Celery juice is all the rage these days, due in large part to the Medical Medium. I don’t have any sort of “gift” allowing me to be graced with some form of divine knowledge. But I do have access to the scholarly Dr. Google, which is arguably better.
People claim major beneficial effects on their digestion and gut health by consuming 16oz of celery juice every morning. My initial impression of this was that it was a bunch of hooey. However, there actually appears to be a valid mechanism for how it works.
I found this thanks to my previously mentioned friend Dr. Google
Falcarinol and Falcarindiol: The magic behind celery juice
Falcarinol and falcarindiol are natural pesticides found in the Apiaceae family which includes carrots, parsnips, fennel, and…you guessed it…celery. In plants, they are used as antifungals to prevent root rot. So, they’re not just saving them up for us and rabbits to consume to feel better.
However, as with other plant components that function as pesticides such as sulforaphane, falcarinol and falcarindiol have beneficial effects in humans when consumed. In fact, falcarinol acts via the same pathway as sulforaphane: it’s an NRF2 inducer.
There’s likely a synergistic effect to consuming falcarinol with falcarindiol as the latter activates pathways downstream from the former. A few studies show the potential benefits of these compounds in the gut. They also show us how to get the greatest benefit when using them.
Falcarinol and falcarindiol in action
The first 2 studies used pretreatment with falcarinol and falcarindiol in a rat model of colon cancer using azodymethane(AOM). AOM requires bile recycling and microbiota activation to cause colon cancer. The first study found a reduction of cancerous lesions in rats receiving falcarinol and falcarindiol. The number of tumors larger than 3mm in the treatment group being 1 vs 6 in the control group.
They essentially found the same effect in the second study, but they dug a little deeper. In the second study, they found that falcarinol and falcarindiol changed the microbiome. This change likely contributed to the resistance to colon cancer. More on this in a bit.
The final study was probably the most interesting to me. In this study, they compared gut and systemic inflammation induced by lipopolysaccharide(LPS) in mice receiving falcarinol, sulforaphane, and control mice with no treatment. Both falacrinol and sulforaphane reduced:
- LPS-induced intestinal inflammation
- Lipid peroxidation
- Leaky gut
Falcarinol outperformed sulforaphane in this study.
Furthermore, this was in dosages readily achievable through normal dietary consumption. When juiced from celery, even higher dosages are achieved because both are water soluble.
Overall these studies implicate falcarinol and falcarindiol as the potential effectors in the beneficial effects of celery juice. They also may give us a hint as to how to best utilize it.
Using celery juice to heal the gut
In the above studies, falcarinol and falcarindiol were pretreatment to reduce the damaging effects of AOM and LPS. This means that they likely heal cells while at the same time bolstering their resilience to insults in the gut. These studies suggest using celery juice early in the healing process to help heal gut damage is the way to go.
Once the cells in the gut are healed, the environment is conducive to the growth of beneficial bacteria. This is a huge mistake most people with gut problems make. They introduce probiotics and prebiotics in to a damaged gut. Doing this will only exacerbate the already damaged gut.
This is where you want to reintroduce foods and potentially probiotics to help re-establish a healthy microbiome. However, to test if you’re ready, it’s a good idea to come off celery juice to see if it’s safe. Since it’s bolstering cellular defense against inflammatory insults, if you remove it and go back to the same symptoms as before, whatever is inflaming your gut is still there.
Relapse after celery juice: What does it mean?
Typically, relapse after removal of celery juice indicates one of 3 problems:
- You’re doing something wrong-Circadian disruption, poor sleep, physical inactivity, poor meal frequency and spacing, overfeeding, poor stress management, etc
- You’re eating something wrong-There’s a component of your diet that’s stimulating the immune system. Alternatively, you are deficient in a nutrient critical to gut health
- You have dysbiosis-Either lack of good guys, presence of bad guy, or an overgrowth of either
The first 2 are simple enough to address and could rule out the latter. They also may stabilize the gut in a way that makes the 3rd option irrelevant. For example, many people live with blastocystis without any symptoms. This also explains the recent death due to fecal microbiota transplant. The donor obviously gave the recipient something the donor’s gut could tolerate(E. coli), but was lethal to the recipient.
This is a key element to the proper use of celery juice. It makes you resilient to an insult, but it doesn’t necessarily clear the cause of the problem. So it’s not a solution but a component of a solution. Outside of aging which may simply make the gut less resilient, celery juice is a temporary tool.
Anecdotally, many people have seen substantial improvements in gut and overall health by consuming 16oz of celery juice every morning. I believe that falcarinol and falcarindiol likely play a huge role in the beneficial effects of celery juice.
Falcarinol and falcarindiol appear to exert most of their effects by making the gut more resilient to inflammatory insults. Based on this mechanisms, it doesn’t seem logical to look at celery juice as a cure. It does seem a potential tool to correct a gut problem(s).
However, as with any tool, it should be used for the proper task. Based on the evidence, celery juice should be used early on in an intervention. This helps achieve homeostasis in the gut. But that’s not the end of the journey. Clearing the gut of the insult and reintroduction of foods is critically important for optimizing gut health.