworth Herbal Press; 1999:101-103.

Heck AM, DeWitt BA, Lukes AL. Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2000;57(13):1221-1227.

Ko FN, Huang TF, Teng CM. Vasodilatory action mechanisms of apigenin isolated from Apium graveolens in rat thoracic aorta. Biochim Biophys Acta. November 14; 1991;1115:69-74.

Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Wiley and Sons; 1996.

Miller L. Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions. Arch Intern Med. 1988;158(20):2200-2211.

Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996.

Ottariano SG. Medicinal Herbal Therapy. Portsmouth, NH: Nicolin Fields Publishing; 1999; 82.

Singh A, Handa SS. Hepatoprotective activity of Apium graveolens and Hygrophila auriculata against paracetamol and thioacetamide intoxication in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995;49:119-126.

Slattery ML, Benson J, Curtin K, Ma K-N, Schaeffer D, Potter JD. Carotenoids and colon cancer. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71:575-582.

Teng CM, Lee LG, Ko SN, et al. Inhibition of platelet aggregation by apigenin from Apium graveolens. Asia Pac J Pharmacol. 1985;3:85.

Tsi D, Das NP, Tan BK. Effects of aqueous celery (Apium graveolens) extract on lipid parameters of rats fed a high fat diet. Planta Med. 1995;61:18-21.

Zheng GQ, Kenney PM, Zhang J, Lam LK. Chemoprevention of benzo[a]pyrene-induced forestomach cancer in mice by natural phthalides from celery seed oil. Nutr Cancer. 1993;19:77-86.

Review Date: April 2002
Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Steven Dentali, PhD (April 1999), Senior Director of Botanical Science, Rexall Sundown, Boca Raton, FL; Jacqueline A. Hart, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior Medical Editor Integrative Medicine, Boston, MA; Gary Kracoff, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, MA; Steven Ottariono, RPh, Veteran's Administrative Hospital, Londonderry, NH; R. Lynn Shumake, PD (April 1999), Director, Alternative Medicine Apothecary, Blue Mountain Apothecary & Healing Arts, University of Maryland Medical Center, Glenwood, MD; Tom Wolfe, P.AHG (April 1999), Smile Herb Shop, College Park, MD. All interaction sections have also been reviewed by a team of experts including Joseph Lamb, MD (July 2000), The Integrative Medicine Works, Alexandria, VA;Enrico Liva, ND, RPh (August 2000), Vital Nutrients, Middletown, CT; Brian T Sanderoff, PD, BS in Pharmacy (March 2000), Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy; President, Your Prescription for Health, Owings Mills, MD; Ira Zunin, MD, MPH, MBA (July 2000), President and Chairman, Hawaii State Consortium for Integrative Medicine, Honolulu, HI.

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

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