Both celery stalks and seeds are touted as gout remedies for reducing uric acid levels, reducing pain, and as a diuretic to lower blood pressure. How can the humble celery stalk, or extracts of its seeds, be so helpful?
Gout cures require the reduction of uric acid levels. The usual clinical target is a serum (blood) level of 6 mg/dL. Reducing uric acid levels often dissolves the MSU crystals which are mainly formed from uric acid. The immune system’s reaction to these crystals is the immediate cause of pain and inflammation. Drugs such as Allopurinol are xanthine oxidase inhibitors — it inhibits the enzyme which is responsible for a major step in converting purines into uric acid in the liver, so less uric acid is produced.
Celery is one of the natural substances which may inhibit xanthine oxidase, according to a study on rats, where rats lowered their uric acid from 3-n-butylpthalide, or 3nB for short. This is the substance in celery that gives celery its distinctive smell and flavour.
But 3nB’s benefits for gout sufferers go further. 3nB also has diuretic properties. Thus it promotes the excretion of urine and can lower uric acid levels by improving its excretion in urine. Furthermore, as a diuretic, it acts to reduce blood pressure which is important for gout sufferers because high blood pressure frequently accompanies gout.
CELERY AND PAIN RELIEF
Two small studies reached interesting and hopeful conclusions about celery as a pain reliever. A celery extract, standardized to contain 85% 3nB was given to 15 arthritis, osteoporosis and gout sufferers. They took 34mg twice daily for three weeks. After three weeks the patients reported lower pain levels, and some reported complete pain relief.
Obviously encouraged by the results, the study was repeated among a larger group, 70 patients this time, who took a higher dosage (75mg) twice daily for three weeks. The results were better than in the first study. The probability that this beneficial outcome was NOT a consequence of the dosage was calculated at 1 in 1,000 chances.
Two small studies “do not make a summer.” And more research is required to learn more about celery’s positive effect on uric acid levels.
Noted experts have also endorsed celery as a gout remedy. A well known naturopathic doctor, Michael Murray N.D., author of “Dr.Murray’s Total Body Tune Up” has recommended celery, with the usual caveat that more needs to be learnt about how it works.
Another fan of celery, Dr. James Duke PhD, the author of “The Green Pharmacy,” developed gout and tried Allopurinol. Then he swapped Allopurinol for celery seed extract. He reported celery seed extract maintained his uric acid level below that which can often cure gout, and that he had not had a gout attack since he began taking celery seed extract. The interesting thing is that he was able to discontinue Allopurinol, and that he said a human, as well as rats, can at least maintain lower uric acid levels from celery.
So there it is. Two experts have endorsed celery and two small studies showed promising results. Celery can be beneficial for gout, reduce blood pressure and alleviate pain. Unwanted side effects were not found in the studies. And the research learnt that pain often returned when celery seed extract was discontinued. So if it does work for you, you may need to take it for a long time, perhaps a lifetime.
How much and in what form? Four to eight fresh celery stalks daily. They are fresher if they are not limp. The 3nB is in the stalks, not the leaves. Celery goes well with cheddar cheese, which is a low purine food that doesn’t add much uric acid — all foods contain purines to some extent. Juices made from four to eight stalks will also give you the 3nB. Celery can be put in stews which are a good gout meal since they increase your daily water intake as providing the stew’s constituents are low or medium purine level foods — note that clam chowder is high purine.
Dietary supplements Purchase celery seed extract standardized to contain 85% 3nB. Tablets or capsules. Twice daily for a total of 150-300mg daily. These are especially useful if you’re bored eating celery every day, and when you travel. The extracts may work better than the stalks.
Caution! Celery should not be taken if you’re pregnant or lactating. And if you have kidney disease. If you’re eating lots of celery or taking celery dietary supplements don’t spend too much time under the sun.